St. Wenceslaus Church, Wilber, NE
Address: 501 N Wilson, Wilber, NE 68465
The picturesque St. Wenceslaus church sits in a lot protected by pine trees on the north side of the historic Czech-enclave of Wilber, Nebraska. The church supports the promulgation of the Czech heritage with many artifacts of saints from the area of Europe where many of the parishioners’ ancestors immigrated from. The building is clean and quiet with abundant sunshine warming the pews from the colorful stained-glass windows lining the east and west side walls. The church is definitely worth a visit on a trip to the Czech capital of Nebraska and of the U.S.A. Masses are held on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 10 a.m.
Special things to see in the Church
> Stained glass-windows of Czech Saints Ludmila (grandmother) and Wenceslaus (grandson) on front entrance doors
> Large painting of Saint Wenceslaus on the west wall of the sanctuary dating from 1882
> Statue of St. John Nepomucene, a favorite saint in the Czech Republic, stands on the east side of the sanctuary
> Infant Jesus of Prague statue in the alcove on the west side of the nave
> Statues of Cyril and Methodius who are called the “Apostles of the Slavs” are mounted on the facing of the choir loft
Interesting Fact(s) About the Church
The story of St. Wenceslaus Church in Wilber started shortly after the town was platted in 1873 and is one of the earliest Czech Catholic communities formed in Nebraska. Rev. Frantisek Smutny came to the area in 1878 with plans for a parish and church. He, with some of the local faithful, started to build a new church on Third Street east of the railroad tracks, but before construction was completed, the building was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. In 1880, Rev. Filip Maly, S.J. arrived in Wilber and held Masses in the railroad depot and Hokof’s Dance Hall until he procured land next to the defunct Church of Christ Congregation in 1882. Under his direction, the parish then purchased the four-year-old, but quite dilapidated, building of the Congregation and renovated it into a good condition for use as St. Wenceslaus Church.
In 1949, Father Jerome Benedict Pokorny’s vision of a new church became a reality, and the new 32’ x 100’ church was built for a cost of $24,069 and was blessed by Bishop Louis B. Kucera of Lincoln on November 30, 1949.
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