The Rise and Fall of the Only Catholic Swabian Parish in Bukovina

by Norbert Gaschler, priest emeritus

Molodia: Entstehung und Ende der einzigen katholischen Schwabenpfarrei in der Bukowina,
ed. Michael Augustin, transl. Sophie A. Welisch.

Posted on the World-Wide Web
 by the Bukovina Society of the Americas,  November 27, 2004

Diese Seite auf Deutsch

This essay, a translation of a German typescript sent to the translator in 2000, appears to be a prototype of an article edited and serialized in seven consecutive issues of Der Südostdeutsche (Munich) between October 1982 – April 1983. In 2004 Michael Augustin (Leonberg, Germany) edited the German transcript, which Sophie A. Welisch then translated into English. The reader is hereby advised of the existence of the earlier publication in Der Südostdeutsche, which in minor ways differs in style and content from the essay here presented.

Foreword. If indeed the following essay can still be written four decades after the dissolution of the Roman-Catholic parish of Molodia, then it is due to the especially fortunate circumstances of having the following sources available:

  1. A manuscript copy of the chronicle by Reverend Gregor Schie, 100 pages, 1926 [S]

  2. A typescript copy about Molodia by Reverend Adolf Botkowski, 400 pages, 1937 [B]

  3. Several pages from the marriage bans register of the parish of Czernowitz in the diocese of the Bishop of Regensburg [R]

  4. Photocopies of three visitation reports from the archives in Vienna [W]

  5. Most of the schematics of the Archdiocese of Lemberg (Lviv)

  6. Various ancestry charts (Ahnenpässe) from the archive of the Kaindl Society, Stuttgart [KG]

  7. Finally, several publications which coincide with the consecutive numbers in the text for which  reference to the first source indicated by a letter in brackets

Origin of the Molodians. “Seven years after the [Austrian] occupation the first German settlers came via Hungary and the Banat to Rosch and Molodia, which was already a larger community at that time. . . . The settlers for the most part hailed from southwestern Germany, the Rhine-Palatinate, the Rhineland, Hesse with actually no Swabians among them. The strong German Bohemian or German Moravian influence appeared later in Rosch.”[S]

A good decade later one reads: “The origin of all of the first colonists cannot be ascertained. . . . Only four families remained. However, new settlers soon arrived, especially from the Bohemian lands. These included the families of Rieger, Kisslinger, Hornung, Muschig, Neumann, Klein, Hicke, etc. Others came from Switzerland such as the Brodern family; still others from Swabia such as Hartmann, Huber, etc.”[B]

From the few pages of the marriage bans register, which, according to Reverend Hornung are actually the oldest original Bukovina church books that we have in the West, we can conclude that there is a list of names in Molodia not linked to the families which settled in 1782. So, for example:

1809 Maria daughter of Ignaz Exner, resident
1816 Martin Grandl (=Krandl), Molodian colonist, with Susanna Müller, widow
1823 Friedrich Hank, husbandman in Molodia, and Theresia Bitay, Molodia
Johann Rieger, husbandman in Molodia, and Magdalena Dittrich, Molodia
1824 Peter Huber, Molodian servant and Catharina Klepsch – Rosch
Johann Hirschmüller-Rosch and Marianna Hubert in Molodia

Franz Anton Weckend of Molodia with Anna Kunzelmann – Rosch

Ignaz Wolf, peasant’s son of Molodia with Marianna Flegel, Molodia

Josef Klein, husbandman from Molodia with Josepha Muschik, Derelui

This is the first entry in the marriage bans register set aside for all communities in the Catholic parish of Czernowitz and at the same time that of the bridal couple, whose engagement was published in 1938 for the first time.2

For the bride of Friedrich Hank the origin of his father is designated as Swentnow/Galicia, for Johann Rieger that he was born in Boczendorf, Moravia and the bride Dittrich in Königsau in Galicia. Deutsch-Lodenitz in Moravia is given as definite birthplace of Josef Klein.

It can likewise be determined that there were also Protestant Molodians: Susanna Müller, the bride of Martin Grandl, was Protestant, Peter Huber and Catharina Klepsch were “both of the Protestant religion,” whereby it is also noted that the father of the bride came from Bandrów, Galicia. Johann Thian (Dian or Dean) and Maria Anna Beer are the only people whose forebears were among the immigrants.[R]

These facts could be verified by the descendancy charts, which are available [KG] and identify additional places of origin: Hartmann from Großsachenheim, Württemberg, Flegel from Dahle, Moravia, Ottenbreit from Egerland, Thiele from Reigersdorf, Bohemia, Wagner from Königswalde, Bohemia. In addition a Rieger came from Wolfpassing near Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria.

