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Capital Campaign 



In the summer of 1875, the first Mass of this parish was celebrated, and the first St. Patrick church was built in July 1877 in the same location that the church occupies today.  This church was a small frame building with no seats of any kind and was actually named St. Joseph’s at that time. The area was populating quickly and they quickly outgrew the seating capacity of this 8 x 36 foot church.  A second, more traditional, church was completed in 1882. Father Michael Francis Cassidy was appointed to St. Joseph’s Parish in 1886. He was born in Ireland and  began his religious studies there, before continuing them in the United States and Canada. On November 9, 1886, Father Cassidy changed the name of the church to St. Patrick, in order to have an Irish saint for his parish, in honor of the Irish settlers of the area and, of course, his own heritage. St. Patrick Church was regularly incorporated under the laws of the State of Nebraska at Omaha.

On August 4, 1909, the cornerstone of the new St. Patrick church was laid in grand ceremony, and the current St. Patrick church building was dedicated on October 19, 1910.  The windows, Stations of the Cross, and the pews are the same that are in the church today. Redecorations of the church interior took place over the years, with the major changes coming in 1968 with the Vatican II Council changes to the liturgy of the Catholic church. At this time, the altar was turned to face the congregation and a new pipe organ was installed in the front of the church necessitating a total reconstruction and dismantling of the old altar area, including removal of the two side altars and the placement of a false wall at the front of the church with the organ pipes being set in front of it. Other projects - from painting the interior to exterior masonry restoration - have taken place over the years including the installation of a new baptismal font and front entry re-flooring, installation of a new handicap ramp and grotto, and repairing and refurbishing the original stained glass windows of the church.  

St. Mary's Academy was excavated in June of 1890, but on February 19, 1891, a fire burned down the entire building within 90 minutes. It was rebuilt and opened by the Sisters of St. Francis in late 1900. By the end of the first year, they had 210 day students and 20 boarders. In 1958, the Sisters of St. Francis were no longer able to meet the financial needs of St. Mary’s Academy and they turned over operation and ownership of the St. Mary’s Academy to St. Patrick Church. In 1961, St. Mary's no longer took boarders, and the cornerstone for a new St. Mary's High School was laid on January 24, 1962. On February 16, 1965, a mysterious fire destroyed St. Mary's Academy. Fortunately no one was harmed, but the beautiful Academy building was gone.  Construction on the new elementary school began in September 1965 with it opening in September 1966, and a new addition was built onto the high school. In 1989, with the threat of the closing of St. Mary's due to financial difficulties, the Save Our School project began to raise funds to alleviate the deficit, help with long-term operating costs, and build up the endowment.  In 2008, as part of the "Building Up Our Legacy Campaign", the high school underwent many renovations including locker rooms, offices, bathrooms, elevator, front commons addition, and new boilers, among many other things. In 2012, the St. Mary's Grade School had the roof and entryway repaired, the grade school boilers from 1965 were replaced, and an enclosed hallway was built to connect the high school and grade school.  A new roof was put on St. Mary's High School in 2019.  


Throughout our history, both St. Patrick Church and St. Mary's School have undergone many exterior and interior changes.  Renovation and updates made over the years at St. Patrick have left the building feeling stagnant and dull instead of inspirational.  The church building also has critical maintenance issues that need to be addressed, some of which include large gaps between exterior bricks, aging and leaky tower windows, and peeling and flaking wall plaster. In addition the HVAC system needs to be upgraded for both the high school and grade school.  The pipes, valves, and relays in the building are failing, causing (and putting us at risk for more) leaks in the classrooms, inefficient heating, and inconsistent temperature maintenance within the schools. The boilers will remain for hot water only but it is time to move to an HVAC system which provides more efficient heating as well as affords us the opportunity to install air conditioning. 

Planning Study

At the beginning of 2024, we retained the services of the Steier Group, a Nebraska-based Catholic development consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive planning study. This study helped us determine whether there was sufficient support to move forward with a major fundraising effort to accomplish some, or all, of our goals.  The St. Patrick and St. Mary’s community responded wonderfully, and the Steier Group presented their findings to the Parish Council and Finance Committee on February 13, 2024.  

Capital Campaign

Based on your feedback and a thorough review of the study, parish leaders fully endorse moving forward with a capital campaign. We are currently in communication with the Archdiocese of Omaha to obtain permission to proceed. In the meantime, we are transitioning to prepare for a campaign. We will be working to recruit a volunteer team to assist with this effort as well as developing communication to ensure that everyone stays up to date with our progress.


The theme of our campaign On the Shoulders of Giants: Strengthening Our Legacy. We want to acknowledge those who have gone before us as we continue the work they started. 2027 will be the 150th anniversary of our parish’s founding, and we want to ensure our place in O’Neill for another 150 years! 


Campaign Chairs

A special thank you to these volunteers who have agree to step up and help lead our campaign efforts!

Honorary Chairs

Mike and Deb Kelly 

Mike and Deb have been members of St. Patrick Parish for over 35 years.  Mike is a past president of St. Mary's Catholic School Advisory Board; Deb is a lector and co-chair for the St. Mary's Red Carpet Gala. Their four grown children attended St. Mary's Schools, and six of their grandchildren currently attend. 

Mr. Charles Molvig and Mrs. Coni Dowd-Molvig 

Charles and Coni have been members of St. Patrick parish since 1976. Coni is a past member of St. Patrick’s Finance Committee and was a member of the Omaha Archdiocese Educational foundation for 30 years. 

General Chairs

Ryan and Traci Berg 

Ryan and Traci have been members of St. Patrick for 12 years. Traci is the Title 1 teacher at St. Mary's Grade School and is the head girl’s basketball coach at St. Mary's High School. Ryan is an EMHC, a member of the Knights of Columbus and serves on the Finance Committee. He is an alumnus of St. Mary's, and all four of their children attend as well. 


M.J. and Jane Kersenbrock 

M.J. and Jane have been members of St. Patrick parish for 42 years. M.J. has been a member of the Finance Committee since 1991; he is a deacon at St. Patrick and teaches Theology to St. Mary’s seniors. Jane is a lector and an EMHC for St. Patrick. Jane and M.J. both attended St. Mary’s. Their four children are also alumni, and they currently have grandchildren enrolled. 


Chad and Amy KinKennon 

Chad and Amy have been members of St. Patrick for 12 years. Amy helps teach classes for the St. Patrick’s Religious Education program. Chad is a member of the School Advisory Board, assists with Summer Grounds Keeping, and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. Their two children attend St. Mary’s School. 

Frequently Asked Questions

During the recently completed campaign planning study, participants asked several questions relating to the parish projects. To provide clarity, a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers has been developed. This document provides key information regarding our projects, goals and the campaign process. 

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