March 22, 2024

Mass Excursions

St. Ambrose Parish in Seymour does ‘welcoming right’

By Natalie Hoefer

St. Ambrose Parish in SeymourCatholics were reported to reside as far back as 1834 in the area now known as Seymour. But it took the growth brought by the expansion of railroads in the southern Indiana town to lead to the creation of St. Ambrose Parish in 1860.

With railroads come people, and the parish population began to grow.

It is still growing, says parish pastor Father Daniel Staublin.

“We’re a blend of families that have been here several generations and a lot of newer, younger folks,” he says. “Many Latinos are settling here, too. We’re about 25% Latino, so we’ve been able to blend the [Anglo and Latino] groups and do a lot of things bilingual.”

The largest parish ministry is its school, which Father Staublin says has a student population of “about 50-50 English and Latino. The [state] vouchers have enabled us to serve many families that otherwise might not be able to afford a Catholic education.”

With the church located downtown, the parish is greatly involved in serving the community, says Father Staublin.

“We have a very active St. Vincent de Paul conference that really reaches out—the whole community benefits from that,” he says.

“Our Knights of Columbus is very involved in the community, too, and integral to Seymour’s Octoberfest. They offer a third Friday broasted chicken dinner every month that brings in more non-Catholics than Catholics!”

A large part of the parish’s volunteer efforts goes toward Anchor House, Jackson County’s only housing shelter. The

non-profit organization offers two homes, life skills classes, help in finding permanent housing and employment, and a twice-weekly food pantry.

“A lot of our parishioners volunteer there,” Father Staublin says. “As a parish, we take up a food collection for the pantry during Lent. The Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul and our youth ministry serve meals at Anchor House. And the parish was instrumental in helping feed those in need during the COVID shutdown.”

One unique feature Father Staublin notes about the parish church is that it is open every day from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

“I’m always amazed how many people stop by to pray,” he says. “Whenever I walk in the church, there’s almost always someone there lighting a candle or praying.”

The church, dedicated in 1871, is more than 150 years old. Father Staublin calls it “a beautiful structure with wooden altars at the front and side. There’s an icon of St. Ambrose and an almost life-size print of Our Lady of Guadalupe from the Basilica” of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

A good time to come to Seymour to worship with the members of St. Ambrose is during the fall for the parish’s Hispanic Heritage Fiesta, says Father Staublin.

“It brings together people from different backgrounds—Mexican, Guatemalan, Venezuelan, Columbian. They all prepare native dishes and perform traditional dances. It happens each year around the end of September or early October.”

Father Staublin recommends visitors check out the colorful murals painted on the historic buildings in downtown Seymour. He particularly notes the mural of John Mellencamp.

“His song ‘Small Town’ is about Seymour,” he says. “He grew up here and still visits quite frequently.”

Father Staublin also recommends eating at Larrison’s Diner, which he says is “popular among the locals, with photos of celebrities who stopped in there to eat.”

He says St. Ambrose Parish is known for being welcoming.

“I get many letters from people who visited, and they write to say how nice it was here, how welcoming it is,” says Father Staublin. “We invite all to come to Seymour for the day and come celebrate Mass with us at St. Ambrose.

We do welcoming right.”

St. Ambrose is located at 325 S. Chestnut St., in Seymour. For Mass times, call the parish office at 812-522-5304 or go to

Other things to see and do in Seymour:

—Freeman Army Airfield, active during World War II from 1942-1946, and Freeman Army Airfield Museum. While stationed here, members of the all-Black “Tuskegee Airmen” bomber group attempted to integrate the white Officer’s Club. The incident was a catalyst for the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces, according to the airfield’s website. Information: 812-271-1821,

—Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, where natural wetlands attract and provide habitat to birds and other wildlife. It has been designated as a Continentally Important Bird Area. Muscatatuck offers walking trails, an auto tour and events and programs throughout the year. Information:

—Chateau de Pique Winery and Brewery offers wine and handcrafted ales and lagers, live music events and camping. Information: 812-522 9296,

—Shadowood Golf Course, offering a par-72 course, indoor golf, a driving range and a bar-and-grill. Information: 812-522-8164,

—Shieldstown Covered Bridge, 1917 E. County Road 200 N., in Seymour. Built in 1876, this “rare variant of the Burr Arch Truss” style was restored for more than $1 million in 2019. Information:

(Mass Excursions is a monthly feature highlighting an archdiocesan parish and local attractions, encouraging a trip to the area that includes Mass with the members of that parish. Each month will highlight a parish in a different deanery to showcase faith communities throughout central and southern Indiana.)

Local site Links: