By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Father Edward Nemeth feels blessed to be in Ste. Genevieve.
“Any time you come in as an outsider, you’ve to worry about, ‘Am I going to fit in?’ ‘Are they going to be willing to trust new leadership?’” he said. “I found very quickly that this community will welcome anybody that loves and understands our history and our traditions, and also someone that’s going to work.”
He then added with a smile, “Being a bunch of Germans down here, we value people that work hard and are committed to our mission.”
That feeling of blessedness was only increased when he was selected as Grand Marshal for the 2022 Ste. Genevieve Holiday Christmas Festival Parade. In fact, when Annette Rolfe, president of the festival board, informed him, he was stunned.
“When Annette called, I was shocked. I’m used to standing, cheering at the parade, not being driven around in it,” Father Nemeth said. “I was very honored and humbled. She said part of the thing was my contributions to the community, not the church. I never really look at it that way. I’m kind of always one that’s driven, of ‘What’s next?’ ‘What else can I be doing?’ ‘What more should I be doing?’”
He said this honor has given him a chance “to stop and look back.”
“I’m just honored. There’s so many other people in our community who do so much,” he said. “Maybe they’ve already hit all those people and I’m all that’s left. I’m very honored because I think one of the great blessings of our community are these great events.
“From the Christmas Celebration to Pecanapalooza and the heritage festival to Jour de Fete, those are such unique things that bring so many people to the community, and there’s so much pride. I’m honored because I love the events that we do.”
Father Nemeth was born in Allentown, Pa., moving to north St. Louis County when he was young. He spent eight formative years in Bellefontaine Neighbors before his father got a job in Ashland, Ken., necessitating another family move. He had just finished his freshman year when he moved to the Blue Grass State.
By the end of his high school days, he was interested in entering the priesthood. He entered Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, studying for the St. Louis Archdiocese. He was ordained in 2008.
He served as associate pastor at St. Joseph’s in Imperial, while teaching at St. Pius X High School in Festus. He spent nine years there before coming to Ste. Genevieve in 2017. He transitioned entirely into education during his time at St. Pius, eventually becoming president – the title he now holds at Valle Catholic Schools, in addition to pastor of the Church of Ste. Genevieve.
“Mainly I was sent here because of the financial challenges of the time,” he said, “which, thanks be to God, we’ve overcome many, many challenges in that area.”
He was later named pastor of Sts. Philip and James Church in Staabtown.
“So, I’ve kind of been serving in three capacities,” he said.
Although Ste. Genevieve is smaller than Nemeth’s previous communities, he finds himself busier than ever.
“I actually find the pace of life of my ministry is much faster here,” he said, “because there is so much going on, there are so many opportunities for good. The school keeps me very active. That really is my joy, education.
“I appreciate the community and life of being in a rural area. I appreciate that more than I ever thought I would. It does remind us of home in Pennsylvania.”
The new pastor quickly meshed with the community.
“I truly think what we have in Ste. Genevieve is so unique and special,” Father Nemeth said. “I hope we never lose sight of that and continue to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us.”