HEARTWELL - Members of the Holy Family Parish Council are pictured after Sunday Mass in Heartwell Oct. 10. Pictured are (from left) Darcie Reed, Dean Schwenka, Pat Hoban and pastor Father Nicholas Baker. (Photo courtesy of Andy Raun, Hastings Tribune.)
HEARTWELL (SNR) - This Sunday, Oct, 17, will be a very special day at Holy Family Parish in Heartwell. Parishioners past and present will gather with Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz, Father Nicholas Baker and several former pastors to mark the 125th anniversary of the parish.
Holy Family Parish was formed in 1885 – well before the village itself was incorporated in 1913. Priests would ride over from Hastings, some 22 miles or so to the east, initially celebrating Mass in the home of one of the Heartwell residents.
In looking over early parish records, Father Baker speculates that most of the founding families of Holy Family parish were of Irish descent. At the time, Heartwell was quite the thriving community, and Holy Family was the thriving parish in the area.
“In a sense, it was the mother parish to Minden,” Father Baker said, referring to his other parish, just nine miles away.
Over time, however, Minden grew. Now, Holy Family is a mission to St. John Church in Minden.
These days, younger Heartwell residents are more apt to move to Minden for work, rather than the other way around. And older Heartwell couples sometimes retire to Minden because of the additional services found in the larger town.
All former parishioners have been invited to come back to Holy Family for the Oct. 17 celebration. The afternoon will begin with an open house gathering, held from 2 – 3:30 p.m. at the Heartwell Community Center.
“There will be cookies, coffees, photos to look at and time for people to catch up,” said Sara Joyce, secretary of the altar society and one of the parishioners who helped plan and organize the quasquicentenial.
At 4 p.m., Mass will begin at Holy Family Church with Bishop Bruskewitz serving as the main celebrant and homilist. After Mass, the parish will host a celebratory dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Hastings.
Pastor of the parish since 2006, Father Baker has been inspired by the enthusiasm of the Holy Family parishioners as they’ve planned the event.
“They’ve been preparing for over a year,” he said.
Among the activities, the parish had a pictorial directory made, added carpeting and spruced up the church and rectory with other minor repairs. In celebration of the church building’s recent 100th anniversary, the parish raised funds to have its two domes covered with gold leaf and sealed against the elements.
“It looks really attractive,” Father Baker said.
Because the current history book was a popular item during the parish’s centennial, three parishioners got together to create an addendum. Lenetta Kuehn, Andy Raun and his mother Eileen Raun added information and photos from the last 25 years. The updated book will be available for sale during the anniversary celebration.
Father Baker praised their efforts. The history book, he said, is unusual because it includes the history of parish families as well as the parish itself.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
The 125th anniversary planning committee – which includes Mrs. Joyce, Mrs. Kuehn, Sally Jurgensmier and Darcie Reed – also decided to have a Christmas ornament made as a memento. Featuring an etching of the church and the dates, it will be available for $10 during the celebration Oct. 17.
This teamwork and can-do enthusiasm are trademarks of Holy Family Parish. The younger members work with the older members as a fine-tuned team.
“Everybody knows what everybody can do, and you know who to ask when you need something done,” Mrs. Joyce said.
Shortly after the 125th anniversary celebration, the parish will start planning for their annual fundraiser, which involves hosting a food stand and Christmas present wrapping service at Minden’s traditional day-after-Thanksgiving festival. The parish also contributes to a winter coat drive and supports the area Food Bank.
“As we became more aware of the needs of the community, we wanted to help out,” Mrs. Joyce said. “We just wanted to do more.”
“I’m so grateful to them,” said Father Baker. “I hope this will be a shot in the arm for us, to spur us on to the future, so that whatever we have to do, we’ll do it with the same enthusiasm.”