But some of the original settlers must also have spent some time in the Banat, since Karl Beer was born around 1776 in Krawatz or Krawakos, called Grabatz or Garabos in Romanian, while Marianne Hoidt (=Haid) saw the light of day around 1771 in Schalat or Scholat identified in the Banat but which cannot be located there. On the other hand there is a Szabad (Fünfkirchen) in southern Hungary. Should Reverend Schie therefore have precisely specified Hungary?

As diverse as the places of origin may be, the Molodians were united on one point: they were all “Swabians” and so in the course of time Molodia emerged as the only Catholic Swabian parish in Bukovina.

Naturally one cannot here discuss the Molodian Swabian dialect, though it might be pointed out that they said naa instead of nee, haam instead of heem, etc., but Kerbei instead of Kerweih. There were additional idiosyncrasies, but that was also the case in other Swabian villages in Bukovina and the Banat, in the Dobruja and elsewhere. Their variations in vocabulary and pronunciation belong to the “Swabianness” of  eastern and southeastern Europe.

Available pastoral care and the first pastoral services. As the first twelve or thirteen Catholic families settled in Molodia, Bukovina was administratively linked to the Catholic bishopric of Bacău in Moldavia. The bishop from 1782 was Dominik Peter Krawosiecki, who, however, resided in urban Sinatyn on the Galician-Bukovinian border, in order to be as near as possible to his diocese and also to receive a fixed income as priest of the locality.

But in Bukovina there was not a single Roman Catholic parish. Bukovina still remained under military administration and for the Catholic soldiers and civilian personnel a military chaplain was available who answered to Military Bishop Kerens from St. Pölten in Lower Austria. Under him was a Military Superior in Lemberg and a Vice Superior in Czernowitz. The former was Prokop Mund and his successor was the ex-Jesuit father Wenzeslaus Kekert from Leitmeritz in Bohemia. Under him were another ten clergymen in nine stations and the Franciscan father Márttonffy, the so-called border priest for the first Hungarian Catholic colonists in Bukovina. During the period of military occupation Molodia served as the gateway to the garrison in Czernowitz. Here the worship hall of wood was converted into a chapel, which was consecrated on Christmas Eve of 1777 with midnight mass the first church service.

The Catholic colonists of Molodia could use this chapel when they wanted to attend mass, hear a sermon and receive the sacraments. However, attendance proved difficult for them because of the great distance of a good eleven kilometers and the Derelui Brook, which could not be traversed by foot when its waters had risen. So in times of necessity they did what all Catholics and Protestants in Bukovina and elsewhere did when their own priest could not be reached or reached only with great difficulty:  they had the nearest Orthodox priest baptize their newborns and bury their dead. Only in the case of marriage did one have to go to one’s own priest.

On Christmas Eve in the year 1785 Emperor Joseph I decreed that the Catholics of Bukovina be withdrawn from the oversight of the Military Bishop and be served in a neighboring diocese.

In order to gain a better understand of the situation, a census of the Catholics was conducted in early 1786. Aside from 3,301 military personnel, there were at that time 3,609 Catholic civilians in all Bukovina, including seventy-two souls in fourteen families in Molodia.3

Molodia becomes de facto (politically) incorporated into the archdiocese of Lemberg.  On November 11, 1786 not only did the transition from military to civilian administration take place in Bukovina, but it also became a new district of the Kingdom of Galicia and a component of the Archdiocese of Lemberg.

This undoubtedly failed to disturb the new settlers of Molodia either inwardly or outwardly. General Karl  Baron von Enzenberg, the incumbent regional governor, protested against this new directive and was assuredly not incorrect when he wrote: “To the Catholics it will be immaterial if they are under the jurisdiction of the bishops and military bishops (episcopi castrensis) or one or another of the Przemysl or Lemberg bishoprics.”3

In Czernowitz the imperial reorganization was affected only in that through the decree of May 5, 1787 the  incumbent Vice Superior Kekert was appointed as priest and deacon and at the end of March 1788 also took leave of his regiment, which resulted in having to set up new church registers for the new parish. This was done retroactively starting in 1775 when all baptisms, weddings and funerals of civilian persons were removed from the military records and entered in the parish books. This also took place for the Catholics of Molodia starting in the fall of 1782.4

Molodia become de jure (ecclesiastically) incorporated into the Archbishopric of Lemberg. From a decree dated April 4, 1796 Rome also acknowledged the new administrative structure and likewise placed Bukovina de jure under the Archbishop of Lemberg. At this time this was Ferdinand von Kicki, who was succeeded two years later by his nephew Kajetan Ignaz von Kicki.  In 1800 the latter visited the parishes of Czernowitz and Sadagura. If he also performed confirmations is not known. It is certain that he held a pontifical service in the parish church, which was most probably attended by several Catholics from Molodia, if for no other reason than they wished to see a bishop for the first time in their lives.

