Boeglin, Hilger contribute to area’s German history


JASPER — Father John Boeglin of Jasper won the 2018 German American Heritage Award, the annual honor presented Thursday evening by the Jasper Deutscher Verein in celebration of the area’s history. Pfaffenweiler native Matthias Hilger was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.


The honors were awarded at the annual German-American Day celebration.

According to a press release from a representative with the Jasper Deutscher Verein, Boeglin, who is pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Jasper, truly understands the importance of German heritage and he enthusiastically promotes the area’s local heritage. From translating personal letters for area residents, to promoting the “Friendship Relationship” with Wagshurst, Boeglin educates about and raises awareness of the county’s German heritage.

His connection with his own German roots runs deep. Knowing that many German immigrants came to Dubois County in the mid-1800s and that he had relatives in Dubois County, he invited residents of Wagshurst, Germany, to Celestine’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1993. They accepted his invitation and more than 120 international visitors arrived in Celestine for the festivities. Boeglin served as the guests’ housing coordinator.

The Wagshurst community then invited Boeglin and friends to visit their homeland, so in the summer of 1995, 70 guests from Celestine and surrounding communities arrived in Wagshurst, Germany. Today the friendship between the two communities continues. This past summer, Boeglin invited Wagshurst residents to come to Celestine to help celebrate their 175th anniversary.

During his years as pastor of St. Peter Celestine Parish, Boeglin and staff compiled a genealogy book entitled “Our Connections to the Past: St. Peter Celestine Ancestral Charts.” These charts were completed for more than 600 parishioners.

He continues his work in the Jasper community as the pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church. He is also a member of the Jasper Deutscher Verein and is the chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, Jasper Council #1584.

Boeglin was ordained a priest in 1978, at his home parish of St. James. After several assignments in the Evansville area, he came to St. Peter Celestine in Dubois County in 1987.

Hilger, a German native, received the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of the many activities he has been a part of throughout his time in Jasper.

According to the press release, upon moving to the city in 1987 through the Sister Cities program, he immediately became involved in the Jasper community. He is the unofficial German ambassador from Pfaffenweiler, serving as the active link, communicator, translator and organizer between the two towns to assure a strong relationship into the future.

The release said he is “Mr. Go-To” for whenever anyone needs info about traveling to or visiting Germany. He’s also the person who is always looking for ways to honor others, and never seeks the limelight himself, preferring to work behind the scenes.

Several years ago, he was awarded the German Friendship Award from the German Ambassador to the United States in recognition of his endeavors in fostering and sustaining friendships between Germany and the United States. It is the highest award an ambassador can bestow upon an individual.

“I didn’t expect that,” Hilger said of winning the Jasper Deutscher Verein’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “I was quite emotionally moved by it due to the surprise. You always work for the community, you always do things for that, and you never look for recognition. It was a really emotional feeling to be recognized for it.”

Hilger is a self-employed, wood industry components sales representative. He lives in Jasper with his wife, Kathy. They have two children: a daughter, Amanda (Huelson), and a son, Alexander.

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