Randolph parish to celebrate 125 years

A long history and ongoing vitality.

Those two things will be highlighted in the 125th anniversary celebration of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish in Randolph Aug. 19 and 20 as current and former parishioners gather with Archbishop George J. Lucas, parish school graduate Bishop Emeritus William J. Dendinger of Grand Island and others.

"It’s very important for our family of faith to reflect on where we’ve been," said Father Timothy Forgét, pastor of St. Jane Frances and of St. Mary of the Seven Dolors Parish in Osmond. "In some ways it strengthens your faith in where we’re going."

People will have numerous opportunities to celebrate, including a 5K run/walk, barbeque, talent show, dance and fireworks the first day, and an Aug. 20 Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lucas and Bishop Dendinger. A dinner will be held after the Mass.

And Father David Korth, who grew up in Randolph and is now pastor of Sacred Heart Parish and CEO of Christian Urban Education Services (CUES), both in Omaha, will celebrate his 25th anniversary as a priest with a reception Aug. 20.

The founding in 1892 of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Parish came six years after families from Iowa, Illinois and Indiana established the town of Randolph. The first Mass was celebrated on Easter Sunday in the parish’s original church, which was expanded a few years later.

A school was built in 1899, operated by the School Sisters of St. Francis of Milwaukee. It, too, was later expanded to meet the needs of the growing parish, and eventually was replaced by a larger school building. The school closed in 1970.

Ground was broken for the current church in 1917, and the first Mass was celebrated June 30, 1918.

The family roots of many parishioners date to those early days, including Ruth Carstens, whose grandparents helped establish the parish. "I am so happy to carry on their legacy," she said.

Ruth and her husband, Dean, married 59 years, are lifetime parishioners and have been active in the parish through the years – Dean as an usher and with the Knights of Columbus, and Ruth as organist, religious education teacher and member of the liturgy committee.

She said she looks forward to seeing many familiar faces at the celebration, including former parishioners who have moved away.

Rosalee and Joseph Nordhues also have been married 59 years and are lifetime parish members with deep ties – Joseph’s father helped dig the current church’s basement, Rosalee said.

Both attended the school and have been involved in numerous parish ministries and activities, including serving on the parish council.

Rosalee also has been a religious education teacher, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, and participated in eucharistic adoration and funeral luncheons, and Joseph served as an usher during Masses and is a member of the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Order of Foresters.

The parish of 650 people, including 280 families, continues to attract new members as well.

Collin Swantek and his wife, Kristina, whose parents are parishioners, moved to Randolph earlier this summer and already are involved in the parish, including Collin’s recent election to the parish council.

"The community is really tight-knit" and very personable, Collin said. "They really want to keep growing in the faith, and they’re always looking to be active in the church."

Rosalee Nordhue said she is grateful for the volunteers who continue to give their time and talent to "keep the faith alive at St. Jane Frances de Chantal."

"Our church is a beautiful place. We have to keep our church going, stick together, be happy and celebrate well," she said.

Father Forgét said, "What we’re trying to do is stir up excitement around this celebration, and to build community. It’s their parish, so I’m excited to get them excited about where they are and where they’re going."

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