St. Francis De Sales Church, Schoolcraft, Madison County
Another mission attended from St. Bernard for many years is St. Francis de Sales' congregation at Schoolcraft, Madison county. The organization of the parish is related by Rev. Bonaventure, O. F. M., in a letter to the diocesan superiors as follows: "In the summer of 1887 somebody of Schoolcraft came to St. Bernard asking for a priest, to come and give services at Schoolcraft and to help to get a church there. About the thirteenth of June, 1887, I said Mass, preached, heard confessions, and gave Communion at the Joseph Clinch house. Then I searched out the number of families, sought information about Bohemians, Germans and Irish. One or two Bohemians were present (a certain old man, Ludwig, known to the Very Rev. Administrator). The assembly made the impression on me that a colony of very negligent Christians is living out here, who do not like to pay, who wish great conveniences, and are (what affected me most), in the saddest state in regard to their salvation."
N.B. We need not wonder at this for these poor people had lived 10 to 12 years remote from church and had not received any attention probably partly more or less through their own fault, and partly because of the lack of Bohemian-speaking priests, though the Rt. Rev. Apostolic Vicar had made repeated attempts to get such and had appealed even to the Pope, whereupon some Bohemian-speaking Jesuit Fathers were sent, who remained for a number of years in Nebraska. Again the Vicar Apostolic sent Fr. Otto J. Groenebaum to Bohemia to bring over priests with but limited success.
A CHURCH IS ERECTED
Father Bonaventure continues: "One day, when the Rt. Rev. Bishop administered the Sacrament of Confirmation at Madison, delegates came from Schoolcraft with a long subscription list for their new church. They failed to mention, however, that the list contained names of Catholics and Protestants and Jews and of men of no religious belief, largely businessmen of Madison, Lindsay, Humphrey, etc. Upon assuring his Excellency that they were able to erect a church and pay for it, he gave them permission to build one. Thus in substance reports Fr. Bonaventure.
When the latter heard that the church was finished, he asked the Rt. Rev. Ordinary for instructions and was directed "to go thither and do for them what he could."
Fr. Bonaventure thereupon made it a rule on Mondays to go from Madison, attended twice a month, to Schoolcraft, to give the people instructions on Tuesdays after Mass. He also gave them Mass on the fifth Sundays of the month and on holidays of obligation. This was the best he could do, as he was in charge of St. John's, Joliet twp., St. Leonard's at Madison and of St. Bonaventure's at Raeville, missions rather far apart. Frank Murphy and Frank Ambroz, the main promoters and first trustees elected by the people, had named the church in honor of St. Francis de Sales and insured the first church building in the Home Insurance Company, while the diocesan regulations directed otherwise. Fr. Bonaventure had the policy changed as soon as feasible.
In a letter dated June 23, 1888, Fr. Bonaventure writes: "There is rumor and noise about many things. But with St. Paul I can say, My glory is in the testimony of my conscience. I have not spared myself, I have been ready for the people at all hours. I was in their houses, I visited them and I have to apply (adapt) myself to the circumstances I live in. I heard last time thirty-nine Communicants' confessions. I cried but for the children, as I always do, and heard about fifteen children's confessions only, not the third part. And even then, how cautious one must be. They sent me children all at once to the confessional, whom I hardly saw before. Do they know the principles (essentials) every one must know to receive any Sacrament? Can I send them away to prepare? Moral theology urges it. But I instruct them at confession, prepare and absolve and am glad, though the foolish parents even then send them not to "instructions."
"Only time may cure this. If I should show any ill humor, all would be lost."--N.B. To this, the Rt. Bishop made the glossary: "And a wise rule authoritatively urged."
In his great zeal for souls the pastor also again and again applied to the Rt. Rev. Ordinary for the canonical establishment of various confraternities and devotions, such as the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, the Confraternity for aiding the Souls Detained in Purgatory, that of Mount Carmel, of the Living Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, etc.
