Nature is not always kind in northern South Dakota. World depression and long drought combined to wreak real hardship upon the rural people of Holy Cross in the dark days of the thirties. It occurred to Father Bormann that if he could learn to make his own altar candles he could sell extra ones, thus aiding his flock in their distress. So, he and friends laboriously melted old candle stubs and new beeswax on an old wood-burning range in the rectory basement.
They experimented with different kinds of string for wicks,
then different treatments for the string. Father Bormann read, studied,
thought, prayed and worked. He tried everything he could think of until he
had a candle that would burn. Then he worked still harder to make a candle
that would burn evenly. Eventually one was developed that was beautiful,
burned well, did not drip, and did not get tired and fall over in the searing
heat of summer. Crude machinery was constructed to increase output.
Father's priest friends tried his candles, pronounced them good, then told others. As word spread, Father Bormann found himself head of a thriving candle business.
Somewhere in a monastery, he saw a brother put a cheese glass over a Paschal candle as a follower. This gave him the idea for a glass follower which he later patented.
Proceeds from the sale of candles and followers kept the church and school going. Perhaps as reward for his devotion, God let him live to see his bitterest opponents reconciled.
Father Bormann's charity went far beyond candles. He had established Perpetual Adoration in the school chapel. When blizzards kept farmers from their appointed hours before the Blessed Sacrament, Father himself knelt there on his weary knees between midnight and dawn.
Keeping God's good land in the parish was more than a theory with Father Bormann. His profits from the factory helped keep many a hard-pressed family on the land. Shortly before his death, he and his assistant checked his bank balance. Father Bormann's life savings totaled 38 cents.
When candle profits plus all of the people's efforts to raise funds were not sufficient, Father Bormann wrote a book to make money for the church and school. A student of the Bible, he composed a commentary on St. Luke's gospel.
After the war, Father personally solicited his farmers for grain to send to the Pope. In 1947 Holy Cross parish pledged a carload for the Holy Father to distribute to starving people of Europe.
One of Father Bormann's parishioners who knew him well, wrote in eulogy:..."His was the busy life of the missionary priest who must be father, teacher, doctor, judge and friend. In his eagerness to advance the Catholic faith in Ipswich he built Holy Cross school to teach the children not only the usual fundamentals, but their religion as well...To the valiant, vital and alert efforts of Father Bormann, Holy Cross owes much..."
The Lux Candle Company is now owned and operated by Mike,
Doug and Lawrence Heinz. The products of the candle company are still made
to the specifications as originally set up by the late Father Bormann.