Gracious God, You filled the heart of St. Rose with charity and missionary zeal, and gave her the desire to make You known among all peoples. Fill us who honor her memory as a Parish Family, with that same love and zeal to extend Your kingdom to the ends of the earth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Our Patron Saint
Patroness of the Americas
is the first canonized saint of the New World. Born on Peruvian soil, Saint Rose was Spanish, but it is almost certain that her maternal great-grandmother was Incan. She was the tenth of thirteen children, and her mother experienced no pain at her birth.Though exquisitely beautiful (hence her nickname, Rose), she refused to marry, and while helping support her family by needlework and growing flowers, she practiced heroic charity and lived as a Dominican Tertiary in her parents’ home. Saint Rose tenderly cared for the sick, even those with repulsive wounds, and she often obtained miraculous cures for people from the Child Jesus.
On other occasions, she worked miracles in order to feed the members of her family, and became known as Mother of the Poor. Saint Rose continually prayed and offered her sufferings for the conversion of the idolatrous Incas. In the year 1615, through her prayers, the Blessed Sacrament and the people of Lima were spared attack by savage pirates.
Saint Rose was a friend and confidant of Saint Martin de Porres, who lived in the same city. She was confirmed by Saint Toribio Mogrovejo, Archbishop of Lima. Her mystical experiences caused an ecclesiastical inquiry. Though dead at only 31, Saint Roses’ love of God was so intense that she was recognized as a saint in her own time and was canonized by the Church just 54 years later, in 1671 by Pope Clement X.
Saint Rose is the only American saint whose words appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. One quote from Saint Rose, “When we serve the poor and the sick we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.”
In the Beginning
The late 1800′s found Catholic families migrating to what is now the Crofton, Nebraska vicinity, a few coming from Illinois, and several moving here from Bow Valley, Neb., where parents had previously taken homesteads. The great majority were of German descent, whose families had come to America from the region of Westphalia, Germany. The German families crossed the Atlantic Ocean for varied reasons. Some left Germany because they saw no future in farming the tiny ancestral lands that had been subdivided among their family members for centuries. Others wanted to avoid revolution and strife, and a compulsory stint in the German army. Many Catholic families left because of a new policy enforced by the German government that strangled the traditional rights of the Catholic Church. They looked forward to the religious freedom of America and the openness of the Great Plains, where they could develop their own settlements, their own parishes and schools. They were soon followed by other families, but since the Homestead Act of 1862 no longer applied to land in this area, it had to be purchased. The migration was somewhat slower as the 1880s and 1890s drew to a close.
In those early days, Catholic settlers in this area attended Mass at St. Boniface Parish in Menominee, Neb., traveling by team and lumber wagon. Often they would stay the entire day, visiting relatives. When St. Joseph’s Church was built near Bow Creek at Constance, Neb., they transferred to that parish. The horse and buggy soon replaced the wagon, yet, in inclement weather, they sometimes resorted to riding horseback or going on foot.
In 1891, J.M. Pierce, an Englishman with financial aid from friends in England, attempted to bring the railroad from Yankton through this area and on to Norfolk, hoping to build a town in this vicinity. Enthusiastic local farmers offered their teams of horses and set out to help build a railroad grade across their land. Having come from Crofton Courts, England, Pierce offered the name “Crofton” to this town he hoped to build. In 1893, Croftonâ€™s first general store was opened by John Carmichael, which was a great help to the settlers in this area, as they previously had to drive to Hartington for their supplies. Unfortunately, the railroad venture failed and Pierce fled to South America. In the winter of 1896, a diphtheria epidemic struck the whole area, leaving a heavy death toll.
In 1906, the tracks for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad were finally laid to Crofton and regular service began. This brought in more settlers and boosted the morale of the community. The section foreman living in Crofton, Mike Casey, and his family, often rode to Constance for Mass on the handcar used by the railroad section men.
Catholic families in Crofton were attending Mass at Constance using any form of transportation available, but Mass was quite often held during the harsh winter months of 1906 and 1907 at the John B. Kuehn home in Crofton, which was located where the present St. Rose Church now stands. The Kuehns had two large parlors or living rooms which could be opened into one large room, with chairs and benches accommodating twenty or more people for Mass. Father Adam Brass from Constance, who had a room and office in the Kuehn home, was the celebrant.
In 1906, this area numbered about 19 Catholic families and five single adults, namely, the families of John B. Kuehn, Edward Kuehn, Frank Noecker, Tom Goetz, John Meyer, Frank Sudbeck, Joseph Kremer, Henry Willenbring, Sebastian Werthman, Henry Rohe, Bernard Rohe, Benedict Hegge, Frank Perk, Mike Biernbaum, Joseph Schumacher, William Thunker, Sr., John McCabe, Mike Casey, Joe Kuehn, Joe Meyer, Bill Schaefer, Joe Thunker and John Reifenrath. They now decided to take necessary steps to see if a Catholic Church could be built in Crofton. On October 8, 1906, a meeting was called in Omaha to incorporate the new parish of St. Rose of Lima in Crofton. Present at this meeting were the Right Reverend Richard Scannell, D.D., Very Reverend Augustine Colaneri, V.G., Reverend Louis Becker, pastor, John B. Kuehn and Frank Noecker.
For the church site, Lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Block 26 of Crofton’s Park Addition were purchased October 19, 1906, from Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Talcott and Mr. and Mrs. D.A. Matthews for the sum of $375. It was decided to place the church at the southern end of this property.