FR. BONAVENTURE STUDIES THE BOHEMIAN LANGUAGE
As only some Bohemians spoke German and English well enough, Fr. Bonaventure set to work to study the Bohemian language in order to help his parishioners more efficaciously, as he describes in a letter to the Diocesan authorities (Very Rev. Wm. Choka, Nov. 30, 1890).
"Dearest Very Rev. Administrator: -- The Bohemian language, I see now has its difficulties. I may read well enough to be well understood by all Bohemians. But I must prepare myself as when formerly preparing for Cornelius Nepos--to learn how the many, many forms and changes of letters come and it is so that I may give proper expression and accent to what I am reading, when reading the gospel. Truly, I did not think of a casus instrumentalis and localis, of a "transgressive" of so many declensions. My book "Joseph Masaryk" commenced with bryti, and the conjugation (in present, future and imperative, infinitive) and now there are six conjugations and six declensions, with so many single letters and strange suffixes, not to speak of the adjectives, etc, etc. Still I must see to learn for God's sake, as far as He will give me success. At present it is of no purpose, to let even a Bohemian priest come. On week days Bohemians do not come, and there is literally no income. I baptized three Bohemian children of one family for nothing, only to gain the other children and people, three or four other Bohemian children remained (until now) unbaptized, not to have trouble, lose time and perhaps on account of some fee. Still let us hope about twelve older Bohemian children and some younger ones, who come regularly and eagerly to instructions and learn the catechism. "Pochvalen bud Jezia Kristus."
Your h. servant,
P. Bonaventure Faulhaber, O. S. F.
St. Francis De Sales' Church, Schoolcraft, Madison Co.
FATHER BONAVENTURE SEEKS TO ORGANIZE THE PARISH
When the chapter in 1890 reappointed Fr. Bonaventure pastor of Schoolcraft, he made the following publications, which gave a glimpse of the pastor's mind and at the same time conveys some idea of the difficulties met with in organizing a small and poor congregation at the time when the Franciscans came to Nebraska and even for many years later. Heretofore the parish must have had only what was absolutely required for divine service, some candlesticks and one or the other vestment, etc.
"The priest will provide all who desire it with crucifix, catechism, holy pictures and Bible history. All who have reached the seventh year and have not yet learned to make their confession, must learn to do so, as also the manner of receiving Holy Communion worthily.--To get God's blessing, Sundays and Holydays must be kept holy. On Sundays, on which there are no services, the people should recite the rosary or other prayers at home. If some one, say the mother, must stay at home, the others must attend Mass, and even the mother should go to church occasionally. Scandalous and dangerous amusements must be avoided.
"For the upkeep of the church some fund or sources of income are needed. Our altar must be fixed somewhat better. There are no pictures, no statues, no stations of the cross, no books, not even candles for the altar, no pyxis for the Blessed Sacrament, only one of the
most common chalices, the most common vestments, no Benediction veil, no cope. And if any of us should die, we could rot say a requiem Mass, because we have no vestments.
"We do not yet have any salary to be given to the priest, we must contribute to certain collections, we must pay insurance and buy coal for the winter, we still owe a few items. To secure funds, Fr. Bonaventure recommends some lawful festivals and societies for young and old of either sex: The Altar society for the ladies and young ladies and St. Francis de Sales Society for the men and young men. Thus they would soon be enabled to procure candles, flowers, stations, a bell, etc., required for the church and altar and things needed for the priest's room. In order to start the societies immediately, the pastor appointed as officers for the Altar Society, Mrs. Francis Ambroz, Mrs. Hauck and Miss Alice Carraher, and for the St. Francis Society, Messrs. Thomas Lestina, Richard Clinch and John Vilg.
Besides voluntary donations in cash, the priest must be taken from and to St. Bernard, or if this cannot be done, by some, they are expected to contribute $1.50 instead. As other sources of income Father Bonaventure mentions pew rent, plate collections at the Sunday service. N.B. Father Bonaventure had been relieved by the chapter of the Raeville and Madison missions, to devote more time to St. John's Nepomucene and to St. Francis de Sales missions, who now got what they had often wished to have-services twice a month.
