FARNAM (SNR) – St. Joseph Parish in Farnam celebrated its 100th anniversary last month with Mass celebrated by Bishop James Conley.
The first Mass in Farnam was celebrated June 20, 1887, by Father Burke of Plum Creek. The following year, priests from Minden began visiting Farnam, traveling 72 miles every two months. The priest would come by train and stop at different towns from Holdrege to Grant where a few Catholics could attend Mass in local homes.
The community was served from priests in Elsie and later, Plum Creek, and decided to build their own church in 1916. After delays related to weather and a shortage of materials during World War I, it was finally finished and dedicated in 1917.
Bishop J. Henry Tihen dedicated the new church in honor of St. Joseph May 28, 1917. He traveled to Farnam by train with several priests, and a choir from St. Cecilia Parish in Hastings provided music.
“In spite of tremendous hardships, our pioneer forefathers and the early priests brought a deep faith, and through the many sacrifices of our small membership, we have maintained this gift for Farnam and the community,” said pastor Father Harlan D.P. Waskowiak. “They gave great glory to God by establishing the parish with its beautiful stained glass windows and building the Church, the Body of Christ. May we keep them in our memory as we continue to build on their faith and pass it on for the generations yet to come.”
Because the parish has always been small – currently including a dozen families – Father Waskowiak said the members have made many sacrifices to keep their church. He also recounted many gifts the parish has received through the years – a donation toward the 1952 interior renovation from John and Helen Klein of McCook, and an organ given by the Whistler family of Eustis. In 1953, the Catholic Church Extension Society contributed $1,000 to help defray the cost of needed repairs to the foundation and the roof of the church.
The Vernon Brouillette family donated the new altar when renovations were made in the sanctuary after Vatican II.
In preparation for the centennial, a new steeple was built in 2015 by students of Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, using a design taken from a drawing by Mrs. Ann Farr of the original steeple, which was removed more than 60 years ago. Stan Farr hauled the steeple and cross to Farnam, Mario Felix did the necessary preparation to the existing tower, and Paulson Construction provided a crane to position the steeple into place.
“Having sustained this small place of worship is truly a reason to celebrate our community of faith,” Father Waskowiak said. “We must take this occasion to thank God for His countless blessings and to always seek the life in imitation of our patron, St. Joseph, the beloved spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of our Savior Jesus Christ, as he continues to intercede on behalf of our parish and community.”