Stone's Folly: Birthplace of the 20th Century Pentacost

Jun 4, 2013





 In the late 19th century an Italian nun, Sister Elena Guerra, implored Pope Leo XIII to call the Catholic Church to pray for a new Pentecost. The Holy Father issued an encyclical, “Divinum Illud Manus” in May 1897 on the topic of the Holy Spirit and in response to the request of Blessed Elena Guerra (founder of the Oblate of the Holy Spirit), Leo began the century by chanting the Veni, Creator Spiritus. He also asked the bishops of the world to join him in making a Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Renewal of the Catholic Church.

Meanwhile, far from Rome, in Topeka Kansas, a Methodist minister in the Holiness Movement unknowingly was answering the Pope’s call, as he led a group of students in studying the Acts of the Apostles, sanctification, and the outward signs of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Charles Parham leased Stone’s Mansion, a still unfinished castle-like building that had been vacant for ten years, to house his independent Holiness School known as Bethel Bible College. The structure was better known to Topekans as “Stone’s Folly”. The students chose one of the two towers as a prayer tower and committed to 24 hour prayer asking the Lord to send the Holy Spirit with outward manifestation of Tongues. Parham believed this gift would enable missionaries to go straight to the foreign mission fields without language training. As the new century dawned, Parham and the students prayed in the prayer tower. At around 11:00 PM on New Year’s night, January 1, 1901 Agnes Ozman asked Reverend Parham to lay on hands and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Their prayer, the prayers of Sister Elena Guerra, and the prayers called for by Pope Leo XIII were answered as a New Pentecost arrived. The power of the Holy Spirit came upon Agnes Ozman. Others present reported that a halo surrounded both her face and head and she started speaking a Chinese language. In fact, she was unable to speak or write in English for three days. Word traveled fast and several area ministers were prayed for and also received this “Blessing”. Parham and his students had to leave “Stone’s Folly” when the American Bible Society, owners of the building sold it. They resettled in Kansas City, but the movement of the Spirit that began in that drafty Topeka castle was the beginning of all the Pentecostal Denominations and sixty-six years later, in the Charismatic Renewal of the Catholic Church called for in the Leo XIII Encyclical.

“Stone’s Folly” was bought by the Topekan Harry Croft on July 20, 1901 and it was converted to a “roadhouse”. It figured conspicuously in a number of raids. Only a few months later, December 6th, it caught fire and burned to the ground. All that was left was the foundation and a few pieces of wood and trim. Those pieces were incorporated into the much less ornate structure that was built on the foundation. That building is the Rectory of Most Pure Heart of Mary Church at 17th and Stone Streets. Now in place of a prayer tower is vibrant Catholic Parish serving over 1500 families, and just a few feet from that original foundation is the Most Pure Heart of Mary adoration chapel where 24 hours a day/seven days a week, prayer before the Body of Jesus in the Eucharist continues.

The Charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to be manifest through the Glory to God Covenant Community, which has met on the Parish grounds for over thirty-five years. During this time, over 5000 Christians, Catholic and many from other denominations have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit through annual “Life in the Spirit” seminars on site, as well as seminars conducted all around North East Kansas. Glory to God is a founding member of The Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, officially recognized as a private association of the Christian Faithful within the Catholic Church. The Catholic Fraternity is made up of Catholic Charismatic Communities, and strives to identify with the saving mission of the Church, in communion with the Pope. Charismatic Prayer Meetings are open to the public and are held the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month, Masses with Prayers for Healing are offered when a 5th Thursday occurs in a month, generally quarterly. Glory to God Community outreach includes various Ministries including a Prison Ministry at Kansas Correction Centers, teaching on Pope John Paul ii’s “Theology of the Body”, Ignatian Exercise of Prayer, audio and video teachings from outstanding Catholic Teachers and Apologists offered in groups as well as for individuals with a CD and video ministry. Glory to God assists Two Community sponsored Catholic Missions in Kenya and numerous other ministries conducted by community individual members.

So much has come from this little plot of land at 17th and Stone in Topeka. “Stone’s Folly” turned out to “Folly” only to those who did not recognize its place in God’s plan. (For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the Power of God… Corinthians 1:18, English Standard Version)


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