At a meeting held April 1, 1907, it was decided to build the church, a frame structure, 88 feet by 36 feet by 16 feet. On April 13, the dimensions were amended to 60 feet by 30 feet by 16 feet. The contract for the building was let May 27, 1907 to O.B. Wilson for the masonry work, and to William Nichols for the carpentry. Father Griese, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church at Constance at that time, ordered the altar, which cost $250. The side altars were made by the men of the parish. Henry Kuehn, father of John and Joe Kuehn, donated the bell, which cost $90. Sebastian Werthman and Frank Perk visited all the Catholic families for many miles around receiving donations, which they used to purchase the Monstrance and a Cope, to be used during Benediction.
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church was dedicated January 29, 1908, by the Very Reverend Father McCarty of Jackson, who offered the Mass. He served as representative for His Excellency, Most Reverend Richard Scannell, D.D., Bishop of Omaha, who was unable to attend because of poor health. He was assisted by Father Mueller of St. Helena, Neb., who delivered the sermon in German. The choir and Mass servers from Constance assisted at the dedication Mass.
First Resident Pastor
From the time of the dedication of St. Rose Church in January of 1908, Father Brass of Constance continued to serve as attendant pastor of St. Rose, along with Father John Pieper. Anticipating a resident pastor, the members of the parish began the erection of a parish house in the summer of 1908, at an estimated cost of $3000.
Father Brass was officially named St. Rose’s first resident pastor on August 20, 1908. Father Brass took on all the responsibilities of developing the new parish of St. Rose. He performed the parish’s first nuptial Mass offered for John Rupiper and Anna Werthman on September 8, 1908. Father Brass also performed the parish’s first baptisms: Alma Thunker and Alphonse John Kuehn, both of whom were baptized on November 15, 1908. Father Brass remained with St. Rose Parish until July 1909.
The first St. Rose choir was formed in 1908, shortly after the dedication of the church. Members of the first choir included: Joe, William, Frank, and Albert Noecker, their sister, Mary [Mrs. Paul Werthman]; Paul and John Werthman and their sisters, Anna [Mrs. John Rupiper] and Tina [Mrs. Henry Perk] and Margaret, Henry and Katherine Perk [Mrs. William Foxhoven], and Joe Kuehn. The organist was Nellie Casey.
Birth of St. Rose Catholic School
On July 6, 1909, the new pastor, Father Anthony Alberts, arrived to take over the duties of the parish. On September 28, 1909, a two-acre tract of land, one mile west of the church, was purchased from John Meyer for a parish cemetery, at a cost of $200.
On October 15, 1909, the first funeral Mass was offered in the new church for Matthew Amsdorff, father of Mrs. Mike Biembaum, followed by another on November 6, 1909, for Frank Perk, one of the parish founders.
Under the guidance of Father Alberts, the first group of First Holy Communicants received the sacrament at St. Rose on April 3, 1910. With a growing congregation and a large number of young people participating in the relatively new parish, Father Alberts realized the need for Catholic education for the children of St. Rose. Heeding the call from the Vatican to build parish schools and provide Catholic schools for the children of the community, Father Alberts began erection of St. Rose School in 1910. The site for the school and playground, Lots 15, 16, 17 and 18, had been purchased from the Talcotts and Matthews for the sum of $500. The contract for the school was $11,950, heating equipment $1,200, furniture, etc. $3,756.90, making a total of $16,906.90. The contractor was Henry F. Woerth of Scribner, Nebraska. The dedication took place on August 30, 1911, with Father Mueller of St. Helena presiding.
School commenced that same fall, staffed by the School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There were three Sisters at St. Rose from 1911-12, namely, Sister Edmunda, Sister Luitgard and Sister Agreda 1. In 1912-13, there were five Sisters including, Sister Edmunda, Sister Kosta, Sister Caritina, Sister Eustachia and Sister Vitalina. For several years, the upper floor of the school served as the convent for the Sisters.
Ten boys and seven girls made up the first class, namely: Henry Peitzmeier, Louis Hanson, Frank Magraw, Clarence Meyer, John Spenner, Tony Schumacher, Alphonse Sudbeck, Frank Peitzmeier, Joe Perk, Ted Magraw, Elizabeth Meyer, Agnes Leader, Theresa Dreismeier, Margaret McCabe, Theresa Noecker, Dulcis Gobel and Mary McCabe.
At this time, the parish had increased to about 35 families, and with local land agents making a drive for families to purchase property and move into the area, further growth was inevitable. It became necessary to enlarge the church in 1911, through a sanctuary addition. In 1916, the sanctuary was moved and a T-addition built between the sanctuary and the church proper. Before the work was completed, Father Alberts was transferred to Coleridge, Neb. in September of 1916.
Growth and Development, Great Depression and World War
On September 16, 1916, Father Joseph Bosheck from Coleridge assumed the duties of pastor at St. Rose. During his administration, the debt was liquidated, and improvements were made in the school and rectory. With increasing school enrollment, it became necessary to use the second floor for classes, and, therefore, necessitated the movement of the nuns to a new home. Our parish saw many young parishioners go off to World War I in France in 1917 and 1918, with the entire community watching the Crofton Journal each week for letters home from their sons and news from the front. The entire community was rocked as news trickled back home that three young soldiers from our community had died during this period. So, everyone was elated on November 11, 1918, when the armistice was finally signed and World War I was over.
On August 15, 1922, Father Bosheck supervised the purchase of Lots 13 and 14 for the parish. These lots contained the home of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Carlson, all of which were purchased for $2,800. Following some remodeling, the home became the convent for the Sisters. Father Bosheck was transferred to West Point, Neb., on February 14. 1932.
