Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish celebrated one hundred years of faith in 2006. However, our history actually dates back over 125 years ago in a rural farming community whose history has deep roots in the Kansas plains.
William Schwartz and Anthony Vohs received a parcel of land in payment for back wages. The year was 1858 and only four years after Kansas was declared an organized territory. The Wea Indians, giving our community its name, previously occupied this land. William's brother Jacob, and Anthony's brother Joseph joined the original two men in 1860 and created what is known as the Catholic Wea Community.
By 1869 the congregation grew to the point where it was imperative to them that they build a church rather than meeting in members' homes. The first church was started in 1869 and completed and dedicated in 1870 to the Blessed Virgin under the title of Queen of the Holy Rosary. The community remained a mission church until 1887 when Fr. Augustine Wieners came as pastor. A rectory and school were quickly added to the parish buildings in the ensuing years.
In 1895, it was decided to build a new and larger church. A brick structure was constructed at a cost of $15,000. The architect was Mr. Q. V McAfee of Garnett. On Sunday, April 9, 1905 a storm arose and a bolt of lightning struck the steeple. The structure was reduced to ashes.
The services of Mr. McAfee were once again enlisted to rebuild the church. When it was nearly completed, a cyclone struck the building and reduced it to rubble. The parishioners of Wea would not be defeated. They once again rebuilt and the church we now worship in was dedicated on May 29, 1906.
In the ensuing years, several pastors served their terms with the Wea Catholic Community. The physical plant of the parish continued to grow and to be modernized. Sisters from the Ursuline community in Paola came to educate the children of Wea. Fr. Henry Freisberg was appointed pastor in 1915. He was determined that the children of Wea would receive not only a Catholic elementary education, but also a Catholic high school education.
The plans were drawn and the building housing the elementary school, the high school and a parish gathering facility were erected and opened for the school year in September of 1921. Queen of the Holy Rosary School continued to educate children until financial conditions forced the closing of the school in 1970.
The parish family has always been very dedicated and blessed with the ability to enjoy life and the company of neighbors. The annual parish bazaar has a history that goes back more than 68 years and continues today. Ladies of the parish began quilting in the early days of the parish and the group of the Queen's Quilters continues today. Today we see second and third generation ladies carrying on this dying art.
It is also a parish that is rich in vocations to the priesthood-Fr. George Seuferling, brother of Teresa Kiesling; Fr. John Rooney and Fr. Don Rooney, sons of Don and Marie Rooney; Fr. Brian Schieber, son of Andy and Rita Schieber; and most recently Fr. Rick Storey who celebrated his first Mass at Wea on May 30, 2004.
Our parish now serves over 600 families and with growth comes new activities and new needs. The increasing number of families showed us that the current gathering facilities in the old school building were rapidly becoming too small. The increasing numbers of young children made it evident that a return of a parochial school was once again paramount in the minds of the parishioners.
During the 1990's a Strategic Planning Committee was formed, headed by Don Rooney. A parish Master Plan was developed and 1996 marked a turning point for the parish. Fr. Frank Schepers completed an additional 15 years of service at Wea and Fr. Tony Lickteig was assigned to be our pastor.
It was decided to proceed with a Fund Drive to seek pledges to construct a school and a social gathering place. Pledges were made in excess of $900,000 and the plans were drawn and permission received from the Archdiocese to build the facility. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 17, 1999 with Archbishop James P. Keleher and Fr. Tony Lickteig presiding over the joyous event. A second phase Fund Drive was held in the fall of 1999 with pledges totaling an additional $1,400,000.
In January of 2000, shortly after the groundbreaking ceremony, Holy Rosary welcomed a new Pastor, Father Ken Kelly to our parish family. Father Ken and various committees oversaw the construction of our new school facility which opened in August of 2000. Sister Helen Smith O.S.U. presided as principal of our new school and brought her expertise and experience to our growing community.
Our school now offers Catholic Education for Preschool through Eighth Grade, celebrating our first graduating class in 2005. Under strong leadership from our new Principal, Mrs. Becky Sachen, we will be opening Wea Angel House Daycare in the Fall of 2006 as well as the addition of four new classrooms and a parish center. Our curriculum has also expanded, changed, and under Mrs. Sachen's leadership will grow over the next few years.
In July, 2003, we welcomed Father Larry Albertson as new pastor of our community. Father Larry, arriving from Ascension Parish in Overland Park, Kansas, replaced Father Ken who chose the opportunity to live near his Mother, becoming the new pastor for St. Agnes. Father Larry has brought fresh ideas to the parish and will give us guidance, as well as implement upgrades to the church during our Centennial year.
Today, Holy Rosary Church continues to stand as a monument to our Catholic faith. I am sure that the founding fathers of our community would be amazed with the growth of our community and the beauty of our faith that has been passed along from generations before. As our community grows, so does our parish. We look forward to the changes that growth will bring and will continue our efforts to adjust to this growth. Our family is strong and we welcome all new members to our community. We pray for wisdom, guidance, patience and perseverance as we live the teachings of Jesus Christ and minister to each other.