Even so, we can assume with assurance that many Molodians were present when on June 29, 1814 Reverend Kekert consecrated the new brick parish church in Czernowitz. (Incidentally, this is currently the only church in north Bukovina with a functioning Catholic priest.) After the death of the honorary canon, regional deacon, and parish director Wenzeslaus Kekert on February 15, 1818, the parish post remained vacant until the arrival on May 30, 1822 of the new priest Anton Kunz from Altstadl, Moravia.

In the meantime the second general visitation in Bukovina by Archbishop Alois Baron von Ankwicz took place at which time by the end of June 1820 he confirmed  in Czernowitz “1,312 persons within three visitation days.”[W]

The 3,247 Catholics of Czernowitz “with eighteen incorporated villages” represented a good 40 percent and if in general the rural population is more religious than those in the cities, one can confidently conclude that a good half of all Molodians were confirmed at that time. But it must also be noted from the visitation report: “The rural community asks not only for more clerics but also for a good German preacher.”[W]

The people had been spoiled by the excellent sermons of the first priests, who were themselves transients such as, for example, Rohrer and Reichmann. The new priest Anton Kunz distinguished himself through the activities which his predecessor had neglected: he authored the Gedenkbuch der römisch-katholischen Pfarrkirche von Czernowitz in der Bukowina vom Jahre 1775 bis 1825 (Memoirs of the Roman Catholic Parish of Czernowitz in Bukowina from 1775 to 1825) in Latin and starting in 1825 set up registries solely for Molodia, so that when the village reached parish status in 1901 it had at its disposal its own church books dating from 1825.

The aforementioned memoirs record the number of Lutherans for the city of Czernowitz in 1825 as 197 and “in the villages of Rosch and Molodia as 430” but reveal nothing about the Roman Catholic parish which at that time “in the city and in eighteen incorporated villages” counted 5,019 Catholics, so that we can not determine more precisely how may Catholics lived in Molodia. If he delved further into conditions in Molodia can only be ascertained from the original. Dr. Johann Polek only published “select chapters,” so that nothing is known about the number of Catholics in Molodia. The schematics from which we might glean the most information about the period 1817-1848 only state the number of incorporated localities and their distance to the parish, but not their names, unless a trivium (elementary school) was located there.

The report of the general visitation in 1826 has until now not been available, but it is known that at the end of June Archbishop Ankwicz stayed on and festively consecrated the parish church, most probably also with the participation of many Catholics from Molodia. In 1833 Emperor Francis I appointed Archbishop Ankwicz as Archbishop of Prague. In place of the baron’s son from Galicia, the farmer’s son from Carinthia, who from November 12, 1823 had served as Prince-Bishop of Trent, was appointed to fill the vacant position. He arrived in Lemberg in November 1834 and already declared at his installation “that this is not the place for his working and staying.” He requested a change of position “even a subordinate one.” Therefore, as early as January 9, 1835 he was appointed Prince-Bishop of Görz. Succeeding him was the Bishop of Tarnopol, Franz von Paul Pistek, a Czech, who alternately and in accordance with the situation spelled his name Pisztek  (Polish orthography) or Pischtek, (German orthography). In 1835 Emperor Ferdinand had appointed him Archbishop of Lemberg. One year later he carried out the canonical general visitation in Bukovina. His report about this visit has not been located to date, but his second general visitation in Bukovina in 1842 is at our disposal.

Proposals for separation from the Czernowitz parish. In his report about this visitation Archbishop Pischtek wrote to Emperor Ferdinand on December 22, 1842: “These great distances – and at that in an acatholic region – the parish churches  separated from one another, which in some locations equal a distance of five to six miles, moved my predecessor and me on the occasion of the general visitation of six years ago to petition the local authorities to open new pastoral stations in Storozynetz, Putilla, Wama, Franzthal, Josephfalva, Andreasfalva, Solka, Dorna and other places.”[W]

By “predecessor” he undoubtedly did not mean Archbishop Luschin, who had only stayed in Lemberg for about ten months, so that one must conclude that after his visitation in 1826 Archbishop Ankwicz circulated the proposal to include Franzthal in a plan for pastoral stations. If both archbishops did not propose the greater community of Molodia but rather the smaller village of Franzthal, there can be only one reason, namely that Franzthal lay more centrally located between the widely separated parishes of Czernowitz and Sereth.

“The local authorities” took their time. Archbishop Pischtek died on February 1, 1846 at age sixty and the new Archbishop Lukas Baraniecki was appointed only after the revolutionary year 1848 and consecrated on January 13, 1850. Additionally a significant change in the history of Bukovina was unfolding at this time: on March 4, 1849 Bukovina became an autonomous crown land with its own regional administration and regional government. Who at that time thought about the building of new pastoral stations?

