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Omaha parish marks silver anniversary


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Omaha, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, was formed to accomodate the growing number of parishioners at the nearby St. James Parish. Photo by Dorothy Tuma

By LISA SCHULTE
The Catholic Voice

Nearly 200 people gathered at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church last month to mark the Omaha parish's 25th anniversary. A Mass with Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss on June 4 was followed by a reception dinner at the parish center.

Father Joseph Hanefeldt, the church's fourth pastor, said his favorite part of the celebration was being joined on the altar by six of the parish's seven permanent deacons.

'They are such a part of our parish and such a gift to us all," he said.

The celebration also launched the start of the Stephen Ministry at the parish. The ministry is a training and organization program of lay people to provide one-to-one care to hurting people.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish was formed in 1981 as the nearby St. James Parish was growing and space was needed to accommodate the growing numbers. The school of St. James was shared by both parishes and was renamed St. James/Seton School.

Father Thomas McDermott, who died of cancer in 1990, was named the first pastor.

Daily Mass was first held at Father McDermott's apartment and then at the rectory on Grande Avenue. The parish's first Mass was held at the Greek Orthodox Church on Boyd Street. After that, Sunday Masses were celebrated at the Sunny Slope School Gym.

On Sept. 16, 1984, Archbishop Daniel E. Sheehan presided at the dedication Mass for the new St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. The parish served 863 families at that time.

Father Anthony Petrusic became the second pastor in 1988 and was instrumental in helping the parish raise funds. His idea of a $10,000 Grand Lottery and an all parish free picnic has helped with the finances over the years.

Father Anthony Tresnak was named pastor in 1990. He was instrumental in helping the parish fund classrooms and in creating a kindergarten at St. James/Seton School.

Father Tresnak also brought the Life Teen Program to the parish in 1992.

In 1995, Father Hanefeldt began his assignment as pastor and he has continued to spend 11 of his 22 years of priesthood at the parish. Since 1998, a new parish center and rectory have been built. In 2004, renovations on the church were done and Archbishop Curtiss celebrated the consecration of a new altar.

Currently there are more than 1,525 families registered at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, with nearly 770 students enrolled in St. James/Seton School.

The people of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton are people of faith who are seeking to grow spiritually, Father Hanefeldt said.

'It's fun to serve these people because they are eager to continue in their faith, to grow, to come closer to the Lord."

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