Fr. Bonaventure then continues his publications: A sum of fifty dollars must be raised for the support of the priest, i. e. per year. A meeting of the men of the parish was called to decide upon this matter. Thirty men pledged a sum of $59, of which sum $35.50 was paid to the pastor. The committee presiding at this meeting was composed of Messrs. Francis Ambroz, Thomas Lestina, John Magner and Thomas Carraher.
LIST OF FIFTY-SEVEN FAMILIES AT SCHOOLCRAFT
(By Fr. Bonaventure, O. F. M.).
Patrick Manning, Frank Murphy and Helen Brock, Wm. Jilg and Mary Frisch, Peter Finnegan and Bridget Rooney, Peter S. Carraher and Mary Ryan, Jacob McMahon and Sara Carey, Wm. Gossen and Margaret Doran, Frank Dietterich and Mary Bolz, Joseph Gampa and Johanna Fietter, John O'Brien and Bridget Roch, Joseph Clinch and Mary Barron, Patrick Carraher and Mary Sidley, John Casey and Helen Green, Mathias Herda and Anna Ambroz. Joseph Kuhash and Katherine Kooridoa, Jacob Holy and Mary Kooridoa, Jacob Blazny and Catherine Bashtish, Joseph Kinklar and Mary Wyt, Thos. Lestina and Veronica Vlazny, Frank Ambroz and Anna Lazena, Frank Broz and Elizabeth Nachazel, Jacob Carrol and Mary Tully, Jacob Hartlitzkt and Catherine Dusa, Thos. Carraher and Catherine E. Silk, John Francis Dvorak, Joseph Schuyler and Catherine ----, John Kukra and Frances Sasha, Adalbert Brozek, Francis Ambroz and Mary Sitza, Joseph Brozek and Mary Pracma, Joseph Dworik and Frances Richeka, John Rasenshek and Anna Jedlicka, Joseph Vech and Barbara Shamonoa, Jacob Ambroz and Mary Broz, Andreas Boncar and Catherine Bomba, Joseph Panek and Elizabeth Dworik, Joseph Psoda and Mary Dobruska, Joseph Chutka and Rosa Bolek, Justus P. Carraher and Catherine Cunningham, Joseph Vlazny and Elizabeth Ambroz, Carl Schider and Cecilia Niesner, Frank Hauck, widow Anna Kolar, Haworka, Michael Nemecz and Anna Kamis, John Groz, Christian F. Baish and May Kuech, Joseph Pospisil and Frances Chrastil, Frank Duffy and Helen Casey, Joseph Storek and Mary Adamek, Wenceslaus Adamek and Mary Duklansky, Frank Broz Jr., John Dvorak, Joseph Lewis and Eleanore Mulvihill, Albert Lovelace and wife.
REPORT OF OCTOBER, 1888
In his report to the Bishop, October, 1888, Fr. Bonaventure says about Schoolcraft: "Debts for church and residence are about $100.00." As to St. Francis de Sales: the census could not be given exactly enough, since for want of time we could not personally see all Bohemian families, though the names and numbers of the children of families were inquired (into) and mentioned as above. Some five or more children not baptized, several mixed marriages, are not included. Four German families, very negligent, are living among the Bohemians; ca. twenty-eight families speak the Bohemian; ten to twelve (mostly) good Irish speak the English language. With the exceptions of a few, the Bohemians formerly lived in regular Catholic parishes, but since five to six years, living in Schoolcraft, they more or less decayed and are in need of a Bohemian priest at least once in a while to hear their confessions, and to exhort them in their own language.
Remark 1. As to Schoolcraft, being a place peopled by Bohemians, Irishmen and Germans, who neglected religion the last 9 to 12 years, where there are great labors and almost no material and no spiritual helps--the ordinariate has been informed by the undersigned pastor--
which communication is kept at the Archives and may show the further particulars."
Fr. Bonaventure, O. F. M.
The Right Rev. Bishop had made all kinds of attempts to get priests for the Bohemians, appealed to the Pope, sent Father O. J. Groenebaum in 1877 to Europe, to obtain especially Bohemian priests, but with small success. Editor.