Molodia Curatie (prayer station not yet staffed by a priest).  In 1857 after fifteen years the Archbishop of Lemberg again came for a general visitation.  On March 30, 1895 Lukas Baraniecki reported to Emperor Francis Joseph I on 22 folio pages. On p. 5 he not only proposed “removing the German colony of Rosch with 1,138 souls [from the Czernowitz] parish,” but also setting up a Curatie in Molodia:

 “Not least would be the establishment of a Curatie in Molodia, a German colony, which lies two miles from Czernowitz and because of a river, access to the mother church is often hindered (accounting for the indifference of these people), and the removal the villages of Derelui, Franzthal, Czabor, Korawia, Kuczurmare, Kuttulbanski, Ostrica, Woloka from the Czernowitz parish; then Mihuczeni, Kiczera, Preworokie, Terescheni and Tristiana from the Sereth parish; finally Lukawitza, Marmoritza and Zuren from the Bojan pastoral station and incorporating it with Molodia whose population numbers 761. Since the founding of this colony there has been a place for the church and a trivium.”[W]

Archbishop von Baraniecki died three months later on June 30, 1858 at the general visitation in Cieszanow in the deaconate of Lubaczów and with him also the concept of a parish for Molodia.

The German priest of Czernowitz, Anton Kunz from Koppenstein, died at age seventy-eight on July 31, 1864 and one year later a Pole was appointed to replace him: Dr. Ignatius Kornicki, who no doubt knew German well, since he had completed his theological studies in Vienna. For his parishioners in Molodia he initially showed no special concern and absolutely none for the establishment of an independent Curatie.

“The pastorate appeared very neglected because until 1885 (i.e., over a century) there had been no house of God.” [S]

Church festival without church. Things remained as they had been: the Molodians remained further affiliated with the Czernowitz parish, and there also celebrated the feast day of the ”elevation of the cross” on September 14; however, two weeks later they celebrated “Kerbei,” (Kirchweih, local celebrations on the anniversary of the consecration of the church), their own church festival, as best they could without a church of their own.

“The church festival had always been celebrated from time immemorial on the feast day of St. Michael, possibly because by this day the main harvest had been reaped.”[B]

The Archangel Michael was the patron saint of the German people, and his feast day on September 29 had a been a holiday in all Germany since the Synod of Mainz in 813. Even after the Reformation he was still honored for a time in Lutheran regions as “national saint of the Germans” while in other Germanic lands his day began as a harvest festival. One can read this in the various reference works.  In Molodia the “Kerbei” was celebrated for two days according to Swabian custom while on the preceding day the 14 – 16 meter-long “Kerbei” tree was erected in front of the tavern and colorfully decorated. Doubtless some of the many young “Kerbei”  boys began going from house to house to sell raffle tickets for the large “Kerbei” shawl, which they carried on a pole in front of them like a precious flag.

Obviously a celebratory church service took place in the parish church in Czernowitz on the first “Kerbei” day, followed at home by an appropriate “Kerbei” meal. But what was later consumed in beer and whiskey in the tavern with music and dance gradually surpassed the capacity for joviality and modesty. The “Kerbei” in Molodia assumed an ever more distinctive character. Today we can no longer research the reasons why the Catholic Swabians of Molodia failed to construct a church or indeed even an unassuming chapel within a period of 100 years but that they for decades celebrated their “Kerbei” – their church festival – without their own church must have been unique among all so-called Swabians.

Construction of the local church. In the meantime the first 100 years had passed since the settlement. The population in Molodia and both its daughter villages of Derelui and Franzthal had risen to close to 1,000 Catholics. A young German chaplain, the former Jesuit priest Johannes Peters, came to Czernowitz. Probably he had been invited to celebrate the feast day of St. Michael in 1881, i.e., a half-year after his initiation into pastoral duties. But perhaps he sooner or later: “recognized with consternation that in Molodia the spirit of alcohol is driving out the spirit of Christ in the people. A remedy was then only possible if the people were to have their own church and an intensive pastoral work were to be carried out among the faithful, in order to have them set aside their crude practices.”[B]

Since the people for a long time had wanted a church of their own, his proposal was gladly and immediately accepted. Four property owners took it upon themselves to undertake the construction of the church: Georg Kirsch, Georg Klein, Adam Lang and Franz Zimmer. Voluntary contributions in the community as well as throughout all Bukovina were solicited. The state itself endorsed the task by a considerable sum of money. The bricks were soon shaped and baked. All seemed to be going well when suddenly a quarrel broke out in the community and threatened to delay the undertaking. From the very beginning two factions among the German colonists existed in the community: the lowlanders, who were primarily farmers, and the highlanders, most of whom made their living as teamsters. Contrasts of wealth and status existed among all Swabians.

In Molodia the lowlanders wanted the church in their proximity while the highlanders, on the other hand, who had their houses more or less among the Romanians on the periphery of the meadows, wanted it in the center of the community close to where the police station was later built.

The town office considered the arguments of the highlanders and set aside an appropriate land parcel. No  sooner had the trenches for the columns of the enclosure and for the installation of a cross been excavated, than at a gathering to erect the planks and the cross one week later, Romanian inhabitants appeared for the purpose of obstructing  the building of a Catholic or a “German” church. As the story goes, the lowlanders had instigated them through whiskey. As a result, the highlanders had to agree to the construction of the church in the lowlands.