St. Rose Parish was blessed with another saintly and willing priest in Father William Cappius. Father Cappius, a World War I veteran, came to St. Rose from St. Joseph’s Church at Dodge, Neb., in February 1932. He succeeded in keeping the parish solvent in rough times of drought and the Great Depression. He even managed to pay off some remaining debts and to keep the school in full operation with the help and sacrifices of school families and the School Sisters of St. Francis. It wasnâ€™t easy and there were no doubt, extremely stressful days for Father Cappius, as evidenced in a letter existing in the Archdiocese archives from Father Cappius, requesting a one-year extension on a $550 loan from the Archbishop. Because of the cold winters of the 1930s, in December 1934, Father Cappius requested the Archbishopâ€™s permission to say Mass in the basement of the school, which was easier to heat. In 1940, Father Cappius began what was known as “God’s Acre”, a program designed to develop a building fund through the actions of farmers who were to give the yield from one acre of corn or its equivalent in cash – their “first fruits” – to the church.
The parish also began its fall bazaar, providing home cooked meals, entertainment and games. Nearly every family in the parish assisted in the bazaar. The events were originally held in the big room above what is now Peoplesâ€™ Grocery store in downtown Crofton. When the new church was built in the 1950s, and the old church structure was available for use as a social hall, the bazaar was moved to the parish grounds.
The community and nation were shocked when Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941. In the months and years that followed, many of the young people from the parish were off to war again, serving in the armed forces on the World War II battlefields of the European and Pacific Theaters.
On April 26, 1943, Mr. and Mrs. Glen Fults gave Lot 10 to St. Rose Parish, which adjoined the property owned by John B. Kuehn. On January 8, 1945, God called Father Cappius home. He was buried in the St. Rose Cemetery. Father Peter Grobbel served as the parish interim pastor until a new permanent pastor could be appointed.
A Time to Build
This appointment came on June 23, 1945, when Father Bernard Westermann of St. Andrew’s Parish in Bloomfield, Neb., took over his new duties in Crofton. Many repairs had to be made and the St. Rose Building Fund, which had been started by Father Cappius, was given new impetus. On April 26, 1946, a three-acre tract of land, adjoining the cemetery on the west, was purchased from John Meyer for $300.
On September 15, 1949, a corporation meeting was held, at which time they decided to purchase the John Kuehn property, Lots 7, 8 and 9, for the sum of $7,500. On November 27, 1951, after having obtained the consent of the building committee for a further purchase, a corporation meeting was held and it was decided to buy the Arthur Hansen property, Lots 5 and 6, for the sum of $8,000. The above property provided an excellent site for a new church, which was needed at that time, as well as a future rectory. Members of the building committee were: True Gobel and William Foxhoven, Trustees, William A. Arens, Casper Guenther, Otto Lintel, John Werthman and Henry Wortmann.
On May 28, 1951, the parish honored Father Westermann on the Silver Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood. He had been ordained at St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota on May 29, 1926.
On October 14, 1951, a parish meeting approved the building of a new church. James Loftus was selected as the architect. The contracts for the new church were let to Union Construction Company of Lincoln, with the cost of construction at $111,134. Other costs and contractors included: A.B. Vinatieri, Yankton, S.D., plumbing and heating, $12,946; and Anderson Electric Company, Hartington, Neb., electricity and lighting, $3,502.69, for a total of $127,482.69. The groundbreaking ceremonies were held April 20, 1952, with the Rt. Rev. Joseph B. Faike, Dean of Creighton, officiating. The laying of the cornerstone, by His Excellency, Most Reverend Gerald T. Bergan, Archbishop of Omaha, was held June 30, 1952. The new St. Rose of Lima Church was dedicated May 12, 1953, by Archbishop Bergan. The Solemn High Mass was offered at 10:30 a.m. by Father Westermann as celebrant, Reverend Herman Stahl, Osmond, Neb., as deacon, and Reverend Alfred Hoesing, Clearwater, Neb., as subdeacon.
The church, a beautiful structure of Romanesque style, was built of tan buff brick with precast art stone trim. The roof is of wood construction supported on laminated wood arches, which are exposed to the interior of the church. It is a one-story building without a basement except for a boiler room and large storage room. The nave has an approximate seating capacity of 500. The church’s original altars and communion railing were of Italian Cremo marble. The altar was consecrated, and the relics of St. Bonosae M. and St. Desiderii M., as well as those of other martyrs, were enclosed in the altar.
The first baptism in the new church was that of Arthur John Kuehler, son of Helen (Koch) and Clement Kuehler, May 14, 1953. The first wedding was that of Duane Goeden, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Goeden and Janet Janssen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Janssen. The only funeral recorded in 1953 was William Schaefer on January 19, 1953, and that was held in the old church. The old church was put into use as a social hall, so in the spring of 1958, some remodeling was done and new equipment added.
Many articles were donated to St. Rose at the time of the church construction by groups and individuals, including: a white vestment by Mrs. Andrew Bruder, the baptismal font by the C.D.A., the large altar crucifix donated in memory of Mr. and Mrs. John Kuehn by their children, the holy water font donated in memory of Mrs. Even Parkhurst by Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Collins, the high altar by St. Rose Guild, the tabernacle by the children of St. Rose School, the Stations of the Cross by the children of St. Rose School, the communion railing by the Catholic Order of Foresters, the pulpit by the C.D.A., the sanctuary light by Mr. and Mrs. Norman Kube, the candlesticks by the John Arens family, the chalice by Mr. and Mrs. August Mueller, the white and gold cope by Mr. and Mrs. William Foxhoven, the censer and altar bells by the Children’s Sodality, the decorating of the Blessed Virgin Mary statue by the Young Ladies Sodality, the decorating of the St. Rose of Lima statue by Clara Steffen, and the lawn seed donated by Paul Kohles.
