St. Vincent de Paul Parish turns 25
In 25 years, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha has grown to serve more than 10,000 Catholics, have the largest grade school enrollment in the archdiocese and one of the most extensive adult formation programs in the city.
Those are just some of the facts highlighted by Father Dan Kampschneider, one of only two pastors to have served the parish.
This year, parishioners are celebrating that vibrancy and journey of faith at the northwest Omaha church, as well as "Moving Towards the Future," the parish’s 25th anniversary slogan. A special Mass with Archbishop George J. Lucas and a reception were held June 26.
People are generous in their financial support, involvement in parish activities and help to the community, "continually responding to the needs of others in the spirit of our parish patron, St. Vincent de Paul," said Father Kampschneider, pastor since 2004.
For example, more than 300 parishioners are involved in the parish’s perpetual adoration of the Eucharist, begun last year, more than 500 students are in parish religious education and there is an active youth program, Father Kampschneider said.
Longtime parishioner Sheri Muckey, the parish’s first secretary, said people see the parish as God’s home.
"They all inspire me to be more and do more," Muckey said. "Some of my dearest, lifelong friends are members of the parish."
The parish formed June 1, 1991, with people from St. Leo the Great and St. Wenceslaus parishes in Omaha and Immaculate Conception Parish at Boys Town.
Father Dennis Hanneman, founding pastor and now pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bellevue, said many gifted, talented people were involved.
"There was a wonderful spirit of enthusiasm and cooperation," Father Hanneman said. "At first, all we had were dreams of what might be – with God’s grace. In the years ahead, we were able to see our vision gradually becoming a reality."
Father Hanneman celebrated St. Vincent de Paul’s first weekend Mass – with about 250 people – at Ezra Millard Elementary School. As membership grew, Masses were held at Boys Town Music Hall, the parish school and finally in the newly built church, dedicated in 1998.
The school opened in February 1994 for kindergarten through third grade – after students in those grades spent the first several months of that school year in classrooms at V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha.
Today, the school serves 880 preschool through eighth-grade students. It received the U.S. Department of Education-sponsored Blue Ribbon for Excellence Award in 2004.
And the parish is looking to the next 25 years and beyond, Father Kampschneider said, among other things studying the feasibility of a parish center that could provide more space for activities and programs. It’s also the last major facility on the original 1992 Parish Master Plan.
"We want to strengthen current programs and consider future ways we can serve our parish family, the greater archdiocesan family and the Omaha community," Father Kampschneider said.