Father Abe Arganiosa may have been in Farmington for only a year-and-a-half, but the impact he left on the parishioners of St. Joseph Catholic Church — and the community as a whole — are for a lifetime.
Late last month parishioners learned Arganiosa would need to return to his homeland of the Philippines.
“Since October of 2016, Fr. Abe has had the best (counsel) and immigration lawyers that our Archdiocese could possibly provide,” Pastor Rickey Valleroy wrote to the parishioners in the Jan. 28 newsletter. “Sadly, after all these months, all of their appeals for him to stay in this country have been exhausted unsuccessfully.”
He is scheduled to head back to the Philippines on Feb. 9.
Arganiosa came to the St. Louis Archdiocese five years ago and joined St. Joseph Catholic Church as an associate pastor in July of 2016.
“The people here mean a lot to me. I am a missionary, and to be with people is an expression of my service to God,” Arganiosa said. “Farmington is a very prayerful community. We are all united as a community. Farmington is one big family. And they expressed their love to me by accepting me.”
Parishioners with St. Joseph shared the impact Arganiosa makes on their lives.
“For me, Father Abe’s joy draws you in,” said parishioner Judy Davis. “He is truly joy-filled in everything he does. He reminds me a lot of a missionary priest that I had as a child. His ease with people is most evident with the kids.”
She shared the story of how he relates with the younger members of the church.
“He loves pop culture and can relate to students via Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings,” she said. “Last year my son was an 8th grader at SJ and Father was their religion teacher and Spanish teacher. He really made an impact on my son and our family.”
Dawn Fuemmler echoed Davis’ sentiment, noting Arganiosa often attends events in support of his congregation.
“He is everything a priest should be,” she said. “He is humble and kind. He always has a smile on his face. He attends all the school functions and really gets to know the kids … (one event) that sticks out to me is when he came to see the Nutcracker to support all the youth from our church. Afterwards he came up on stage and was as mesmerized by the grandeur of it as much as any four-year old dreaming to one day be a part of the production. He made every performer feel so special and wanted to take pictures with everyone.”
Gracie Trokey is a Farmington High School student who shared her thoughts on the impact made by Arganiosa.
“I have never met a man filled with more humility and grace in my life,” she said. “The first Mass I celebrated with him, I could already feel the purity and service in his heart. In his short time with us, Father Abe has become a personal role model for me, influencing me toward a greater love for God and a life of humility. Although Father Abe will no longer be with us, I believe that God will take care of His good and faithful servant. Father Abe is such a positive and joyful man, and although I envy his future parishioners, I hope they treat him with the same gratitude of those at St. Joseph’s, who will miss him dearly.”
Jami Aubuchon said her whole family was blessed by Arganiosa’s time in Farmington as well.
“My husband Abe and I along with our five children belong to St. Joseph's Parish in Farmington,” she said. “One specific story is that he has encouraged my son as a server in Mass and my son joyfully served daily 7 a.m. Mass for a month while our regular server was unable. He didn't want to stop serving when his time had ended. He continues to attend daily Mass and I thank Father Abe for being such a holy man and wonderful example of faith and priesthood.”
Samantha Wade said she was “heartbroken” when opening the email learning of Arganiosa leaving ... for both herself and her children.
“His presence in the school has brought so many smiles to their faces,” she said, “... whether it be during school mass when he includes Star Wars into his Homily, and jokingly calls himself 'Abe-Wan Kenobi,' or while he's cheering for our sports teams from the stands yelling, ‘go,' 'yay,' and 'good job’ or when he attends our monthly Our Father's Table and joins the children in serving food and cleaning tables.
“No matter what he is doing he does it with a smile on his face and love in his heart. Everyone who comes in contact with him feels his joy's exude. His departure will leave a big hole in our community and all we can do now is pray for a miracle.”
Through this time, Davis said, Arganiosa uses his words to comfort the parish.
“Since finding out that he will have to leave, I’ve heard him reassure many people that it is OK,” she said. “That he is sad, but will follow what the archdiocese and his pastor directs him to do. And he will always pray for us and asks us to do the same. He reminds us to believe in the goodness of God. That to me says a lot of one’s character.”
Both Davis and Wade noted his involvement with the monthly Spanish mass — which will be the final mass he presides over at 1 p.m. on Sunday, followed by a pot luck meal. He will also serve during the 7:30 and 9 a.m. masses.