It was a year or two after the dedication of the new church in 1953, that Father Westermann received permission from Archbishop Bergan to purchase stained glass windows for the church at an approximate cost of $7,000.00.
On September 3, 1954, Father Westermann and Father Raymond Auer, Hartington, left for Europe where they spent eight weeks. Father Westermann brought back the document with the Apostolic Blessing for St. Rose Parish and also for the Sisters and pupils of St. Rose School.
In 1957, a parish meeting approved the plan to erect a new rectory, and on July 9, 1957, the bids were opened, with Hoesing Construction Company of Hartington receiving the construction contract for $33,320, Krueger-Ihle Company of Norfolk, Neb., the electrical and lighting for $1,771, and Berendsen Plumbing and Heating of Crofton, the plumbing and heating contract for $5,865, for a total of $40,956. Work was begun in July, with the site just south of the new church. Father Westermann moved into the new rectory on January 10, 1958. It is a one-story structure of tan buff brick, matching the church.
The members serving on the building committee at that time were: Herman Tramp and Ben Hegge, trustees; William Foxhoven, Casper Guenther, Alfred Hesse, Gregory Steffen and Henry Wortmann.
On June 10, 1958, St. Rose of Lima Parish celebrated the Golden Jubilee of its parish dedication. Archbishop Bergan of Omaha was present. The Mass was offered at 10:30 a.m. by the Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph B. Faike, V.F. He was assisted by priests of the deanery. At noon a parish dinner was held in the church hall. At the time of St. Rose’s 50th anniversary, there had been 275 marriages and 1450 baptisms recorded in the parish since its beginning in 1908.
Even though a new church had been built and dedicated, it wasn’t possible for Father Westermann to rest on his achievements. Many more improvements needed to be made, but before these were begun, special honors were due Father. On December, 15, 1959, Archbishop Bergan presided at rites conferring Papal Honors on nineteen clergy of the Omaha Archdiocese, including Father Westermann, who was invested as Domestic Prelate with the title of Rt. Reverend Monsignor Westermann. On Sunday evening, December 20, Msgr. Westermann was guest of honor at a reception held at the city auditorium. The program, with Edwin Tauer as master of ceremonies, included tributes given by the St. Rose school children and the parish choir. Congratulations from the different organizations were given. Spiritual bouquets were presented from the St. Rose school children and the Creighton Deanery. A monetary gift from the parish was presented to him.
So the work continued. In 1960, Msgr. Westermann received permission to install a fire detection system in the St. Rose School at an approximate cost of $1,900.00.
In February, 1961 the old St. Rose Rectory was sold at auction to Mel Grandorff for $645.00. Some time later, fire, believed to have been caused when workmen were disassembling plumbing in the house prior to moving the house to a new location, caused between $500 and $1000 damage, burning several holes in the northwest corner of the house.
In May 1961, bids were opened and let for the erection of an addition to St. Rose School. The building was to be an addition but not connected to the old building, to be of concrete blocks and buff-colored brick, 66 by 60 ft., with the entrance facing east. The building was to be set on the northeast corner of the lot. The contract called for completion five months after beginning of work. Bids accepted were as follows: general contract, Hoesing Bros., Hartington, $32,810; electric contract, Larry’s Electric Co., Bloomfield, $2,210; plumbing, Dietsch Hardware, Fordyce, $3,167; heating, Broadway Sheet Metal, Yankton, $2,983.
On October 24, 1962, the parish was shocked to learn of the death of Msgr. Westermann, following a severe heart attack. He was buried in St. Rose cemetery, making the third priest to be interred there. The other two are Father William Cappius, former St. Rose pastor and Msgr. Francis Werthman, a St. Rose native son.
Father Conrad Spenner was appointed to be an administrator at St. Rose after the sudden death of Msgr. Westermann, until a new parish pastor could be appointed. Father Spenner remained at St. Rose until January 17, 1963.
Implementing Second Vatican Council
Father Conrad Kaup, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church at Fordyce, Neb., was transferred to St. Rose. On November 25, 1963, a building committee composed of Daniel Janssen, Albert Kohles, Norman Kube, Roman Kramer, Lucian Perk and Louis Tramp, was appointed to decide the issue of where the new convent should be built. Trustees were Ray Donner and Greg Steffen. They decided to buy the property, house and lot, adjacent on the west to the church property for $9,000.00. On March 17, 1964, bids were let for the new convent as follows: Hoesing Construction, Hartington, $69,385.00; Lange Electric, Crofton, $6,453.00 and Kinning Plumbing & Heating, $6,998.00. The convent is a one-story structure of buff-colored brick, which matches the St. Rose Church, rectory and new school addition. The house has seven bedrooms, two guest rooms, music room, sewing room, a chapel, living room, dining room and kitchen. The combination recreation and community room is in the basement. It is supplied with electric heat. The seven School Sisters of St. Francis living at Crofton at the time moved into the new structure during Christmas vacation, 1964.
Also in 1964, Father Kaup saw to it that two more classrooms were built onto the new school, first begun during Msgr. Westermannâ€™s tenure. This construction completed the new school, which housed the first through fourth grades.
Father Dan Galas came to St. Rose from Randolph in June 1964, to serve as assistant pastor with Father Kaup. His duties as assistant pastor included grade school athletics at St. Rose, and he was also in charge of the Catholic Youth Organization, which started June 16 of that year. Father Galas remained until June, 1966.
