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Catholic Parishes(A - B)
As stated above, the first Czech church in Nebraska was built in Abie, in 1876, being 24x48 feet in size and of simple construction, for most of the parishioners themselves were living in sod houses. John Wall, a German Lutheran, donated ten acres and sold ten more at $5.00 per acre, being the southeast quarter of Section 22, Township 16, Range 4 east. The lumber was brought from Fremont, thirty-three miles away. In 1877 a Mr. Stevens built a store near the church and requested a postoffice, which was granted and he named it Abie (after his wife Abigail). In 1887 two railroads built through and Abie was moved a half mile further.
The first priest was Rev. Joseph Hovorka, born in 1846 in Rychnov nad Kneznou, ordained July, 1872. Re came to Nebraska in 1877 and upon meeting with his countrymen in Schuyler, was asked to take charge of the church in Abie, which he did, arriving there July 20, 1877. In 1878 he began to serve in Appleton (from Abie), where forty parishioners had built a little church. From 1885 to 1890 he had charge of the church in Heun and in the spring of that year (1890) left for Bohemia, where he died a few years ago.
He was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Koutek, born April 10, 1863, in Lipkova Voda, ordained in Chur, Switzerland, July 14, 1889, and died July 22, 1897. He replaced the old building by one that cost $5,000.
His successor was Rev. Francis Zalud. He came to the Lincoln diocese in 1893, serving in Crete and Wilber, and in 1897 substituted for Rev. F. Hovora in Plasi for half a year, going from there to Abie. While in Abie he built the church in Linwood, and was transferred to Bruno February 1, 1902.
He was succeeded by Rev. Vaclav Pokorny, during whose term a rectory was built. Rev. Pokorny was born in 1869 in Habry near Caslav. He graduated with honors in 1890 from the grammar school in Caslav and the High School in Nemecky Brod. In 1890 he entered the seminary in Hradec Kralove, where he was ordained by Bishop Brynych in 1894. He served as assistant in his native diocese until 1898, when he left for the United States. In Nebraska he first assisted in Crete.
Rev. Pokorny was succeeded in 1908 by Rev. John Novotny from Prague, for a short time and he in turn, in January, 1909, by Rev. Matej Nemec, who stayed until September, 1916. Rev. Nemec was succeeded by Rev. Jaroslav Hancik, who stayed until the fall of 1917. Rev. Hancik endeavored to build a new church, but was able only to effect the donation of the site by James F. Pavel, for collections were slow. Rev. Hancik also served Linwood from Abie. In the fall of 1917 he was followed by Rev. Francis Kopecky, who in September, 1919, was succeeded by Rev. Victor Mlejnek, the present incumbent, during whose time the church has been completely and artistically furnished, the rectory repaired, a lodge and dance hall bought and remodelled and a Catholic Sokol club founded. June 29, 1926, the parish celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.
Rev. Mlejnek was born in Ratiskovice near Hodonin, Moravia, studied in Brno, the capital city of Moravia, and finished in Baltimore. He was ordained there by Cardinal Gibbons in 1910. His first parish in Nebraska was that of Plasi. Until June 18, 1918, the church was situated three-fourths of a mile north of Abie, where also stood the rectory and small hall. On that date the church (already once rebuilt) burned down. A new brick church was then erected in town, on land donated by James F. Pavel, and the rectory moved there. The church was finished in the fall of 1919 and consecrated June 29, 1920.
The first church was built in 1877 on Peter Maly's land. From that date until 1890 Rev. Joseph Hovorka of Abie held services every third Sunday. In that year (1890) a severe windstorm destroyed the church and the parishioners decided to build another in a more favorable location. Anton Sonka donated the site and in 1891 Rev. Joseph Koutek, successor to Rev. Hovorka in Abie, held first services in the new building. He used to come once a month until 1897, when he died and was succeeded by Rev. Francis Zalud, who served in Appleton from Abie until 1902, when he was transferred to Bruno, and until 1921 served in Appleton from there. In 1921 he was succeeded by Rev. Francis Cerny, born July 31, 1879, in Zabori, educated in Budejovice, ordained July 22, 1906, by Right Rev. Bishop Joseph Ripa, in Budejovice. He remained in Bohemia until October 1, 1920, came to Nebraska March 1, 1921, and in October, 1921, began to serve in Appleton from Bruno. Rev. Cerny endeavored to make Appleton a regular parish, but did not succeed. After his departure for Texas, Rev. Zalud again served from Bruno. He was succeeded in Bruno by Rev. Bauer, who also took care of Appleton. In the spring of 1923 Rev. Cerny returned from Texas and with the permission of Bishop O'Reilly a rectory was built and Rev. Cerny became first resident priest, until April, 1924. He was succeeded by Rev. H. Verhelst (not a Czech) who remained until January, 1926, when Rev. Vaclav Pokorny, the present incumbent, succeeded him.