“He has been a great addition to our Filipino community as well,” Wade said. “I think he has made them feel more welcome and at home. I come from an Asian background and I love when he incorporates his native customs into our masses. What a great learning experience and honor that he would share that with us.”
For Davis, this service gives definition to the universality of the church.
“Father Abe has been an incredible blessing to our family,” said Sonja Hampton. “He has had a huge impact on our youth, getting them excited and involved in the faith. He has been active in bringing the church to the Spanish speaking community. My grandchildren love him. He encourages them and is one of our youth’s greatest cheerleaders. We are all praying for the miracle it will take to keep him in Farmington.”
Arganiosa expressed his appreciation to everyone he’s come to know during this time.
“I am very grateful and thankful for the love and affection shown to me and will carry that with me wherever I go,” Arganiosa said. “I hope sometime to be able to come back and serve more.”
A Desloge couple wanting to help out five food pantries in the northern part of St. Francois County are the impetus behind the Feed My Sheep Bake Sale being held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24 at the Desloge First Baptist Church Family Ministry Center.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Bismarck Church of God Food Pantry, Bonne Terre/St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, Elvins Food Pantry, House of Praise Food Pantry and the Immaculate Conception/St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.
The event will offer an opportunity for people to shop for fresh bread, cookies, cakes, pies, candy, gift baskets, dry mixes, handmade items and even used books.
Retirees Jack Poston said he and his wife, Elizabeth, were inspired to hold the fundraiser by the Help the Hungry Bake Sale held in Farmington, as well as the Feed the Families Bake Sale that takes place in Madison County.
It's not like there isn't a serious need for food pantries in St. Francois County.
"One in five people in our community is food insecure," Poston said. "Our local food pantries are seeing more elderly and multi-generational families seeking help. In fact, 10 percent of seniors 65 or older are living in poverty and 9 percent are food insecure. Also, children growing up in food insecure families are vulnerable to poor health and stunted development from the earliest stages of life."
Asked why the couple decided to step in and try to do something about the problem, Poston said, "My wife and I just felt there was a need and we wanted to do this. I'm not going to say we were lead by God, but it was weighing heavy on our heart that somebody needed to do something."
After speaking with those in charge of the food pantry fundraisers in Farmington and Madison County, the Postons paid a visit to the East Missouri Action Agency (EMAA) who gave them the names of food pantries in the northern part of the county.
"I know there are a lot of churches that have food pantries in the area, but we wanted to focus on the ones that work through EMAA," Poston said. All the proceeds will be divided proportionately according to the number of people using the food pantry, according to EMAA's records.
Poston stressed that the bake sale isn't intended in any way to be the "Jack and Elizabeth Poston show."
"We're not doing this alone," he said. "We're getting support from a lot of people and churches to put this on," he said. "This is in no way about us."
Poston also wanted it known that, even though the bake sale is being held at Desloge First Baptist Church, the church isn't sponsoring the event.
"All kinds of churches are participating," he said. "We've got Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic and some non-denominational churches, too."
According to Poston, there will be something of interest for everyone at the bake sale.
"We're going to have a silent auction featuring donated services, merchandise and themed baskets," he said. "There's also going to be biscuits and gravy sold and a pastor-baked cake auction.
"People are encouraged to bring their baked goods to sell. You can bake whatever you like, but pies, cakes and bread bring in the most money. The more that is baked, the more people can be helped through the food pantries."
Despite the name of the event, baking isn't the only way people can participate in the bake sale.
"We have other ways you can be involved in the project, such as sponsorships and providing themed gift baskets," Poston said. "Pick a theme for your basket, arrange the items in a pleasing way and wrap it with a clear material like cellophane. All items must be new.
"Shepherd's House features all types of items like dry mixes, spiced tea and cocoa, cookie mixes in a jar, dip mixes, Chex mix and handmade items such as aprons, pot holders, napkins and homemade pet treats."
Other items mentioned by Poston for the silent auction includes holiday wreaths and centerpieces, hobby items and the donation of services, merchandise and cash.
"We could also use paperback or hardback books," he said. We will have a book table for books donated by our avid readers. We also need volunteers for the day of the event, as well as for setting up and cleaning up after the event."
After talking about the details of the fundraiser, there was something else Poston had on his mind.