On September 9, 1965, word was received of the death of Msgr. Joseph Bosheck at age 90, former pastor of St. Rose from 1916 until 1932.
In August 1966, realizing the need for the Sisters to have their own transportation, the parish collected donations and purchased a new car for use by the school and Sisters. They had been dependent on the parish members for transportation prior to this time.
In 1966, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontiface gold medal was given to Mary Janssen by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI. The Rescript read as follows:
“This medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice was instituted by Pope Leo XIII on July 17, 1880, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. This medal is bestowed upon those who are eminent in their devotion toward the Church and the Papacy.
His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, Supreme Pontiff, has deigned it fitting to select and bestow upon Mrs. Mary Janssen because of her distinguished work for the church, this illustration insignia of the Sacred Cross, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal.”
At a special 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Rose Church on a Sunday in September 1966, Father Kaup pinned this medal on Mrs. Janssen. A special dinner for the congregation followed the Mass. Mrs. Janssen was State Regent for the Catholic Daughters of America for six years. She helped organize other courts throughout Nebraska and attended most of their National Conventions.
In 1968, after two Sisters transferred to other schools, the trustees decided to operate St. Rose School with four Sisters and four lay teachers.
Also in 1968, the church was remodeled to comply with requirements of Second Vatican Council. The main altar was turned to face the congregation and the communion railing was removed.
In the wake of violence experienced by Crofton soldiers who served in Korea in the early 1950s and through the horrific bloodshed of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Crofton and St. Rose Parish provided a tranquil, peaceful setting for our soldiers to return home to. The parish and St. Rose School continued a strong pattern of growth.
The second assistant pastor to arrive at St. Rose was Father Ronald Battiato, who came to us from his assistant position at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Omaha. During his assignment at St. Rose, Father Battiato served as religion teacher for 290 pupils at St. Rose School. His stay in northeast Nebraska also involved work in the religion department of Cedar Catholic High School in Hartington, where he served as Guidance Director. In June 1969, Father Battiato was transferred, ending our luxury of having an assistant pastor.
Father Kaup played an active role in the organization of a parish council and school board in 1969. On March 11, 1971, Father Kaup left for his new assignment at St. Philip Neri Parish in Omaha.
On March 11, 1971, former assistant pastor at St. Rose, Father Galas, came to be pastor at St. Rose from his parish at Pender, Neb. During Father Galas’ administration, he endeared himself not only to the parishioners of St. Rose but to all others with whom he came in contact. Since the building had all been completed, it remained for Father Galas to administer to his parishioners, church and school, which more than consumed his time. He was known to enjoy playing ball with the grade school children in what little spare time he found. Having an extraordinary sense of humor, he also was the proud owner of his infamous “Smiley Shirt”, which he wore at the annual parish bazaars. In January 1976, Father Galas was assigned to the parish at Blair, Neb.
Redecoration and a New Parish Hall
Upon the transfer of Father Galas in January 1976, Crofton native, Father Timothy Lange, was appointed pastor of St. Rose. Father Lange was a polished and gifted musician, who shared his musical talents with St. Rose Parish through piano lessons and through periodic special organ concerts, especially through the Easter and Christmas seasons. Vatican II had proposed liturgical changes and had set deadlines for implementation. Under Father Langeâ€™s guidance, St. Rose came into compliance.
Some of the liturgical changes included: the Holy Eucharist being placed in the hand of the recipient during Communion distribution, the installation of face to face reconciliation eliminating the need for a confessional, and parishioners were welcomed into an overall increased participation in the Liturgy.
In 1977, Father Lange and a committee, following a parish display of the plans, let the contract to the Breitfelder Studios of Lincoln, to begin the modernization of the church sanctuary. Remodeling the physical church involved moving the main altar out from the area that was the main sanctuary, closer to the congregation seating, changing the baptistery into a reconciliation room, moving the choir and musical instruments to the sanctuary, replacing the large crucifix with a Risen Christ, replacing the north side altar with the baptism font and establishing a smaller south side altar that would hold the tabernacle.
The former confessionals, one on the north side and one on the south side, featured the statues formerly above the side altars, namely, the north side graced by the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph and the south side with the Sacred Heart and St. Rose of Lima, the patron of our parish.
Four pews, removed to make room for the altar extending into the nave of the church, were placed on the north side, facing the altar, and four on the south side, facing the altar. The remodeling cost totaled $31,662.65.
A few years later, air conditioning and ceiling fans were installed in the church and air conditioning was added to the rectory, after receiving a bequest from an estate specifically for that purpose. The total cost of the air conditioning was $11,407. Father Lange also lent his organ for the parish’s use at Mass until a new organ was purchased for the sum of $14,500.
These changes were accomplished in time for the parish’s 75th Jubilee on June 5, 1983. Archbishop Daniel Sheehan celebrated the Jubilee Mass at 2 pm. Offering the sermon for the occasion was Father Donald Stortz, pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Platte Center, Neb., and former pastor at St. Joseph Parish at Constance.
The celebration included a large parade, a beard and old time attire judging contest and parish history exhibits located in the church hall. A public dinner in the Crofton Public School gymnasium followed the Jubilee mass. Many former parishioners, St. Rose School teachers, students, Sisters and pastors were in attendance. At the time of the Jubilee, St. Rose Parish had recorded 823 baptisms, 304 weddings and 224 funerals from 1958 to 1983. That year, there were approximately 350 families in St. Rose Parish and 80 to 100 single individuals.
In the spring of 1976, members of the Eastern Energetics 4-H Club planted trees around the church and school grounds. From 1976 to 1981, this same group planted flowers around the church each spring. In 1982, Lucky Livewires 4-H Club took over the flower-planting activity. This was not only a learning experience for the children, but also added to the beauty of the parish campus.
