Omaha church community celebrates 100 years

Commemorating 100 years of faith, the community at St. Adalbert Church in Omaha capped its yearlong celebrations Sept. 10 with a Mass, celebrated by Archbishop George J. Lucas.

"Through its school, through the sacramental life of the church, through Sunday worship, generations have been touched by the Catholic faith through St. Adalbert," said Father John Pietramale, pastor of the now merged Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish.

The parishes merged in 2014 as part of an archdiocesan plan that included several mergers in east Omaha.

But people who called St. Adalbert home have fond memories of the priests who served at St. Adalbert and the Notre Dame Sisters who taught at the former school, Father Pietramale said.

For Mary Adams, the parish was central to life.

"Because we’ve always been a very tight-knit parish, we’re sort of like extended family and our lives have always revolved around the parish."

"We have very strong family ties," said Adams, whose grandfather, John Kotrba, was among the 40 families who petitioned Bishop Jeremiah Harty to form the parish in 1916.

Centennial celebrations began with a Sept. 5, 2015, Mass honoring the Notre Dame Sisters, the order of nuns who taught in the school. As an expression of gratitude, a second collection during Mass raised $786 for the order’s retirement fund.

And Jesuit Father John Montag, who grew up in the parish, celebrated Mass commemorating the feast of St. Adalbert, April 23. After Mass, the St. Adalbert community enjoyed dinner at the Bohemian Café, Father Pietramale said.

St. Adalbert was established as a "national parish" – one without geographic boundaries but within Our Lady of Lourdes’ boundaries – to serve the Czech population of Omaha. "It was a part of the South Omaha melting pot," he said.

Although a Czech presence continues, Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish is in transition as it experiences a growing Hispanic population, he said. St. Adalbert Church also provides a home to the St. Andrew Kim Taegon Catholic Korean community.

"We’ve merged these faith communities together with potlucks, Christmas celebrations and other events," said Father Pietramale.

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish had a rich tradition of celebrating the feast of its patron, so as a combined parish it now celebrates both patron’s feasts, he said.

Mass continues to be offered at St. Adalbert Church, and it provides additional facilities to accommodate faith formation programs and other parish activities.

At one time, St. Adalbert facilities included a parish hall, an elementary school, a convent and a rectory.

Today, the rectory remains and is used by Father Paul Oh, who serves the Korean community, and Father Carl Sodoro, a chaplain at Alegent Health Bergan Mercy Medical Center.

Despite changes over the years, many in the St. Adalbert community feel a sense of loyalty.

Adams, who has been a member of the Ladies Guild and served at funeral luncheons, still attends Mass at St. Adalbert, where she is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and counts the Sunday collection (a job handed on to her by her father).

"This parish has meant a lot to my entire family," she said.

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