FINANCIAL STATEMENT FOR 1889
|Collection for church articles||
|Subscriptions for Church Building||
|Collected for festivals||
|Collection for our Bishop||
|Collection for Indian and Negro Missions is||
|Collection for Holy Land||
|Collection for Episcopal Fund||
|Total Receipts in 1889||
|Ordinary Improvements for church||
|Ordinary expenses for church and house||
|Amount of debt paid||
|Collection for Indian and Negro Missions||
|Collection for Holy Land||
|Collection for our Bishop||
|Value of church property of every||
|Indebtedness since last statement||
|Amount of debt paid during present year||
|Dues in favor of church||
There is no seating yet.
Signed by P. Bonaventure Faulhaber and the Trustees.
REMOVAL OF REV. FR. BONAVENTURE
In the catechetical instructions Fr. Bonaventure questioned not only the children but even adults. To save their face when unable to reply to the priest's queries, Pat would, at times, dodge the issue by saying, "Father, I know it in Irish, but not in English." Fr. Bonaventure repeatedly would lock the church doors to keep people from playing "hookie" at these instructions. Driving to or from his mission the pious Fr. Bonaventure would either recite his breviary, rosary or other prayers, often on his knees, and not infrequently ask the driver to join in the rosary, or he would talk on pious subjects, often quizzing the driver in catechism. Once he threatened the ignorant "catechumen" P. N. with lifted finger: "You are lost, you are lost," and the quick-witted Irishman got back at the priest between Cornlea and St. John's by pretending to have lost the way and asking his Reverence: "Father, where are we?" The priest, of course, did not know, not paying attention to the road, and now Pat retorted: "Then you are lost, you are lost." Revenge is sweet.
Father Bonaventure also used to delay service to await the arrive of stragglers coming at a distance. In the confessional he was slow and exacting, often refusing absolution and telling the penitent to come again.
Such things finally were reported to the Rt. Rev. Bishop and the Provincial had to recall the kind-hearted and saintly, but awkward priest, "because, though he might be a saint, he was not a pastor."
FATHER BONAVENTURE'S SUCCESSORS
Successors to Father Bonaventure were Rev. Valentine Dorenkemper, O. F. M., January, 1893, who soon took over St. Mary of the Angels, from Humphrey, and Rev. Salvator Lehman, who held a picnic and realized about $200. Differences arose as to the use of the money which was then lent out to the superior at St. Bernard, who later claimed part of it for salary due. For sometime St. Francis' was without Divine service. At the request of the Bishop, to return the money, it was turned over to his keeping until an agreement had been reached as to the use of the fund. During the rectorship of Rev. Herbert Stotter, O. F. M., a high altar made by Mr. J. Drueppel, of St. Bernard, was purchased for it. This was later sold to Rev. Hildebrand Fuchs, O. F. M., for use in the basement church at Madison. Rev. Thielman had been tendered the parish, but the Franciscans were soon requested to return.
Father Herbert was succeeded by Rev. Walfried Rompe, O. F. M., and by Rev. Sabinus Mollitor in 1899. Lindsay was growing, however, and soon needed more frequent service.
REV. ALBERT BRUESERMANN,
O. F. M.,
Hence Fr. Albert Bruesermann, O. F. M., was sent to St. Bernard in 1900, to assume pastoral care of St. John's, Shell Creek and St. Francis de Sales, with the express order to reorganize the latter parish. He was told the parish numbered about fifty families; thirty-five Bohemian, ten Irish and five German families.
Only eight children and four adults attended the first Mass at Fr. Albert's first visit.
The new pastor bought a church bell, which was placed in position on the eve of New Year's day, in 1901. At midnight the pastor himself rang out his message: "Come to Mass again and listen to the word of God." And back they came, one after the other; even some non-Catholics became attendants. The priest visited Schoolcraft now twice a month in every kind of weather and never missed a Sunday in ten years. Twice Fr. Albert was offered a change; but he wished to remain until all was well again.
