BEAVER CROSSING (SNR) – Sacred Heart Parish in Beaver Crossing will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the parish Nov. 14.
Bishop James Conley will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving at 5 p.m. Invited guests will join parishioners in giving thanks to God for 125 years of grace and blessings in the community. A meal will follow the Mass and a short program.
Catholic settlers in the area traveled great distances to attend Mass. Around 1890 a group of pioneers decided they were capable of building and maintaining their own parish church.
John Geis and Lawrence Geiger were appointed representatives to travel to Lincoln to seek permission of Bishop Thomas Bonacum for the project. Bishop Bonacum granted their request and designated Father James Simeon of Exeter as supervisor of the construction.
Father Simeon presided at a meeting of area Catholics March 25, 1890. Eighteen families of German and Irish backgrounds were represented and a building committee was appointed.
The parish purchased three lots of land for $300 and a fourth lot was donated by Pioneer Land Company. A 50-by-32-foot building was erected and dedicated by Bishop Bonacum Nov. 17, 1890.
Father Simeon served the parish from Exeter until his return to Switzerland in 1895. Father William Crowe then served the parish from Friend until Sacred Heart Parish was made a mission of Utica with Father A. Hochmuller as pastor. In following years the parish undertook the construction of a rectory and cemetery. A bell – used in liturgical rituals as well as for communications – was added in 1912. John and Lena Geis donated the materials and labor for the Geis Memorial Tower, and it was blessed by Bishop Henry Tihen Nov. 7, 1912. Other projects throughout the years included the construction of a new rectory in 1950, and the acquisition of an organ.
The church built in 1890 was replaced in 1974, on a site south of the original church. The building committee included Richard Coffey, Adeline Geis, Paul Geis, Mary Heser, Richard Pariset, Margie Rotter and Paul Schmit.
Ground-breaking for the new church was held April 28, 1974. A new bell tower was constructed and the bell from 1912 , redesigned with an electronic device, was hoisted into the new tower. The round window from the original church, depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was also moved to the new church. It was dedicated Jan. 1, 1975.
The current church was renovated in 2012 under the direction of Father Jamie Hotovy with Gene and Char Kriz, and blessed Nov. 4, 2012.
On Mothers Day 2014, May 11, a tornado struck the area and did extensive damage to the church, rectory and parish grounds. Parishioners traveled to the mission parish, St. Patrick in Utica, and other area churches for six weeks while the church was refurbished.