Father Lange also held a unique appreciation dinner for EMHCs, lectors, those visiting the sick, trustees, parish council members, school board members, maintenance workers, the Sisters, high school religious education teachers, APC delegates, finance committee members, family ministry members, deacons, choir members, ushers and any other groups or individuals who had helped with parish ministries.
In February 1983 Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hames and family gave $3,000.00 for carillon bells, which was set in the north sacristy, bearing a plaque in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Anton Hames.
In early September 1984, St. Rose began construction of a new parish hall. The building committee included Father Lange, Lyle Leader, Jim Wortmann, Dorothy Schieffer, Lawrence Arens, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Wysuph, Bernard Ausdemore and Jim Buschkamp. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 16, 1984. Cost of the new parish center, made of tan-buff brick matching the other structures on the parish campus, was $254,823. A garage was also built just north of the hall. The general contract was let to Christiansen Construction of Pender, Neb., with St. Rose parishioner, Lawrence Arens, serving as contract foreman, and with local parishioners helping out with the project.
The new hall was 80 feet by 90 feet, with 10-foot sidewalls, block and brick structure, pitched roof and a centrally located kitchen along the north portion of the building. The main banquet area was 60 feet by 90 feet, also serving as a gymnasium for St. Rose School. The hall was dedicated on January 7, 1985, with the first events held there shortly afterward. The old church building was razed in March that same year, having served the parish first as a house of worship and as a social hall after the new church was built.
Today, the parish center serves as the social center for the parish and school. It is used nearly every day of the week, for ministry, meetings, school functions and sporting events, educational programs, the fall bazaar, fish fry and Unity Supper, as well as for weddings, funerals, anniversaries, retirement parties, graduations and birthdays.
Also in 1985, a group of friends trying to raise money for the new church hall, founded the annual parish fish fry, one of the earliest fish fry dinners sponsored by local parishes. Two hundred people were served the first year, but the annual Lenten event has grown to serve around 1000 meals in recent years. Other new fundraising, social events followed, including a summer Dinner and Dance with a unique theme and a Monte Carlo Night around St. Valentineâ€™s Day.
The St. Rose Educational Endowment was begun in 1986, to build up a strong interest-bearing account, that could provide financial assistance for St. Rose School for years to come.
Time to Renew
Father Lange left St. Rose for a new assignment in Stanton, Neb., in June 1986, with the debt of the new parish center nearly two thirds paid off. Father Emmett Meyer joined the parish as the new pastor. During the time of his appointment, the Archdiocese promoted a spiritual renewal effort throughout the parishes of northeast Nebraska through a program called, appropriately, “Renew”.
Parishioners formed small prayer and study groups that met weekly over a three year period, in order to support each other and discuss ways that they could enhance and deepen their personal faith. Father Meyer presided over this important time period. Father Meyer left St. Rose in July 1987, and Father Steven Stillmunks filled in as the parish's temporary pastor through the month of August.
During his short tenure at St. Rose, Father Stillmunks endeared himself to parishioners through his humorous homilies and light spirit. Father Ralph Steffensmeier was named new pastor of St. Rose in September 1987, coming from Sts., Peter and Paul Parish in Bow Valley.
Father Steffensmeier was known throughout the community to people of all faiths as someone with a gentle heart and kind spirit, who always wore a smile on his face. He was able to keep the parish financially stable throughout the aftermath of the 1980s farm crisis, the uncertainty after the sudden closing of Crofton State Bank, and reopening of the bank as a branch of Farmers and Merchants State Bank in 1987, and the severe drought of 1988.
He could often be found playing basketball with the school children or with the parishâ€™s high school students. He also loved a good game of golf, and was an accomplished golfer, even on the challenging new Lakeview Golf Course opened by Crofton residents near Lewis and Clark Lake in 1989.
With several parishes consolidating and sharing services in order to make efficient use of parish priests available in the Archdiocese, St. Joseph Parish at Constance joined St. Rose Parish as a mission in 1991.
Father Steffensmeier says that while he was at Crofton, he recognized the importance of St. Rose School and enjoyed watching the young people grow and mature in their faith. He was also impressed by the way parishioners worked together at functions like the fall bazaar, with everyone participating to pay down the parish debt. St. Rose has a good parish family spirit, according to Father Steffensmeier.
Father Steffensmeier took on a new assignment at Holy Ghost parish in Omaha in 1996, and was replaced by Father Ron Wasikowski. Father Wasikowski was known during his time at St. Rose for his meaningful and enthusiastic homilies and his well-prepared and thought-out liturgies. The High School CCD program gained new impetus with Father Wasikowski, with greater attendance, more volunteer teachers and a new name “FFY” meaning Faith Formation for Youth. Father Wasikowski also worked hard to begin to raise teacher salaries at St. Rose School, which at the time were among the lowest in the Archdiocese.
St. Rose Church Gets a Facelift
In May 1997, Father Wasikowski gained a new assignment in Elkhorn, Neb., and he was replaced by Father Bob English, from St. Mary’s Parish at Spencer, Neb. During the early years of Father English’s time at St. Rose, a new parish function called the Unity Supper, was initiated. The new event sought to bring parishioners together for an evening of fun, including a catered meal, entertainment, and a Grand Auction, to raise funds for the parish. Father English led an adult formation group based on the principles of Contemplative or centering prayer.