In 1902 the pastor purchased a fine, fleet span of ponies, "Birdie and Flossie," for $125 from Joe Albracht and drove many a mile in quest of lukewarm sheep, as far as the vicinity of Tilden, enjoying the generous hospitality of the O'Brien family. In 1905, Fr. Albert engaged the Rev. Joseph Drbal to preach a mission in the Bohemian language. The good Bohemian Benedictine Fathers, of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois, furnished divers kind of literature for the Schoolcraft parishioners. In 1908 Rev. Broz, of Dodge, Nebraska, preached a Triduum. When Fr. Albert, in 1910, left Nebraska for Teutopolis, Illinois, practically every family of the congregation was attending church again.
REMODELLING AND DECORATING THE CHURCH, ETC.
In January, 1906, Fr. Albert was detained at Schoolcraft by a blizzard. On this occasion he planned the enlarging and remodeling of a church. Heretofore, the priests's quarters was a small room, 8x12 feet, partitioned off behind the altar. A pentagonal sanctuary was added to the original structure, 24x45 feet, making it about 24x60 or more feet. A room was added on the side to serve as office and bedroom for the priest. The church was painted, the pews revarnished, the sanctuary decorated by the pastor himself, a new communion rail, a gift of Mrs. Killian Ottis, and a new high altar, a gift of Mr. Jacob Weidner, ordered from Hackner, in LaCross, Wisconsin, were installed. The altar made by Me. J. Druppel was sold to Rev. Hildebrand Fuchs for use in the basement church at Madison. The people who had at first opposed the improvement because of the cost, estimated at $400, donated about $380 in cash on the day of the first service after completion (6 weeks later). A carpenter of St. Bernard did the remodeling work.
The total cost of all the above improvements must have been $1,500 to $2,000. The people of Schoolcraft, including Mr. Mueck, drove 18 teams strong to Lindsay to haul the necessary material. The remodeled church was a cause of congratulation among the people and many friends of the pastor, including Count John A. Creighton, of Omaha, who gave $150, contributed, and with a festival held soon after, netting $400 to $500, paid for the improvements.
The pastor also erected a barn for twelve teams, probably 24x60 feet, to offer shelter to teams of the parishioners during the inclement season. A sum of $120 had been collected for the purpose.
St. Francis de Sales has no Catholic cemetery, probably because there was already a well kept cemetery for all Bohemians in the vicinity.
There existed also a dance hall nearby. As the pastor worked against it as a detriment to the spiritual well-being of his sheep, he came back one day to find that his parishioners had cut the hall in two, sold the parts to two men and had reimbursed the contributors from the proceeds.
FATHER ALBERT'S SUCCESSORS
Fahter (sic) Albert answered a call of obedience, which took him elsewhere, in 1910. During the ten years he drew a total salary of $300.
Rev. Francis Steck, O. F. M., the noted author of The Louis Jolliet and Pere J. Marquette Expedition, was pastor of Schoolcraft and St. John's for about a year, when he was appointed professor at "Old St. Joseph's College," Teutopolis, Illinois.
Rev. James de Marchia Meyer, O. F. M., 1912 and 1913, labored most zealously in behalf of the Bohemians, applied himself to the study of their difficult language and invited a Bohemian priest to preach another mission. He was succeeded by the Rev. Leo Zettel, O. F. M., the Rev. John Nepomucene Turek, O. F. M., himself a Bohemian, and Rev. Peter Canisius Bartko. The team and buggy were sold and a Ford car purchased in 1917. Rev. Othmar Berthieaume was in charge for six years, 1920 to August, 1926. During his pastorate a Bohemian missionary from Europe preached a mission to his countrymen at Schoolcraft.
Rev. B. Teves temporarily administered the missions of St. John's and St. Francis de Sales while Fr. Othmar took care of Petersburg. A secular priest was appointed to the care of the two missions, but the Franciscans had to resume charge almost immediately. The last Franciscan pastors were: Rev. Max Klotzbucher, August, 1926 to June, 1927; Rev. Erwin Huntscha, O. F. M., June, 1927 to January 4, 1929; Rev. Ludger Wegemer, January, 1929 to Easter, 1931; Rev. Anthony Wagner, since Easter, 1931.