St. Gabriels Catholic
Located on the north edge of town, the cross on St. Gabriel's high steeple is visible to area travelers on both paved and country roads. The church has enjoyed a strong tradition of serving families in the Hazard and Litchfield area since the early 1930s. The Parish has seen expansion and remodeling throughout the decades and its Golden Jubilee was celebrated on Sunday, October 7, 1984 with Bishop Lawrence J. McNamara residing over the Mass of Thanksgiving. At present, Fr. Lou Nollette serves the parish.
History of St. Gabriel's Catholic Church
Article written by Faye Wendt
Work began on St. Gabriels Catholic church in the fall of 1934 after lots were purchased from Myers & Della Peterson at the cost of $45. The three trustees for the parish were John Jurkiewicz, Michael Cronin and Peter Kwiaatkowski. Times were very hard, and much of the work was done by the parishioners. Two carpenters were employed for a short time and some members of St. Josaphats in Loup City helped. The original altar and the pews were built by the Stobbe family. Stanley Klatka made the Stations of the Cross. Father Paul Moser was the first pastor and administrator of the church.
The church was completed and dedicated on October 22, 1935. Mass was Saturday at 10:30 followed by a carry-in dinner and a dance in the evening.
John Jurkiewicz died on April 8, 1935 and his funeral was held in the church on April 11. This was before the church was dedicated.
The first wedding held at St. Gabriels was that of Hattie Kosmicki and Henry Kwiaatkowski on February 8, 1937. The next wedding was that of Adeline Jurkiewica and Walter Rasmussen on October 5, 1937. Adeline is still a member of the church today. Larry Lorchick was the first baby baptized in the new church on January 10, 1937.
Father Stanley Gorak was appointed pastor in February of 1940. Following the funeral of Michael Cronin on January 19, 1943 the interior of the church was damaged by a fire. The church had been fueled with wood and coal. Extensive smoke damage occurred and the altar had to be replaced as the statue of the patron Saint Gabriel was damaged. The pews were also redone. The parishioners did much of the work themselves and were able to retain enough of the insurance money to pay off the mortgage on May 1, 1943.
Father Gorak served the parish for four years and was followed by Rev. C.J. Shumski, Rev. Joseph Hargarten, Rev. James McSweeney, Rev. Jan Smutny, Rev. Andrew Gonda, Rev Harry Kurtenbach, and Rev. Loren Pohlmeier.
St. Gabriels has been remodeled several times and has been the scene of many activities. We are indeed proud of our church community as it serves some forty families. We hope it will be here for many years to come.
Rev. Robert E. Weist, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Weist was born and raised in Hazard. He celebrated his 25th Anniversary of his ordination at St. Gabriels Parish. Father Weist has died, but there was much pride in his accomplishments.