Tabor Church to Mark 150 Years | Community

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TABOR – Located on the highest point of Tabor, St. Wenceslas Catholic Church has long been associated with the first Czech settlers whose descendants still live there today.

The church, founded in 1871, will celebrate its 150th anniversary on Saturday with a mass and dinner.

Saint Wenceslas was named for the patron saint of Czechoslovakia, according to parishioner Dennis Povondra. He has compiled a complete history of the church from its origin to the present day.

The first Czech settlers founded the parish out of a desire for a better life while worshiping their faith and culture, Povondra said.

“St. Wenceslas Church was organized by people who learned that the way of life they had in the European country of Bohemia was not the one they wanted to continue living in,” he said. .

“They remembered that their continued faith in Jesus Christ must be kept alive and strong. People also wanted to create a future for their children and others belonging to St. Wenceslas Parish.

The parish has become particularly famous for celebrating Polka Mass during the annual celebration of Czech Days in June. Its site at the northern end of town includes the cemetery and the old parish school now serving as an elementary school for the Bon Homme school district.

Throughout its history, Saint Wenceslas has seen his sons and daughters become priests and nuns. The Rev. Charles Cimpl is the last living priest to come from the parish.

Cimpl is currently pastor at Holy Spirit Church in Sioux Falls. Until recently, he was pastor of St. Michael’s Church in Sioux Falls and Vicar General of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, which is a South Dakota compound east of the Missouri River.

Cimpl maintains its links with its community and its childhood parish.

“I go to Tabor periodically. My brother, Joe, lives in Tabor and my parents are buried in the Church cemetery, ”he said. “I had mass during the Czech Days and I came back occasionally for the Czech Days.”

Cimpl said he has fond memories of St. Wenceslas Church and School.

“During my elementary and secondary school years, the parish was served by the Benedictine priests from St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois, and the Benedictine sisters from the Sacred Heart Monastery of Yankton,” did he declare. “The parish has been fortunate to have such dedicated priests and sisters over the years. “

In particular, Cimpl remembers a momentous moment of the year growing up in Tabor and attending church.

“I remember the meticulous way the church was decorated at Christmas and the wait to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve to see the procession in the church and the beautiful decorations,” a- he declared. “The church was the center of spiritual and social activities in Tabor. It really was a great way to experience faith in my childhood.

Tabor takes its name from an area in Czechoslovakia, and the first settlers who arrived in Tabor between 1869 and 1870 made their faith a priority in the New Land, Povondra said.

The early pioneers met on Sundays, with parishioners reading the scriptures and leading services for the gathered faithful, Povondra said. At one of the services, members decided to purchase land for a church using the Homestead Act, guaranteeing 160 acres.

In 1872, the land was purchased for $ 200 and was divided into 53 lots, one for each inhabitant of the city. A lot has been reserved for a church, a lot for a cemetery and a lot for a school. As a cemetery had already been established with several graves, a curve in the street was created. As a result, the east and west sides of Yankton Street do not line up.

After leading the worship in the houses, Catholics were served by a missionary priest, Reverend Sulak, who spoke Czech. A Jesuit and a native of Silesia, he traveled to Czech parishes across the United States, doing missionary work without compensation.

In 1872, shortly after purchasing the town site, the Catholic community began building a limestone church. Parishioners transported the chalk rock by cart from the cliffs of the Missouri River to Tabor.

In the meantime, a log school was built for services until the chalk stone church was completed in 1874. The school, which used logs from the bottom of the Missouri River, serves today main building at the museum of the Czech Heritage Preservation Society.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Wenceslas in Tabor was officially incorporated in 1884. Reverend Emmanuel Anton Bouska served the parish for 48 years, from 1893 until his death in 1941.

In 1915, the parish organized the Sokol Catholic Unit to emphasize the physical and cultural development of boys and girls. The Sokol unit offered gymnastics training as well as a theater club that presented plays in the Czech language.

Saint Wenceslas was served by a number of priests, nuns and other members of religious orders. In 1996, Reverend Carlton Hermann was elevated to the rank of Monsignor by then-Bishop Robert Carlson.

The last two priests guided the parish through new challenges.

Reverend Anthony Urban served Saint Wenceslas from 2018 to 2020. The pandemic prevented him from celebrating Mass in the church, so he broadcast the Mass live from the parish house.

The current pastor, Reverend Mark Lichter, arrived in 2020 at a time of parish restriction to deal with priest shortages and demographic changes in the diocese. Besides Tabor, it serves parishes in Scotland, Lesterville and Idylwilde. The churches in Mayfield and Siegel have been closed and Tabor now celebrates a weekend mass on Saturday nights.

The next 150th anniversary will be celebrated with a mass at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. at Beseda Hall, Povondra said. The evening is an opportunity to honor the history of the church.

“It is very important for us to learn from our past, to remember our present and to create our future,” he said.

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