Monsignor Frederick G. Holweck, V.G., was one of the remarkable career immigrant ethnic priests who emigrated to the United States to work among newly-arrived immigrants--and built a number of thriving ethnic parishes, among them the historic Gothic St. Francis De Sales Church in South St. Louis.
Msgr. Holweck, born in Germany, emigrated with his parents to the St. Louis area. He studied at the German Roman Catholic Seminary in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and returned to St. Louis on his ordination on June 27, 1880, where he went on to found St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in the city's famed "Hill" Neighborhood (which closed recently in 2005).
He was named Pastor of St. Francis De Sales Church in the early 1890's by Archbishop John J. Kain, and charged with building a new church for the thriving immigrant parish. He selected architects Engelbert Seibertz from Germany and Victor Klutho,Sr. and Otto Ranft from St. Louis to pattern the new Gothic church on St. Paul's in Berlin, Germany (now demolished). The bilingual Holweck could speak nearly 15 European languages fluently, and had received extensive advanced theological education. He eventually was appointed Vicar-General for the Archdiocese--second in command to Archbishops Peter Richard Kenrick, John Kain, and John Joseph (later Cardinal) Glennon.
St. Francis DeSales Church is his monument--featuring a 309-foot Gothic steeple and 75-foot high interior Gothic vaulting, as well as ornate stained glass by Emil Frei Studios of St. Louis and Munich. Statuary and altars were made by the Friederich Hackner Co. of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, the Kaletta Statuary Co. of St. Louis, and Prof. Max Schneiderhahn of St. Louis. Altar ware and tabernacle were fabricated by the Mueller (Kaiser) Plating Co. of St. Louis.
Msgr. Holweck served as Pastor of St. Francis de Sales until his death in 1927. During his pastoral administration, St. Francis de Sales became the foremost German-American parish in the City. He also served the Archdiocese extensively as Vicar-General for the German-speaking Catholics.
After a Solemn High Funeral Mass celebrated by Archbishop John J. Glennon, he was buried on the Priests Lot at Old Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery.