The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, formerly known as Wilson Church, near Schuyler, will be demolished in the coming weeks, said Cemetery Board Secretary David Jedlicka.
The original church was established in 1883 by Czech and German Immigrants, he added, with the current building built in 1918.
“Think of all the weddings and the funerals and just all the activities that went on in these 100 years,” Jedlicka said.
One of those weddings was between Catherine Novacek and her husband, who died in 2011.
“I was baptized there … received my first communion there, my confirmation and my husband and I got married there in November of 1954," Novacek said.
That was the end of her being a member of the church, but she said she came back for an annual celebration.
“In those days, the wedding took place at 9 in the morning. Then you had a dinner at 4, immediate family,” Novacek added. “Then you had Schuyler for pictures, and then you came back and had a reception, and then we had a wedding dance at the Oak Ballroom in Schuyler.”
She went out there to the site of the church in mid-December.
All the memories of marching down the aisle came back to her, she said. She remembered a former priest and a lot of choir practices and funerals.
“I walked through the cemetery grounds and saw those old, old stones from the 1880s,” she said.
Novacek’s mother, who also passed away in the early 2000s, kept clippings on the church in her scrapbooks, she said.
Preparations for dinners took several weeks, she noted.
“In the afternoon, (there was) a polka dance and later evening, another dance,” Novacek told the Sun, based on her mother’s scrapbooks. “Everyone with tired feet danced the evening away. Children sliding across the dance floor, later sleeping on benches alongside of the hall or on the stage.”
Despite all the memories, the priest from Schuyler decided in 1977 to no longer serve the parish, so there were no longer weekly masses. An annual evening mass was held on memorial day, she said.
In 1982, it was placed on the national register of historical places. In 1999, a tornado damaged the church, and it could no longer be utilized.
The church is now in disrepair, Jedlicka said.
“There has been vandalism at these grounds over the years, anywhere from when … people came in and disassembled some pews and took them out … other things have (been) stolen from inside. Even the sign over the cemetery,” he said. “We can’t put money into a building that is going to be prone to vandalism. … Since 1999, the building has deteriorated.”
It’s time for the building to come down, he noted.
“As much as we hate to do it, I’ve got great-grandparents buried in the cemetery,” Jedlicka said. “It’d be nice to keep the church, but just for common sense reasons, it’s (got to) to be taken down.”
A demolition crew will come in in the next few weeks. There is no set date as of Dec. 21.
“It’s going to be a sad day in the neighborhood,” he said. “But nothing lives forever. Nothing lasts forever.”
Carolyn Komatsoulis is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at email@example.com.