Masons from Rosch undertook the construction of the church. The entire Catholic community voluntarily performed the drudgework such as  the transport of materials.

In late summer of 1885 the church was completed and consecrated by the urban pastor and invested prelate Dr. Kornicki on September 8, 1885.[B]

The new church was called Our Beloved Lady of the Rosary. Why it was not dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel can today no longer be explained.  Did the Czernowitz hierarchy expect thereby to suppress the characteristic “Kerbei”? Then another name would have to have been chosen, since it is known that the feast day of the rosary is October 7, coinciding with the naval battle of Lepanto in which the Christians won a brilliant victory over the Turks. The Molodians could now continue to celebrate their “Kerbei” even if not as boisterously as before.

Pastoral care through the Jesuit fathers. The expectation of a local cleric remained unfulfilled, but Father Kornicki had assigned pastoral care in Molodia to the Jesuit fathers, who in the same year of 1885 opened a mission house in Czernowitz. Accordingly, the German fathers of the Society of Jesus took over the regular church services, preached in the new church, dispensed the sacraments, gave religious instruction, etc. Father Wagner showed especial concern for the furtherance of German church hymns. German folk music in church did not rank especially high in Bukovina, because it lay too far from the German linguistic area. Through the Jesuit fathers, most of whom came from Silesia, many beloved church songs were introduced to Bukovina from Germany and not from Austria. (The builder of the residence and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Father Frank Eberhardt, was in fact a dyed-in-the-wool Berliner and the city of Czernowitz honored him by naming the street where the church and residence stood after him.) Pastoral care through the Jesuits was also carried out under Reverend Tobiaszek. But when his successor, the military chaplain Josef Schmid of Suczawa, took over the Czernowitz parish in 1893, he withdrew the contract and he and his chaplains took over pastoral care in Molodia. Did he hope by this act again to bind the Molodians even closer to the Czernowitz parish?

The establishment of the Catholic parish of Molodia.  On January 23, 1893, i.e., still in the lifetime of his predecessor, they submitted a proposal to the regional administration for the establishment of a parish. They had to wait eight years before their wish, their urgings and demands (they threatened to rent the completed rectory to a Jew and indeed would have given it over to a finance official as an apartment!) were fulfilled by the new Archbishop of Lemberg, Dr. Joseph Bilczewski. Reverend Botkowski recorded in his manuscript the essential excerpts from the decree No. 1206 of April 10, 1901. Here it states, among other things:

“Several years ago the faithful residents of Molodia built the brick church with the name of Holy Rosary of the Holy Virgin Mary from their own resources. In this church the priest and the other clerics from Czernowitz say mass, preach the word of God, and dispense the blessed sacraments.

In recent times the faithful have built a parish house and fulfilled what they promised the regional government in Czernowitz on January 1, 1893, namely, that they would not only build and maintain the church but also the rectory and other related structures and replace them, if necessary.

Likewise these same faithful in the same declaration obliged themselves to acquire church accoutrements from their own resources and also provide the wherewithal for fire insurance for the church as well as for the rectory. Likewise, they donated lot No. 944/2 for the maintenance of the priest (the parish garden, which had been bought from the community in 1897 for a price of 46 florins) and No. 192 (the cemetery which was purchased by Leo Wilhard in 1899 for a price of 19 guldens). . . .In addition the faithful committed themselves annually to provide the priest the transport of 16 cubic meters of beech wood from the forests of Franzthal or another neighboring forest by the end of October at their own expense. . . .

Based on the petition of the faithful from the communities of  Molodia, Derelui, Franzthal, Kotulbainski, Zuren, Czahor, Korawia, Marmoritza and Lukawitza and in agreement with the parish of Czernowitz and Bojan . . . we agree to the establishment of the parish of Molodia. . . and elevate the aforesaid church in Molodia to a parish church and give the Latin rite to the community of  Molodia as well as also to the above named communities with their inhabitants, and bestow upon it all rights and privileges legally due the parish churches.”[B]

In this manner the proposal, which the Archbishop Lukas Baraniecki had made a good four years earlier was implemented, except for the communities of Kuczurmare, Ostrica and Woloka, which remained with Czernowitz and all five communities from the parish of Sereth of which none were added to the parish of Molodia. It is difficult to determine how many Catholics lived in the newly-established parish in April 1901 since the schematics are not available. In 1897 Molodia with Derelui and Franzthal had reached the highest number of 1,608 Catholic faithful but starting in 1898 an emigration to Canada began as a result of which the 1904 number of inhabitants shrank to 1,320. Raimund Friedrich Kaindl noted that at the beginning of the 20th century: “Molodia has evolved into a respectable settlement of about 1,500 Catholic Germans; unfortunately in the last years the lack of land has caused a number of them to emigrate to Canada where they founded the colony of Mariahilf.”5

