Sacred heart, wynot

The wood-frame church has stood for 100 years in Wynot, serving countless numbers of faith-filled parishioners from area farms and businesses, and that legacy was celebrated June 28 at a centennial Mass and dinner with Archbishop George J. Lucas.

"It’s been my lifetime guard," said Louis Hans, 94, a retired farmer who grew up in the shadow of Sacred Heart Church and with his late wife, Clara, raised seven children there. "It’s always been something I looked up to. My faith, the community and my church."

"I’ve got so much to be thankful for," he said.

Many other parishioners feel the same way – about God’s grace and gifts through the church, its importance to their families and the community, said Father Eric Olsen, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Cedar County, which includes Sacred Heart Church, Immaculate Conception Church in St. Helena and Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Bow Valley.

"These are people who put faith first in their lives," Father Olsen said of the 300 parishioners of Sacred Heart, and the more than 900 in the parish as a whole. "Grounded in agriculture, they understand all their gifts flow from God, and have done so for 100 years."

And members of Sacred Heart Church show their faith in many ways, including praying during 12-hour adoration of the Eucharist every Thursday, putting together parish breakfast fundraisers each fall and spring and delivering fruit baskets at Christmas to the homebound and a retirement center in Hartington, he said.

Sacred Heart Church, which seats about 250 people, was first built to serve the mostly German, farming community of Wynot, which was founded in 1907. John and Theresia Arens donated land for the parish church, a rectory, school and cemetery.

Even at its inception, Sacred Heart shared a priest with Ss. Philip and James Parish in St. James, and the two parishes retained close ties for decades, until the archdiocese closed Ss. Philip and James in 2000 and formed Holy Family Parish.

A strong sense of cooperation continues as Holy Family coordinates and shares Mass times, ministries and administration among the three sites, said Judy Verschoor, parish secretary.

In 1915, Sacred Heart parishioners built a one-room school and later added a room. The school closed in 1937 but reopened in the early 1940s before closing a final time as a Catholic school in 1955.

The building was torn down in 1986, and in 2001 parishioners built a parish center with seating for more than 300 people.

And that is where about 250 parishioners from all three church sites and other guests will gather after Mass for a catered dinner to continue Sacred Heart’s centennial celebration, said Cheryl Pinkelman, a member of the parish for 45 years who chaired the eight-member centennial committee.

"It’s a way for the community to come together and share our faith," she said.

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