Holy Ghost Parish in Omaha celebrates 100 years of faith

A hundred years ago a parish was established near the southwest edge of Omaha.
Omaha’s stockyards were booming, and employees and their families were filling up homes near what is now 52nd and Q streets.
The families worked hard and raised money to build a school and church. They prayed and laughed together and developed a devotion grounded in the Augustinian faith of the parish’s first priests. 
The parish was named Holy Ghost. And throughout its history faithful, hard-working people have continued to build and renovate church structures to meet the needs of the time and shape the parish’s faith.
Now, during its centennial year, Holy Ghost is commemorating its roots – never forgetting the contributions of past generations – and looking to the future, said Deacon Tom Schulte, a parishioner for 55 years.
Bits of parish history have been included in weekly church bulletins and are being gathered into a book. Members are deepening their spirituality through study groups that explore the Catholic faith. Celebrations have been planned, especially for Holy Ghost’s big day, Pentecost, on May 20, when among other events Archbishop George J. Lucas will be the main celebrant at the 10 a.m. Mass.
Ellie Morley, a lifelong parishioner whose parents moved into the Holy Ghost neighborhood in 1949, said that when she walks into the current church building – built in the early 1950s with parishioners helping to lay block and pour cement – she remembers all those who have contributed to the parish, including its earliest members. 
“They’re all still here,” Morley said. “The legacy they gave to us is amazing. They built their dream, and now their dream continues. That’s why we’re so committed to making this centennial special.”
Deacon Schulte said the parish has its “own communion of saints,” which includes those parishioners of bygone years who are still remembered at Masses and in prayer.
“We’re standing on their ground,” he said. “It was holy ground for them, and it’s holy ground for us now.”
That legacy of faith continues.
“We have a very dedicated core group of parishioners, who are very generous in giving their time and energy” and help keep the parish financially strong, said Father William Sanderson, pastor of Holy Ghost and St. Stanislaus Parish in Omaha.
They keep parish property in shape, help with liturgy and put on a host of parish fundraisers and events: Lenten fish fry dinners, a Thanksgiving dinner, a June Jamboree, sports tournaments, a mother-daughter event, Husker film nights and “Game On,” which Deacon Schulte describes as “trivia on steroids.”
Volunteering together forms a comaraderie, Morley said. And people join in without being asked. “There’s not a lot of arm twisting,” she said.
Father Sanderson has been part of two Holy Ghost eras. He was an associate pastor from 1986 to 1989, one of the first archdiocesan priests at the parish. He returned as pastor in 2015.
Augustinian Recollect Fathers staffed the church until the mid-1980s and are still fondly remembered, Deacon Schulte said, as are the Servants of Mary sisters who taught at the former Holy Ghost School from 1922 to 1984.
The parish currently lists about 1,200 members. But it’s re-registering parishioners as part of its centennial. 
In January, Father Sanderson officially proclaimed the dates for the church year’s moveable feasts, including Easter, Pentecost and Epiphany, setting the tone for the centennial year, Morley said. The people of the parish were blessed, as was a special church banner.
Centennial events continue with the June Jamboree, on June 3, and go through 2018 – ending with a New Year’s Eve toast to the future.
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