The establishment of the parish of Molodia took place close to quarter year after the installation of Archbishop Bilczewski, the conditions for which had most assuredly been drawn up much earlier. If the memorandum from the Verein der Christlichen Deutschen in der Bukowina (Association of Christian Germans in Bukovina), had been given in June 1898 to Bishop Josef Weber, a compatriot from the German-Bohemian village of Fürstenthal on the occasion of his general visitation in Bukovina and then handed over by him in Czernowitz, can only be speculated but not proven, since the visitation report is not available. In this memorandum a plea was made not only for more German priests but also for the establishment of more German parishes, “above all in Molodia with more than 14,000 German Catholics.”

The first priest and his activity in Molodia. “In 1901, on September 5 the first newly-appointed Reverend Georg Schie came to the community. Despite the rain, the people could not be deterred from triumphantly receiving their long-awaited pastor. Under the direction and quiet work of this priest much blessing befell the community. In establishing a credit union (Raiffeisenkasse) he urged many to become thrifty and thereby saved many a family from economic ruin through alcoholism. Together with school principal Leopold Zawichowski he supported the German cultural society and accustomed many to working for the society rather than going to the saloon. It is he who should be thanked if morality in this community, as already mentioned, improved so much, so that one can justifiably say that no community can compare with it in this regard,” a claim which could still be made ten years after his departure.[B]

“In a good quarter year he shaped the parish of Molodia religiously and morally in that he founded the Fraternity of the Blessed Heart of Jesus and fifteen groups of the so-called living rosary: eight for women, three for men, three - four for girls and one for boys.”[S]

Naturally this did not occur overnight, nor did the better equipping of the church. “There was an absence of practically everything relating to liturgical vestments and other accoutrements and these were in time acquired. Much was solicited from the associations dealing with liturgical vestments in Linz and Vienna. The generosity of the community in the first years was truly magnanimous and noteworthy. The main altar was rebuilt. The Marian statue, the statues of St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as the altar were delivered by the firm of Stufleser in St. Gröden, Tyrol (today the workshop for church art Ferdinand Stufleser, Ortisei, Italy). The patrons were Anton and Ferdinand Kisslinger. The wooden floor, rotted and shaky, was replaced by a cement floor. A large number of church flags were bought in time.”[S]

According to the account of a Bukovina priest who still knew him, Reverend Gregor Schie was born in 1866,ordained in 1891 and came from Galicia. But he must have been raised in Czernowitz, since he “in July 1891 held his first mass in the Jesuit chapel in Czernowitz.”7 Therefore, his parents must have lived near the mission house, since it was customary for a priest to say his first mass  (Primiz) or one of his first masses in his hometown. After his year as an adjunct, he taught catechism classes in elementary schools in Suczawa and Czernowitz until his transfer to his first and last parish in Bukovina.  In October 1926 he left Molodia and “in haste” gave his reasons in the Chronicle of the Catholic Parish of Molodia:  “The author is leaving his parish primarily because of his Austrian patriotism, but it must herewith be openly acknowledged, also because of overt and clandestine chicanery on the side of the Polish clerical authorities, and he at least wishes to spend his senior years in peace and quiet. He will remember his former parishioners in sacrificio missae (sacrifice of the mass) and in prayers and wishes them all the best, above all even the best of the best: Salutem aeternam (eternal well-being).”

The school. According to the 1824 report of the teacher Danalsky to the governing authorities in Lemberg, a German school had already been in operation in Molodia for some years.8 In the schematics of Lemberg a trivium in Molodia was mentioned for the first time, which seems curious since the one in Rosch had regularly been mentioned  since 1817. “Until 1873 there had been a Catholic 1-room parochial school/condordat.”[S] .From 1892 they were no longer called  trivia but rather community schools.

“Until 1899 Romanians and Germans attended school together. Instruction had been introduced the previous year in [illegible] and one year earlier in Franzthal. The former was bi-lingual, while the central school of Molodia was trilingual from the start.”8 This is all a bit confusing, especially since for 1905 in Molodia a six-room school, in Derelui and Franzthal each a room school are  listed for the previous year. In the last twelve months preceding the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Derelui and Franzthal are each recorded as having two-room schools while the classes in Molodia remained unchanged.

For 1925 we read: Molodia a school with five classes, Derelui, Franzthal and state schools in other incorporated parishes..