After suffering winter ice damage, numerous cedar trees around St. Rose Cemetery were removed, and replaced with Colorado Blue Spruce trees, with volunteers conducting the removal, planting and watering of the new trees, donating funds in memory of loved ones. In 2001, generous workers donated and installed the Holy Innocents Memorial in the west portion of the cemetery, and paths and gravesites were established in that section. A new fence was built along the south side of the cemetery nearest to Highway 12.
Numerous improvements to the parish structures took place during Father English’s tenure. In 2000, a new sound system was installed in the church and tuck-pointing of the church building was completed. Then in 2001, air conditioning and new energy efficient windows were added to St. Rose School. Throughout 2001, a redecoration committee was formed to detail a plan to renovate the church interior, which hadn’t been updated for 25 years.
The major renovation included: updating the heating and air conditioning, providing a new bell system and new glass doors at the entrances of church, etched with roses. The entire interior of the church was repainted and gold leaf dÃ©cor was applied to the finish. Woodwork was cleaned and varnished. The statues were refurbished and moved to the front of the sanctuary, as they were placed originally when the church was built. The choir and organ were moved from the sanctuary, back to the choir loft. A new, seven-foot, oak crucifix replaced the gold Risen Christ in the center of the sanctuary. The main altar was moved back into the sanctuary proper, and the pews and kneelers were all refurbished. New carpeting was installed in the church as well. The total cost of the renovation was $231,445. Parishioners made pledges over a period of time to pay for the improvements. The church was rededicated with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Elden Curtiss in December 2002. Former St. Rose pastor, Father Lange, donated money to concrete a large portion of the church parking lot, so that was also completed in September 2003.
The St. Rose School “Legacy Drive for a Faith-Filled Future” was initiated in 2003, to provide an accessible savings account for the operational expenses of St. Rose School. The St. Rose School Boosters, consisting of school families, friends, supporters, staff and alumni, began promoting and administering the drive, which continues today.
In late 2003, a group of school parents and volunteers began refurbishing the main entrance and classrooms of the upper grade school building. They also added new cabinets in the classrooms, handcrafted framed flags of the United States, the State of Nebraska and the Catholic Church to the main hallway, framed portraits representing the Sacraments, and woodframed documents of freedom of our country. The labor and cost of the entire project was donated by school supporters, along with numerous new donations and volunteer efforts on behalf of the school.
Companions on the Journey
In June 2004, Father English was reassigned to Mary Our Queen Parish in Omaha and Father Joseph Broudou, from St. Joseph’s Parish at Springfield, Neb., took up his new assignment at St. Rose and St. Joseph Parishes. Father Joseph put a new emphasis on parish organization and stewardship. He began reorganizing many of the parish committees to help increase involvement of parishioners in the functions and ministries of St. Rose. The last of the church redecoration debt was paid off and a new sound system was added to the church and parish hall in 2004 and early 2005.
The local court of the Catholic Order of Foresters was reorganized in 2005, after disbanding in the mid-1980s. Through donations, a new Nativity Set was also purchased for the church. Plans were laid for a major parish campus renovation project, that included refurbishing the rectory and new landscaping, grass seeding and sidewalks around the rectory, convent and parish hall, at a total cost of $75,000. In the rectory, new windows, refinishing woodwork, painting and a new heating system were added. The money was raised through donations of $250 or more made by scores of parish families. With another donation from Father Lange, plans were made in 2007 for adding concrete to the north section of the parish parking lot.
Father Broudou, a native of the island of Mauritius, an island off the east coast of Madagascar, officially became a U.S. citizen on March 10, 2006. St. Rose Parish and the Crofton American Legion Post honored the occasion of Father Broudouâ€™s American citizenship with a special presentation of a U.S. flag during a weekend Mass.
A new school security system was donated and installed in 2006. Ad hoc committees representing several parish groups organized surveys and studies to help prepare a plan for the future of the parish. Father Broudou also revitalized the FFY and RCIA programs and taught adult Faith Formation classes through the winter months.
In April 2007, while staying over at St. Rose Parish to celebrate Confirmation, St. Rose school children were honored when Archbishop Curtiss visited their classrooms, talking with teachers and students. That same spring, after considering the recommendations and considerations of area parishes, Archbishop Curtiss clustered several parishes that would share pastors and services, in order to address the shrinking number of priests available to serve the growing Catholic population of the Archdiocese, particularly in metropolitan Omaha.
As a result, in June 2007, St. Andrew Parish in Bloomfield joined St. Rose in a new cluster, with Father Broudou continuing to reside at St. Rose. Our mission parish since 1991, St. Joseph Parish at Constance, joined a new cluster with St. Boniface at Menominee and St. John the Baptist at Fordyce.
Also in 2007, St. Rose School went through an important transition, when the last School Sisters of St. Francis, who had served the school since it was founded in 1911, moved on. Sister Charlotte Schuele, SSSF, had served as teacher and principal at St. Rose School for 27 years, when she retired from her educational ministry and turned to a new ministry as a hospital chaplain. Sister Sigfrieda Hettinger, SSSF, had also served St. Rose School as a teacher, classroom aide and volunteer for many years, until she retired during the summer of 2007 and moved to St. Joseph Convent Retirement Home in Campbellsport, Wisconsin. Scott Becker, formerly from East Catholic Elementary School at Bow Valley, was hired as the new Head Teacher, replacing Sister Charlotte.
In the spring of 2007, St. Rose School decided to add Preschool to its list of class offerings, filling in an otherwise unavailable service for the Crofton community. The Preschool had sixteen students when it opened in August. To facilitate efficient use of staff and facilities, the school combined 3rd and 4th grades into one class, so there would be room and staff for the Preschool.
