ALL SOULS CATHOLIC CHURCH

All Souls Catholic Church, Bridgeport, Morill County, was created a parish in 1919. Up to that time it had been attached to Sidney or Scottsbluff and was attended from either of these two cities. A priest was resident in Bridgeport from 1919 to 1931 when All Souls Parish became a mission of Dalton.

Before the present town of Bridgeport was thought of, priests came into the North Platte valley to minister to the hardy pioneers. Eucharist was celebrated about once or twice year on week days, usually in the home of Peter Wade, who was one of the early settlers and lived then on a homestead south of town. About this time priests came from Sidney at stated intervals to celebrate Eucahrist for the scattered Catholic families in and around Bridgeport. As Catholics became numerous, Bridgeport was attached to Sidney as a mission. In 1912, when Scottsbluff was made a mission of Dalton, the latter being made a parish in 1917.

Before parish of All Souls was created by Bishop Duffy in July of 1919. The parish compromised nearly all of Morrill County. The parishioners of Bridgeport and Dalton have been combined since Dec. 11, 1931.

Records do not show when the church was built, but it must have been in 1916 for the first recorded baptism was that of Sylvester John Kloch on Dec. 25, 1916. The first marriage in All Souls was that of Albert Joseph Tyteca and Rachel May Paxton on June 23, 1917. The first funeral was for Michael Dunn Dec. 17, 1917. The priest in each instances was Father M. L. Ballou, the first resident pastor of Dalton, who also took care of Bridgeport at the time.

On July 1, 1919 Father Iranaeus Jarka was appointed the first resident priest of Bridegeport, with Angora, Dalton and Bayad attached as missions. His diary entry Aug. 7, 1919 states that there was no rectory in Bridgeport, but he fixed sacrifices in Dalton for his living quarters. Father Jarka wrote several poignant entries in his diary such as taking to see Father Moloney in Scottsbluff, Eucharist at Bayard, and the first baptism in Bayard(her name in baptisim was Dority Elizabeth King).

Succeeding Father Jarka were Fr. Joseph Hinzman (Dec. 1910-21) Fr. Robert F. Maron, (1921-22), Fr. Francis J. Tschida(1922-27), Fr. James P. Fullam(1927-1953), Fr. Cletus Semper was appointed pastor of Dalton and Bridgeport on July 1, 1955 and he resided in the rectory in Dalton. Father Jacob Bauer and Fr. L. G. Lecher were some priests that were temporarily assigned. Fr. Ted Nickoliczak was named administrator of Bridgeport and Broadwater. June 12, 1964 to June 13, 1969, Fr. James Janovec, June 13, 1969 to September 20, 1973. Fr. Max Valdez, September 20, 1973 to July 1, 1982, Fr. Andrew Gonda, July 1, 1982 and Fr. Reginald (Reggie) Urban July 1, 1989. Father Reggie is the present priest and resides south of the church. Fr. Valdez was the priest instrumental in building the present church of brick and cement block in 1976. It seats 250 people. Mortgage burning was held at Fr. Gondas 40th ordination Anniversary, June 29, 1986. Fr. Reggie has facilitated plans and formulation of the new Parish Center. Ground breaking was March of 1994.

The old Parish Center was designated a Parish Center and Catechetical Center to accomodate the 75 children who regularly attended catechism classes. The Catechetical Center also served as the meeting place for the Catholica Ladies, Spiritual Enrichment for the youth, Bible study groups and almost all the social functions. The Ladies sponsor many fundraising activities throughout the year, take care of the needs of the church and serve dinners for bereaved families after each funeral. With the construction of the new Parish Center, we hope to expand and hold most of all the church's activities. The old parish center will be moved to another location by Jef Guerrero, and in its place will be a parking lot.
-Tonie Watso, Historian for All Souls Catholic Church July 25, 1994

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