In 1910 eighteen families in Bee and vicinity decided to build a church and the same was erected in dimension 36x80 feet, with a steeple 75 feet high, on two lots. This church was built through the efforts of Monsignore Alois J. Klein of Brainard, who founded the congregation and served the first mass October 19, 1910. The church was consecrated by Bishop Tihen. Rev. Michael Pazourek, incumbent in Dwight, took care of the congregation until May 7, 1918, when Rev. Joseph F. Bauer became the first resident priest. Rev. Bauer bought thirteen lots, in addition to the two on which the church stands, and the residence of Jacob Sedlak, for $7,500.00. The residence became the rectory, so that now the parish owns half a block. January 1, 1922, Rev. Bauer was succeeded by Rev. Fr. Zalud, present incumbent.
As early as 1884 an attempt was made to organize a parish and build a church. On February 2nd of that year a meeting was held, attended by thirty-two members and a committee chosen, but difference of opinion prevented any conclusion. It was not until 1887 that two lots were bought and plans made for building a church. On May 6, 1887, Rev. Jordan Stutz served the first mass, another on August 7, and again on November 6 of that year, all in a public school building. In the fall of that year a church 36x60 was erected, all of the work being done by the parishioners. On May 30, 1888, the first mass in it was celebrated by Rev. Stutz. Rev. Matej Bor, then incumbent in Wahoo, Saunders County, began to take care of the congregation in March, 1889, coming once a month. In November, 1889, Rev. Bor was succeeded in Wahoo by Rev. Alois J. Klein, who continued coming to Brainard even after he was transferred to Crete on December 10, 1891. On August 15, 1892, Rev. Klein called a meeting for the purpose of making plans to provide a rectory and in February, 1893, the home of Mr. J. T. McKnight, a banker, was bought for the purpose. On September 5, 1893, Rev. Klein was transferred from Crete to Brainard, becoming the first resident priest, which place he still holds. He is now the oldest, in point of service, of the Czech priests in Nebraska and has been longer in one parish than any other. Because of his long and tireless efforts in organizing congregations and building churches, rectories and schools, and because of his literary ability, special mention is made of him together with several others under the heading "Priests Who Have Achieved Distinction."
On October 7, 1896, the church was consecrated by Bishop T. Bonacum, of Lincoln. On June 10, 1906, the cornerstone of the new church, for twenty years the largest and most stately Czech church in Nebraska, was laid. This building cost over $47,000, the main steeple being 109 feet high and containing three chimes, dedicated by Bishop Bonacum on June 30, 1909. An organ, costing $3.600,00, is part of the furnishings. The entire amount was collected from the surrounding countryside. Rev. Klein, now Monsignore Klein, also built a school building costing $52,000, where classes in ten grades are taught. More detailed mention of it is made in the chapter on schools. A rectory, costing $25,000.00, was built in 1927.
In 1899 T. J. Roche of David City received $1,000 from A. Hirst of Philadelphia, a lawyer, as a gift with which to build a church for poor Catholics in Nebraska. Upon consultation with M. Mahoney, a banker in David City, they decided to help the Czech Catholics of Bruno. A church was therefore built and dedicated October 10, 1899. From that time to January 31, 1901, Rev. Francis Zalud used to serve from Abie. Rev. Zalud was born in 1866 in Libicka Lhota, near Chotebor. He studied in Telc and Nemecky Brod, theology in Brno, Moravia, and finished in Louvain, Belgium, where he was consecrated a subdeacon by Cardinal Gooseuse and ordained by Bishop Mershart. He came to Nebraska in 1893, serving in Crete, Wilber, Plasi and Abie. While in Abie he built the church in Linwood, which was consecrated by Bishop Bonacum. Rev. Alois J. Klein succeeded him, coming from Brainard, until October, 1901, during which time he built a rectory. He was in turn succeeded by Rev. Zalud, who now became resident priest and took care also of Appleton. July 29, 1904, a tornado destroyed the church and a new one, 40x84, was built and consecrated November 16, 1904. Rev. Zalud was succeeded by Rev. Jos. F. Bauer, present incumbent, in 1922. Rev. Bauer was born April 18, 1877, in Hrachovec, Valassko, Moravia, studied in Kromeriz, Valasske Mezirici and Olomouc, in which latter city he was ordained July 5, 1902. In 1913 he came to this country. Until 1918 he was at Solon, Iowa, and until 1921 in Bee, where he was first resident priest and was instrumental in purchasing thirteen additional lots. In Bruno he helped to put in improvements costing $5,000.00.
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