The parish bazaar, fish fry and Unity Supper remained the major fundraisers for the parish, but several other events are conducted each year for the parish and the school, including raffles, a golf tournament and bake sales. Generous stewardship continued to increase, with the Unity Supper alone raising receipts from $28,000 in 2003 up to over $50,000 in 2007, with attendance of around 300 people, 30 volunteer youth, and auction donations from over 180 businesses and families. New fundraisers and efforts on the part of the School Boosters to grow the Legacy Drive and educational endowment continue.
St. Rose Cemetery also received a facelift in 2007, with the refurbishing of the crucifix, statues and memorial at the center of the older east portion.
The parish celebrated its centennial in 2007 with several special events including a potluck dinner, an ice cream social, bake sale and card socials, leading up to the Centennial Celebration, June 21 and 22, in 2008. The celebration included a parade, beard and attire judging contests, quilt show and fashion show on Saturday, June 21. On Sunday, June 22, Centennial activities began with a special celebration of Mass at 10:30 am by Archbishop Curtiss. There was a catered parish meal at noon and a Centennial program following in the afternoon.
Over the last 25 years, from 1983 until August 2007, St. Rose Parish has had 556 baptisms, 227 marriages and 305 funerals. Throughout the first century of the parish, there have been a total of 806 weddings and 2829 baptisms. Nearly 2000 students have walked through the doors of St. Rose School since it opened in 1911.
While history is often concerned with buildings and structures, the first century of St. Rose of Lima Parish has been dedicated, more importantly, to ministering to the Christian people of the area and helping families live out the Gospel message of love. During the first 100 years of the parish and school, sacrifices have been many, and there have been days of trial as well as success.
But it has been a spiritual adventure of faith for our parish, and we, St. Rose parishioners, our clergy, our school families and faculty, our School Sisters, our volunteers, members of special ministries and our parish founders, have all been companions on that important spiritual journey through our first century, as we embark on our second century of faith.
St. Joseph Parish at Constance
(former mission parish to St. Rose, now attached to St. Boniface at Menominee, St. John the Baptist at Fordyce)
Reports from as early as 1868, have German farmers settling along West Bow Creek, in the vicinity of what is now Constance, Neb. At first, the Catholic families attended Mass at St. Helena, Neb. In those early days, the rural village that was developing was known as Centre Bow. When a new school building was erected in 1874 and District 26 was organized, Mass was celebrated there.
Centre Bow families were served by pastors from Bow Valley, Hartington and Menominee. In 1888, a post office was commissioned and the town was renamed Constance, in honor of Konstanz, Switzerland, the native home of Father George Baumgartner, who was serving the community at the time.
In 1894, a new church was built near the school by local carpenters, dedicated, at the urging of Father C. Renner, to St. Joseph. In 1895-96, several families of the region displayed almost unimaginable spiritual strength, when they lost young children to the tragic diphtheria epidemic. In 1896, Father Baumgartner was officially named the first resident pastor of St. Joseph Parish. In 1899, the church was struck by lightning, destroying the bell tower and damaging the front of the church. Repairs were made and a second sacristy was added.
Father Baumgartner died in 1900 and was buried at St. Joseph cemetery. In 1897, Holy Cross Chapel was established at the Lammers Ranch, serving as a mission of Constance until St. John the Baptist Parish at Fordyce, Neb., was established. St. Joseph pastor, Father Adam Brass, served Constance in 1907, until St. Rose Parish in Crofton, Neb., was established a year later, and he was reassigned as the first resident pastor there.
A rectory was completed in 1910 and the former rectory became a convent for Sisters of the Order of Divine Providence, who arrived in 1912. St. Joseph Parish at Constance was officially incorporated in 1923, and a cornerstone for a new school and community center was laid in 1926.
By 1954, the Benedictine Sisters came to Constance to teach the parish school children. Many of the country schools in the area were closing, so enrollment grew to 96 pupils in 1961, representing one hundred percent of the grade school age students of the parish. Cedar Catholic High School was established in 1964, serving students from Constance and nine other area parishes. By 1967, he Benedictine Sisters were unable to staff St. Joseph School, so a plan was worked out for the parish children to attend St. Rose at Crofton or West Catholic in Fordyce.
In 1965, 80-year-old Father Hannon built the St. Joseph Shrine on the parish grounds, with the statue arriving from Italy. The convent was sold in 1971, and the school building was contracted with the local Head Start program from 1971 until 1980. St. Joseph Parish provided a perfect, tranquil rural backdrop for a crowd of 2000 people, who attended a special Holy Year outdoor field Mass in 1974, celebrated by Father Don Storz on the flatbed of a haystack mover.
St. Joseph shared a pastor with St. John the Baptist Parish at Fordyce for many years, so the rectory was rented, until it was sold in 1987. In 1991, St. Joseph became a mission of St. Rose at Crofton, with Father Ralph Steffensmeier serving both parishes. During that time, parishioners participated in strategic planning for the Cedar County Catholic Education Commission.
In June 2007, St. Joseph Parish joined a new cluster that includes St. Boniface Parish at Menominee, Neb., and St. John the Baptist at Fordyce, with Father Mike Schmitz serving all three congregations. The parish remains zealous in ministering the faith, including strong religious education and ministry programs and a wonderful summer parish dinner and bazaar.
St. Joseph Parish, in many ways, was the role model for St. Rose parish founders, and many St. Rose families descended from original St. Joseph families. The two parishes are joined by their common heritage of faith, and even with the new cluster, they will always be important partners in serving Catholic families in the region. St. Joseph Parish, in many ways, is the perfect, peaceful rural church, and has always been the “church home” for Catholic families living along Bow Creek and beyond.