St. William Church in Wellfleet was constructed in 1927
WELLFLEET (SNR) – St. William Parish in Wellfleet celebrated 90 years of faith and worship Nov. 4, with Mass followed by a brisket supper served by the parish Altar Society.
The first Mass in the area was celebrated in 1900 at the home of Charles Durbin, who lived about two miles east of Wellfleet. Mass was celebrated in members’ homes usually only once a month. From 1913 through 1916, Mass was celebrated in I.S. Gaudrealt’s Gaudrealt Cast Dept. Store, and on the second floor of Charles Sander’s grocery store.
During this era, priests came to serve Catholics in the area by train, traveling from Holdrege and Curtis.
In a letter to Bishop J. Henry Tihen, the second Bishop of Lincoln who served from 1911-1917, Gaudrealt thanked him for sending Father McAuliffe.
“He preaches at night every time he comes,” he wrote, “and we have great crowds, including many Protestants.”
The brick church was built in 1927 at a cost of $7,000, under the direction of Father Joseph Maichler. Parishioners and the community helped with the construction.
A bell was added in 1938, and the first stations of the cross in 1948. The current stations were hand-painted by a past parishioner, Michele Hughes. The interior was repainted in 2001. Other improvements over the years include new altar statues, and an improved back entrance. In the social hall, tables and chairs, an electric range, a new refrigerator and new curtains have been given in memory of parishioners when they died.
“We are very proud of our beautiful little church,” said parishioner Nancy Schmitz.
St. William Parish, a mission to St. James in Curtis, currently serves 16 families, under the direction of Father Harlan Waskowiak.