Within a decade after 1918 most of the schools in Bukovina had been Romanized. The 295 German children in Molodia had four hours of instruction in German per week, in Franzthal sixty-seven children had as good as no German instruction and Derelui was not even mentioned.9

The back and forth in Romanian school politics changed with every administration.  According to a purely church statistic there were in the parish of Molodia  still only  “German state school, three Catholic German teachers” and in Czahor “120 Catholic Germans. No German instruction.”10

Associations and clubs. Aside from the religious fraternities and the previously mentioned German Cultural Society,  Molodia also had a voluntary fire department and from 1926  the ethnic German youth club “Buchenhort.” In 1933 there existed one local chapter each for the Catholic German national club, the young men’s club and young women’s club.  If the latter were a revival of the already existing Catholic youth associations or new organizations is difficult to determine. At around this time representatives of various persuasions on the one hand and the priests on the other vied openly for the youth. Significant for this period is the celebration of the harvest festival in Molodia: after the common religious service in the church, the youth clubs celebrated separately.

Economic situation. The Germans who immigrated to Bukovina from the Banat in 1782 appear not to have enjoyed favorable economic conditions. “All were poor; they only had a cart and bad horses. . . . One must admit that General Enzenberg assiduously took these people under his wing.”5

This took place through subsidies, which were not substantial but sufficed. Yet we must wonder when we read: “At the end of June 1783, since the settlers—altogether twenty-two families—could live on their own produce, the subsidies ceased.”5

As is well known, the harvest in north Bukovina begins in early to mid-July. What they had harvested by the end of June was grass and hay for the animals! Milk, butter and cheese do not suffice for a balanced diet. It takes time to reach that point. And in the meantime there was always persistent struggle for daily bread, indeed even famine in the years 1865-1866 followed by cholera.8

Here it must be noted that the first settlers received their land parcels in the so-called lowlands, which until 1940 was simple called “the German field.” The later settlers lived in the upper section of the locality, in the so-called highlands. The latter sought their livelihood as teamsters. When the state highway between Czernowitz to Sereth was constructed, they undertook the transport of gravel and until the completion of the railroad they handled the transportation of goods to Moldavia via the border town of Zuren. As teamster work became scarcer, they looked for their livelihood as factory and saw mill workers in Czernowitz.[B]

The situation at the turn of the century is thus described: “Economic conditions were dire. Indebtedness though the usurious Schlosser bank particularly oppressive. The extravagance (elaborate four - five day weddings, alcoholism among the men, card games by the workers at the Götzeschen saw mill in Czernowitz) were ruining the people. For this reason the author from the beginning of his tenure in office immediately felt obliged to set up a credit union (Raiffeisenkassa-Verein) and to run it himself as administrator, paymaster, etc., and for some three years from 1902-1905 maintained it in the parish office.”[S]

“Bitter were the four war years because we were in the front line of attack. From August 1,  - November 30, 1917 we were in the fire zone. The specific episodes of a three-time Russian invasion, as well as the multiple withdrawals, etc., are still in recent memory and can be precisely narrated by anyone.”[S]

Molodia alone counted 20 men killed in action.8

Emigration. “The great emigration to Canada began in 1898 and lasted uninterruptedly until the war. It can be stated with assurance that at least 50 percent of the total population immigrated to Canada, particularly to the region of Regina/Saskatchewan. In 1908 P.J. Kasper OMI, the pastor of Maria-Hilf, Saskatchewan, a settlement founded by Germans from Molodia, came to Molodia for a visit at the request of his priest.”[S]

Mariahilf, the name of the settlement, shows that it was faithful Catholics who had left Molodia and not the worst of people. According to reports by visitors (1974) these emigrants not only remained true to their faith but also to their “Swabianness” until recent times. And it is to the honor of all emigrated Molodians that Der deutsche Katholic im Ausland (The German Catholic Abroad), Bonn, No. 6/1974 reported: “Regina, Canada, Pope Paul VI appointed Dr. Adam Exner, OMI, from the German family from Regina, as Bishop of Kamloops in British Columbia. . . His parents emigrated from the former Austrian crown land of Bukovina. . . .His 80-year-old mother was able to attend his consecration.”

Archbishop Exner’s father was no longer alive. His memorial card reads: Josef A. Exner, born 1888 in Melodie [sic], Austria, died on March 27, 1968 in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. “

And it adds that he is “the fourth Canadian bishop to some from a German-speaking family,” which proves that German was spoken in the Exner home.

The last local cleric and special developments until 1940.  After the departure of Reverend Schie, the Catholics of  Molodia were served from Bojan by Reverend Hans Bojescul, born in Radautz, who was a German despite his Romanian name. After he resigned from his priestly and ecclesiastical duties, another German Radautzer, August Zolandkowski, priest of Molodia, took over the Sereth parish in around 1935. He likewise resigned from his priestly duties. Both cases evoked great consternation and were a difficult test of faith for the Molodians, which they nonetheless sustained without detriment.

From January 1, 1930 the parishes were to maintain only the vital statistics pertaining to the Catholics, since in Bukovina civil registers were introduced, and from August 15, 1930 Bukowina was incorporated into the diocese of Jassy. The sole general vicariate for Bukovina, that which Archbishop Bilczewski of Lemberg established in 1920, also remained under the new Bishop Michael Robu of Jassy.

