It takes a family


All of the family was together to celebrate Charles and Sophia Rosenberger’s 25th anniversary. The children gave the parents a silver tray with a silver creamer and sugar that were filled with silver dollar coins.

Millie, third girl in from right, was the middle of the six Rosenberger daughters.

Millie considers St. Patrick’s Cemetery the family cemetery. Here she is pictured next to her parents headstone.

Ruhr doesn’t have many photos of her father. She captured this one when he was coming back from feeding the pigs on the farm.

Steve Brenna, nephew of Millie Ruhr, created the design for the chapel and is helping with the construction of it.

The original farmhouse on Adelbert Avenue has been renovated, including the removal of the stone porch, which was replaced with a newer porch.

Hastings woman donates chapel to Inver Grove Heights church

In the 1880s, Adam and Eva Rosenberger settled in Inver Grove Heights after emigrating to America from Germany. 

Now, more than 100 years later, one of their descendants is donating a chapel to St. Patrick’s Cemetery in honor of not only her grandparents but her parents, Charles and Sophia Rosenberger, as well.

The new chapel, donated by Millie Ruhr, 95, who now resides in Hastings, has turned into a bit of a family affair.

 

The original Rosenbergers

Ruhr wrote a book about her family’s history in 1990. It tells the story of her father, Charles, and his parents.

“These were the first people who bought the farm [in Inver Grove Heights]. They were the original ‘Adam and Eva’ Rosenberger,” Ruhr says with a chuckle.

Charles was the youngest of the Rosenbergers’ sons. 

When Adam and Eva bought their 80-acre farm, they used the land to raise cows and grow vegetables. Charles eventually inherited the farm and followed his parents’ farming methods for the most part, with the addition of pigs to the livestock herd.

Millie says her father built a gas station in the 1930s because automobiles were becoming more popular and everyone was running out of gas and getting stranded on the highway.

Millie lived in Inver Grove Heights for 22 years until she married Edward Ruhr in 1943. All of the Rosenberger girls lived at home until they got married.

 

All in the family

St. Patrick’s was the Rosenberger family’s Catholic parish. Ruhr’s grandparents attended Mass there and the family burial plot is in the St. Patrick’s Cemetery. 

“That would be the place to put something to honor the family rather than the parish because at the parish, there aren’t many Rosenbergers left,” Ruhr says.

In a letter about the donation, Ruhr says St. Patrick’s Cemetery always held a special, sentimental interest to the family because so many loved ones are buried there. In fact, Ruhr’s late husband is interred there, and she intends to be buried beside him.

“It was the new family home for eternity and worthy of something special,” Ruhr says in the letter.

It was Ruhr’s brother Charles T. who originally had the idea to do something in memory of their parents, because of how hard they work to raise their children. However, his original designs for the cemetery chapel were too modest, according to Ruhr.

Luckily, Ruhr says her nephew Steve Brenna happened to be in town at the right time and said he wanted to design something.

“I don’t know if it would have happened if I hadn’t shown up,” Brenna says.

Ruhr says it must have been divine intervention, because if Brenna had not shown up when he did, the chapel would not have become a reality.

Brenna not only came up with a design for the chapel that his aunt, other family members and the parish priest liked, he made the cast stones that are on the chapel as well.

The family help doesn’t stop at Brenna. His brothers, John and Robert, have been helping along with his son Guyon. 

Brenna’s parents are also buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery. He says his parents get to sit up on the hill and watch him work.

“They can’t argue with me,” Brenna says, laughing.

Ruhr adds that her mother and father would be both astonished and pleased by the memorial chapel.

 

A unique place 

Brenna created a few designs to show the Rev. Bob Hart, the parish priest at Church of St. Patrick. 

Cindy Reckinger, parish administrator, says some of the designs were a little more elaborate than what Hart had in mind.

“He just didn’t want it to be as he put it ‘a cathedral.’ He told Steve that ‘Let’s not make it a cathedral. Let’s make more a church chapel,’” Reckinger says.

Reckinger says the chapel will help update the look of the cemetery and definitely will be an asset for the parish and people visiting the cemetery.

Before it burned down in 1920, the original St. Patrick’s Church was in the same general area of the cemetery as the new open-air chapel. Both of Ruhr’s older sisters were baptized in that church.

The cemetery is located about five miles southwest of the current church at the intersection of Rich Valley Boulevard and Blaine Avenue East.

Every Memorial Day, Hart says an outdoor Mass at the cemetery, and every Memorial Day it seems to rain, so he either gets wet or the service is cancelled.

“So now he can stay dry [as he says Mass in the open-air chapel] and everyone can bring their umbrellas,” Brenna says.

The chapel will also be used as a gathering place for funerals or possibly even a location for weddings. 

“People will find a use for it,” Ruhr says.

The design that was selected is a traditional, gothic style, Brenna notes.

When completed, there will be a Celtic cross at the back of the chapel. There is also a cross in the stonework on the patio that is almost a shadow of the cross on the chapel.

Under the cement, there are seven Miraculous Medals. According to the Roman Catholic faith, these medals bring special graces to anyone who wears them.

“We don’t know how that applies to this, but we just thought it’d be nice to throw in seven Miraculous Medals in memory of the seven children,” Ruhr says.

Work on the chapel began last fall. Brenna began making molds for the cast stone over the winter and work picked up again this spring.

The parish requested the chapel include a columbarium for the internment of cremated remains. Urns are placed in the niches of the columbarium, which serves as the final resting place for cremated remains. 

A lot of legwork has gone in to selecting the materials used in the chapel. The family and parish wanted durable materials like the slate on the roof and the red cedar on the underside of the roof. 

Ruhr says the family hasn’t allowed any substandard or “fake” materials in the building of the chapel.

Brenna hasn’t wanted to hurry the work on the chapel. They are hoping for a July 4 completion, but the chapel will “be done when it’s done.”

“We haven’t rushed with anything because ‘haste makes waste’ and we want everything done right,” Ruhr says.

The hope is for this structure to be there for a long time. A sign will be included saying Rosenberger Memorial Chapel so others know who the chapel is honoring.

After the chapel is completed there will be a dedication ceremony. 

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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