"We can't thank enough the people with Help the Hungry and Feed the Families. They gave us so many tips and suggestions on how to put the bake sale on. They told us to start small this year and then grow from there. Because of them we didn't have to reinvent the wheel."
For more information about Feed My Sheep, call Elizabeth Poston at 573-431-0391 or email the couple at email@example.com.
Although St. Francois County's Aug. 7 primary election may still seem far away, candidates begin filing for a spot on the ballot at the end of this month.
"The August election is for the nomination of candidates to run in the November general election," said County Clerk Mark Hedrick. "It doesn't sound like you'd be filing this early, but you do. The first day for filing will be Feb. 27 in my office for any of the county offices."
Hedrick noted that the offices up for election on the county level are Associate Circuit Judge Division 3 and 4; presiding commissioner; circuit clerk; prosecuting attorney; county clerk; county collector; county recorder of deeds; and county auditor. Candidates for circuit judges Division 1 and Division 2 will file at the Secretary of State's Office in Jefferson City.
"On the 27th (filing) will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on the first day only, it will be the lottery. You'll just come in, draw a number and wherever we get the lowest number, that's where you'll be on the ballot. That's how we determine first on the ballot.
"It has been a lottery for a number of years. That saves having a line for three or four days out here and trying to control that and putting a sub in to go to the bathroom and all that stuff. It's a pain in the rear end, but we don't do it anymore."
According to Hedrick, the last day for candidate filing for the Aug. 7 election will be at 5 p.m. March 27.
"Candidates must have a receipt from the party central committee for the $50 filing fee which goes to the central committee of the political party they are filing under or be prepared to pay the fee on the day they file if the committees want us to take the filing fee on that day," he said. "Candidates for county collector must have an affidavit from a bonding company showing that they can obtain a bond in an amount of $500,000 at the time of filing. That is required by state law."
Charges have been formally filed against two Irondale teens after they allegedly threw rocks through a historic church’s windows.
Matthew Osborne, 17, and Tyler Herring, 17, both of Irondale, are being charged with a class E felony of property damage.
According to the probable cause statement, on Jan. 27 a deputy was called to the United Methodist Church located at 112 S. Maple St. in Irondale for six broken windows.
The report said on Jan. 26 the teens knowingly and purposely caused damage to the church by throwing rocks and asphalt chunks through the glass windows of the historic building.
Both teens were arrested after an investigation and both gave voluntary statements admitting that they damaged the property. The approximate value of the damage is $1,200.
In an earlier story church member John O’Neal said the damaged windows are a part of the building’s long history in the community.
“The church is past 150 years old with all original windows except for one,” O’Neal said. “They broke out four of them on the south side of the building and one on the north side. It’ll be an expensive endeavor.”
It was reported that three suspects were identified in the investigation and later located. Two of the suspects were arrested and provided statements, while the third was cleared and not arrested.
An early morning pursuit in Washington County on Friday ended with two men being arrested.
Washington County Sheriff Zach Jacobsen said one of his deputies tried to stop a vehicle because one of the occupants was wanted on several outstanding warrants.
“He was also wanted in connection with, maybe, a stolen vehicle or two,” said Jacobsen. “The deputy attempted to stop the car and the vehicle failed to yield. The car chase started on Highway 8 just west of town and they traveled eastbound and came near the city limits.”
Jacobsen said they turned onto Highway 185 going northbound to Gun Club Road.
“They came to a stop on a private drive in the Gun Club area where two of the three people in the vehicle bailed out on foot and fled,” said Jacobsen. “I had responded to the area and took one into custody and the deputy that was in the chase took the other one into custody.”
Jacobsen said both men, Jeremy Leuchtmann, 38, of Potosi, and Matthew Brian King, 43, of rural Washington County, had outstanding felony warrants for their arrest and both are being held in the county jail at this point.
“No one was injured and no vehicles were damaged, with the exception of the suspect’s vehicle, which received some minor cosmetic damage,” Jacobsen said. “That was from the rough terrain they tried to drive the car through.”
He added the third person was the owner of the vehicle, but was not driving. She was not arrested or detained. She stayed with the vehicle and was cooperating through the investigation.
Jacobsen said he believes they will be presenting the case to the prosecutor’s office for charges of fleeing, failure to yield and some other traffic offenses.