In August 1932 the anniversary of the 150th year of the first Swabian settlements in Rosch and Molodia was celebrated with dignity. On September 1, 1933 the parish encompassed 1,718 souls and in 1935 the thirty-one-year-old Bukovina priest Adolf Botkowski from Joseffalva came as priest to Molodia, who not only built the German Catholic youth home there but also researched and recorded old wedding customs.2

In July 1937 the new priest ordained for the Archdiocese of Bucharest celebrated his first mass amidst the great and joyous participation of his fellow countrymen from Molodia.

The same year Hubert Wiegard from Germany, who had come to Bukovina in 1933, became pastor in Molodia. The last Primiz in Molodia took place on the feast day of Peter and Paul in 1939, and namely the one for the diocese of Jassy and thereby for the newly ordained Bukovina priest Georg Exner. At the end of the 1920s both priests had been students at the German Catholic private Gymnasium in Radautz, at that time under the direction of their fellow townsman, Professor Georg Brodner, who earned special distinction for his efforts on behalf of German ethnic affairs in Bukovina.

The dissolution of the parish of Molodia.  In the fall [of 1940] 1,028 people from Molodia, 375 from Derelui and 105 from Franzthal resettled in Germany. The parish books were turned over to the resettlement commission. Unfortunately they have been lost. All other church equipage remained behind. Therewith the parish ceased to exist. In that many purely German parishes in south Bukowina were also dissolved through the resettlement, the government of Bucharest, after discussions with the Bishop of Jassy and the Vicar-General of Czernowitz, thought it necessary to establish new regulations for the parishes of all Bukovina and, as published in the Staatsanzeiger on October 2, 1943, Molodia (“Cosmin” in Romanian) again belonged to the Roman Catholic parish of Czernowitz 11  How many Catholics this then  encompassed is unknown.

At about this time the great majority of the former parishioners of Molodia were resettled, most in eastern Upper Silesia. As the battle lines drew closer in 1945, the great flight to the west also began for them. Their last pastor, who had not been able to remain with his parishioners but rather had a position in the Isar Mountains, lost his life during the melee in the spring of 1945. More is not known about this. The five families who returned to their old homeland after the war could not remain in Molodia but were sent to Russia as slave laborers. There the majority of them succumbed to a wretched death. Only a few of their children returned to the German Federal Republic.

Molodia today. North Bukovina and with it Molodia belong to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine, of which Kiev is the capital. Czernowitz is merely a district in the great Soviet Union and has long since lost its former significance. Only very limited and sometimes conflicting reports have reached the West. Molodians, who in recent times have visited the old homeland, report that of the former church of the once Catholic Swabian parish of Molodia, only the foundation remains. These are some of the last traces of the first “Swabian settlement” in Bukovina between 1782-1940, but even these will soon be gone with the wind.

Acknowledgements. My sincere thanks to Reverend Botkowski for turning over all manuscripts, to Erich Beck and Erich Prokopowitsch for the visitation reports from Vienna, to Professor Dr.  Herbert Mayer for access to relinquished ancestry charts, to Reverend Hornung for invaluable suggestions from him and his cousin Miss Rieger (Thalheim), and to Robert Wolf for the interview with Julianne Kirsch and Gertrude Kussy in Hallstadt near Bamberg.


1.       Norbert Gaschler. Die Kirchenbücher der Bukowina.  Kaindl Archiv: Mitteilungen der       

            Raimund Friedrich Kaindl Gesellschaft. 2 (1979): pp. 25-56.


2.       Adolf Botkowski. Molodier deutsche Hochzeitsbräuche. Katholischer Haus- u.              

            Volkskalender (Czernowitz, 1938).


3.       Johann Polek, Zur Frage der Errichtung einer römisch-katholischenn Pfarre zu  

              Czernowitz  (Czernowitz, 1909).


4.       ____________.  Ausgewählte Capitel aus dem Gedenkbuch der römisch-katholischen                          

             Pfarre zu Czernowitz (Czernowitz, 1890).


5.       Raimund Friedrich Kaindl. Das Ansiedlungswesen in der Bukowina (Innsbruck, 1902).


6.       Denkschrift des Vereins der christl. Deutschen in der Bukowina (Czernowitz, 1898).


7.        Historia domus missionis  S.J. czernoviciensis. Archiv SJ (Cracow).


8.       Leopold Zawichowski. “Die ersten 12 Familien in Molodia. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte  

            der ersten deutschen Bauernsiedlung in der Bukowina,” Der Südostdeutsche                

            (Munich), Dec. 15, 1962.


9.       Das deutsche Schulwesen in der Bukowina von einem Schulmann (Czernowitz, 1928)


10.    Adolf Botkowski. Statistik der römisch-katholischen Pfarreien der Bukowina. MS (1932.


11.    Monitorul oficinal. (Bucharest), No. 231. October 2, 1943.


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