Aloys parish celebrates 125 years of faith
Members of St Aloysius Parish marked 125 years of faith and service at the Aloys area parish June 21, with Archbishop George J. Lucas and area priests celebrating a 6 p.m. Mass.
An outdoor Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary built near the church in 2009 was blessed after the Mass, followed by a picnic-style supper, games and music.
The celebration ended with a rosary by candlelight at the shrine.
About 125 people from 35 families belong to the parish, which was founded in 1891 at a strategic location for horse travel – between five and 12 miles from other pioneer Catholic parishes in the area, such as St. Boniface of Monterey, Sacred Heart of Olean and St. Mary in West Point.
"The vibrant faith of the people is always constant, strong and inspiring," said Father Steve Emanuel, pastor, who also serves St. Boniface, St. Mary and St. Anthony Parish in St. Charles Township, with help from senior associate pastor Father Frank Lordemann.
Father Frank Lordemann, associate pastor, said the people of Aloys have a "strong dedication and devotion to their God," and he enjoys serving and working with them.
Marius Baumert, 82, grew up in the parish, lives in the farmhouse in which he was born and can see the church less than a mile away from the front porch. He served as an altar boy, bicycled to school and joined the choir at age 15. He and his wife, Mary, baptized their six children there and he has participated in processions, devotions and other parish activities.
"My parish? It is my home," Baumert said. "It is my past, my present and my future."
Parishioners built a wood-frame church in 1891 and it doubled as a school, with folding church pews that served as desks. In 1913, a two-story St. Aloysius elementary school was constructed, and from 1960 until it closed in 1984 it served the Aloys and Monterey areas as Pebble Valley School. Now, the parish is part of Guardian Angels Central Catholic School in West Point.
Several people who attended the school went on to serve the church – including the late Bishop John Paschang, who served the Diocese of Grand Island from 1951 to 1972, and Father Norman Hunke, now pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna.
The current, brick church was built in 1930, and Mass is held there at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday, with after-Mass coffees in the rectory. Traditions in the parish also include Stations of the Cross during Lent, weekly rosaries at the shrine in May and October followed by socializing with root beer floats for a treat, and picnics with hay wagon rides.
The annual parish fundraiser is a pre-Christmas breakfast with a special "Aloys-brand" sausage and homemade rolls.
Jesuit Father Francis Turek, Msgr. Joseph Ruesing, Fathers Henry Hoheisel, Victor End, William Reybach, Joseph Roth, Daniel Reifenrath, Benedictine Father Walter Weismeier and Fathers Daniel Twohig, Louis Demers, Joseph Vitko, John Beacom, Msgr. Francis Schmitt and Fathers Stephen Gutgsell, Dennis DeGuzman, Jeff Zila, Mark Bridgman, Tim Podraza, Gerald Gonderinger, Steven Emanuel.