By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
LIDDERDALE – “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall ever be in my mouth. Glorify the Lord with me. Let us together extoll his name,” said Bishop Walker Nickless, reciting the words of Psalm 34.
He said the words of the psalm sum up “the sentiments of our hearts and what we should feel today as we gather for this Eucharist to celebrate 100 years of Holy Family Parish here in Lidderdale.”
“For it was the Lord, not us and not those who preceded us, but what the Lord has been able to accomplish in the members of Holy Family Parish, past and present, that we give thanks to today,” said the bishop.
The 100th anniversary of the dedication of Holy Family was held on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Bishop Nickless celebrated the Mass. Concelebrating priests were Father Timothy Schott, pastor; Father Ed Tiedeman and Father Dale Reiff.
Three of those who processed into church were youth of the parish dressed up representing Father Joseph Kuemper, founder of the parish; and two Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton, the order that ran the parish school.
Reflecting on 100 years
“The Lord is the one who touched the hearts of the small group of people in 1914 when they approached the famous, infamous Father Joseph Kuemper and asked him to build the first parish structure here in Lidderdale,” said Bishop Nickless during the homily. “All they wanted was a small chapel and a school.”
He added that under the leadership of Father Kuemper, a two-story building was constructed. The second floor was a two-room classroom for a school and the first floor was the church.
“I hope you all take a few moments today to reflect on the gift of this 100 year-old community and the beginnings of Holy Family Parish,” said the bishop. “A lot has happened since 1914. The faith is strong here.
The priests, religious and laity who have and still serve you do so with generous hearts. You have continued the mission of Christ – to share the good news and enable the whole community to grow in faith and holiness.”
Through the intercession of the Holy Family - Joseph Mary and Jesus - and Sts. Peter and Paul, Bishop Nickless said, “I hope you can continue the work of faith, hope and love that began 100 years ago. May God continue to bless you and your families with abundant grace.”
Al and Eunice Ausman, who were married at Holy Family 62 years ago, and Vern and Phyllis Drees, who were married there 60 years ago, presented the gifts to Bishop Nickless.
Many members of the parish involved in the celebration are descendants of the original six committee members of Holy Family. There are families with fifth and sixth generations as parishioners.
At the conclusion of Mass, Father Schott offered thanks to Bishop for celebrating the Mass, to the choir, the lectors, the servers, the greeters, the gift bearers, concelebrants and the parish’s Rosary Society for their preparation for the celebration.
“I am pretty humbled because I am at the last of these 100 years,” said Father Schott, who has been pastor at Holy Family for five years. “I think of the hard work of the early pastors here when they had a school, when they had a convent and the responsibility of building them and staffing them and paying for them. My association is pretty simple compared to theirs.”
The rural parish, Father Schott said is a “self-reliant community of people. They take care of things. They don’t need a lot of supervision or direction.”
More than a year ago when planning started, the first thing done was finding a date when Bishop Nickless was available to attend. The bishop is the pastor of the diocese and “the people of the parish wanted him to come and celebrate the Mass,” said Father Schott.
“We have an advisory board here – combined finance council and pastoral council. They took a lot of the responsibility for the planning,” he said. “Pretty much on their own they got the church painted, got the carpeting clean and got everything ready for this. Some of the men had gravel hauled into the parking lot to make sure if it rained, it would be a good place to park.”
As attendees left the church, they received prayer cards and Holy Family magnets. The celebration continued in the parish hall with the centennial potluck dinner and viewing of parish memorabilia. Mugs and history books were available for purchase.
Margaret (Strunk) Wenck, the oldest parishioner at 95 years old, has been a member of Holy Family her entire life. She was baptized by Father Joseph Kuemper and received her other sacraments at Holy Family as well.
She and her husband were married there and her husband is buried in the parish cemetery.
“I never went to another church,” she said. “When the school started here, they took an old buggy and made a topper on it and they picked up four families.”
Wenck attended school there until seventh grade, which was staffed by the Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton.
“It is great to be here,” she said. “I thought it was great of him (the bishop) to be here.”
“I was very appreciative of the bishop’s comments about the parish,” she said.
As part of the planning committee, Lux helped with the decorations in the church and putting up the display of parish history in the parish hall.
A few special memories for her were going to the grade school for eight years, the nuns and receiving sacraments – baptism, first Communion and confirmation.
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