St. Agatha's Catholic Church

From Hope Through the Century - Hope, North Dakota 1882-1982, page 161

Fr. Majerus and Fr. Quinlan from Casselton visited Hope and found a number of Catholics of Irish, Dutch, and German descent. On May 22, 1892, the first Mass was offered by Fr. Majerus in the G.A.R. Hall. Father came to Hope regularly until 1896 at which time there were about 50 church members. Among the first laymen were Joseph Beckerjeck, M. B. Hanley, E. M. Fuller, and L. J. Fullmer.

In 1896, Fr. Quinlan of Casselton succeeded Fr. Majerus and continued to come to Hope regularly. In the summer of 1904 the home of Joseph Beckerjeck became the regular place of divine service. Church membership increased. Fr. Quinlan saw the need of a church and in 1906 Hope became a mission of Casselton and that summer the erection of a frame church was started by W. L. Mulligan of Charles City, Iowa, and was completed the following year at the cost of $5000.00. Liberal donations were made by many. Murray Brothers of Minnesota donated the large statue on the main altar and two stained windows. Henry Epping of Sheldon, donated the two side altars. The Kersting family donated the two statues for these altars.

In 1909 a rectory was constructed and Fr. Harte became the first resident pastor. The church grounds, eight lots, had been purchased by Fr. Quinlan for $700.00. St. Agatha's Church was dedicated June 7, 1907 by Bishop Shanley of Fargo, assisted by Fr. Quinlan.

Mr. James H. Harte served St. Agatha's as resident pastor from 1907-1922.

Fr. O'Brian 1922-1923.

Fr. Higgins 1923-1926,

Fr. Wiedman 1926-1936,

Fr. Hyle 1936-1938,

Fr. Touhy 1938-1939,

Fr. Nester 1939-1941,

Fr. Mehok 1941-1948,

Fr. J. L. Hylden 1948-1950,

Fr. James Hogan 1950-1955,

Fr. Duchscherer 1955-1962,

Fr. Vincent Tuchscher 1962-1970,

Msgr. V. Wiederholt 1970-1979, and

Fr. Gregory Patejko 1979-.

Fr. Hylden was the director of the Displaced Persons following World War II. He established Bible Study clubs in the parish and met with his people in their homes. He was very active in rural life and the family farm. The Sisters of Service of Canada provided catechism lessons for the school children. Aneta became a mission of Hope in 1907, and was served by the priests of St. Agatha's. Fr. Hylden found a number of Catholics in Finley who had difficulty getting to Hope or Aneta to attend Sunday Mass. With the help of his people in Finley who set up an altar in the city hall, Father offered the first mass December 1948, and continued to offer Sunday Mass, followed by Fr. Hogan, under whose leadership St. Olaf s church was built in Finley and dedicated July 9, 1952.

Fr. Hogan organized the men's choir with Mrs. John Werren as organist. This choir continues now under the leadership of Mrs. Harold Zerface.

The parish of St. Agatha's continued to grow and the church built in 1907 was becoming too small. Plans were started toward a larger church. The men's clubs and ladies guilds had many fund raising projects for a new church. The Catholic extension society was a generous benefactor. Under the leadership of Fr. Duchscher a new church was started in the fall of 1958 and completed the next spring.

The first mass was offered on Easter Sunday and the church was dedicated by Bishop Leo F. Dworschak on June 11,1959.

The Sisters of Service continued to provide catechism lessons for the children, while the Sisters of Presentation of Fargo provided two weeks of catechism during the summer months.

Under the leadership of Fr. Vincent Tuchscher (1962-1970) a new rectory was started in 1965, a garage and the rectory were attached to the church. C. C.D. classrooms were built in the basement under the rectory. Fr. Tuchscher moved into the new rectory after the New Year 1966. In mid February the C.C.D. and CW.O. for the school children began in the new classrooms. Lay members of the parish taught along with Father. The entire complex, the church in 1959, the rectory, garage and classrooms in 1965, was built by the Kainz Construction Company of Hope at the cost of $100,000.

In 1964 St. Olaf s Church of Finley became a mission of Our Lady of Peace Church in Mayville. Sacred Heart Church of Aneta became a mission of Tolna, and St. James Parish of Page became a mission of St. Agatha's in Hope.

In 1970 Msgr. V. Wiederholt replaced Fr. V. Tuchscher. Msgr. came to St. Agatha's from Langdon where he had served for 22 years. In the fall of 1977 the church debt was paid in full.

In October 1978 the parish of St. Agatha's and St. James honored Msgr. Wiederholt, celebrating with him, his 40th anniversary as a priest. In July 1979 Msgr. Wiederholt retired and was replaced by Fr. Gregory Patejko, who was installed on July 22, 1979, by Fr. John Smith of Fargo. Msgr. Wiederholt passed away June 1981. Fr. Patejko was born in Warsaw, Poland, in November 1930. He attended the Catholic University in Libin, Poland, for his theological studies. He was ordained on Holy Saturday, April 4, 1953. He was assistant pastor for two years, then was appointed pastor at Someanka, Poland. In 1968 he came to the United States and worked in the Trenton, NJ, diocese, while he studied the English language.

In 1972 he came to the diocese of Fargo and was appointed Pastor of St. Andrew's in Zeeland, North Dakota, where he served for seven years.

Father became a citizen of the United States on April 15, 1975. He speaks Polish, English, German, Latin, Italian, and French.

Since September 1980 Sacred Heart Parish of Aneta has again become a mission of St. Agatha's. Father keeps busy serving the three parishes, and Aneta is 40 miles north of Hope. The high school C. C.D. students of St. Agatha's serve breakfast the first Sunday of each month during the school Year, with the proceeds they have purchased several items for the church, including altar cloths, incensor, a vestment for Father and flowers for the altar. The church and both entries, and stairways have been carpeted and several other improvements made in 1981. Membership in 1981 is 200 members.


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