SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH

Sacred Heart parish had its earliest beginnings in the year 1919. It was then that Ireneus Jarka offered Mass for the first time in the home of Mr. George Cronkleton. At that Mass little Dority Elizabeth King was baptized. Father Jarka lived in Bridgeport. There were thirty-eight people present for that first Mass.

Mass continued to be offered on the first Saturday until January 1920. Father Joseph Hinzman succeeded Father Jarka, and he was followed by Father Carl Hollie in the year 1920. Father Hollie offered Mass in the upstairs of the old Ford Garage.

In the same year, the present Church was begun. This frame structure is in the northwest part of town. There were fourteen missions or stations attached to Sacred Heart at that time: Oshkosh, Lisco, Bridgeport, Angora, Melbeta, Minatare, Mitchell, Lyman, Morrill, Henry, McGrew, and the present day Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The Church was completed in 1921. A home across from the Church was rented for use as a rectory.

Father Hollie was transferred in 1921. Sacred Heart Parish was taken care of by priests stationed in Scottsbluff. Some of these were: Fathers Nicholas Thees, James Fullam, Michael Mcdaid, Daniel Devine, C.Y. Monahan, L.J. Schneider, Houlihan, Lawrence Portrey, Matthew Koshiba, and Joseph Hartgarten.

It was October of 1947 that Bishop Edward Hunkeler re-established Sacred Heart Church as a parish, with Father Thomas Cooney as administrator. In May of 1948, Father Vincent Pelster took up his duties as pastor of Sacred Heart. During his tenure of office, the present rectory was built. Following Father Pelster, Father Cletus Semper became the next pastor of Sacred Heart in July of 1955, with the mission of Saint Mary's in Minatare, Nebraska.

Succeeding Father Semper was Father Robert Warner. Father James Kremeier was appointed as pastor in January of 1960. In the years following, priests the parish were Fathers Robert Krystosek, Robert Chamberlain, John Dennett, Father Ray Kosmiski, Father James Murphy, Bernard Berger, and John Schlaf. In July of 1982, Father Max E. Valdez was appointed pastor serving until his retirement in July of 1993.

Sacred Heart is now served by Father C.P. Varghese from Bridgeport.

- Submitted by: Lenore Marquez

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