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Welcome to our
St. Wenceslaus page!

St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church
1224 5th Street S.E.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401-2697

C╣eská  Tady


St. Wenceslaus Church was heavily damaged during
the historic Cedar Rapids, Iowa flood of 2008.


The flood of 2008. See more.


Original church built in 1882


Grade school added in 1893

St. Wenceslaus was founded in 1874 with the original church, since demolished, being built in 1882. A grade school, demolished in 1988, was added in 1893.


Current church built in 1904

The current church was built in 1904 (see the October 5, 1905 dedication) and the current rectory in 1910. A high school building was opened in 1921 with the gymnasium and auditorium being added in 1926. In 1926 the high school became the first Czech parish high school in the United States to be fully accredited. The high school closed in 1958; the grade school closed in 1969.

St. Wenceslaus is designated a National Czech Parish, meaning that any Catholic of Czech origin can, regardless of parish boundaries, be a member of the parish. (Church photos courtesy of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library ... NCSML.)

         

         

More Church Photos

St. Wenceslaus High School
Home of The Red Hawks

1224 5th Street S.E.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401-2697

Dual Communities

St. Wenceslaus High School was part of two overlapping and corresponding communities. First, it was part of the Cedar Rapids south side neighborhood - a collection of churches, schools, family homes, small businesses and large industrial sites. Secondly, it was an integral part of the St. Wenceslaus Catholic Parish.

The Neighborhood People

The neighborhood around the St. Wenceslaus Parish campus was originally settled by Czechoslovaks (or Bohemians) who began to arrive in Cedar Rapids in the early 1850’s. Even greater numbers arrived after the Civil War and the end of the Prussian War in Austria in 1880. By the end of the century, Bohemians had become well represented in elected positions in local government and the city’s bustling economy. Initially they populated the city’s south side neighborhood east of the Cedar River but later also populated the west side directly across the river. Eventually hundreds of homes were built.

The Neighborhood Livelihood

The Bohemians worked in nearby businesses, small factories, and larger industrial sites such as the J. G. Cherry Company, the Carmody Foundry and the Sinclair Company meat packing plant. As the population grew, many of the Bohemians opened their small businesses, often in the lower level of a building while they and their family resided in the upper level. The properties were well kept, and usually included flower gardens and vegetable patches. A bank was established with the primary purpose of providing mortgage loans to the Bohemian population. A bridge was constructed to connect the east and west sides of the river. And a streetcar line was run to connect the Bohemian neighborhood to the main Cedar Rapids business district to the north.

The Neighborhood Social Institutions

Bohemian social institutions were established and grew along with the population. The immediate neighborhood was home for the Czecho-Slovak Protective Society (CSPS) hall, the Western Bohemian Fraternal Association (ZCBJ) hall, and a Czech language school.


CSPS Hall

The buildings housing these organizations still exist in the southeast side neighborhood. although they have been converted to different uses. Several Bohemian churches were established. The St. Wenceslaus Bohemian Catholic Church was the first and the largest.


ZCBJ Hall

The Parish Beginnings

In 1874, the St. Wenceslaus Bohemian Catholic Parish was established and a church built. The parish started slowly, with sixty families at first. But within three decades, it had grown to 1200 parishioners. In 1904, a substantial new church was built to replace the old structure which was later torn down. In 1879, a house for the pastor was added; it was replaced with the current structure in 1910.

The Parish Schools

In 1893, a school was built to provide elementary education for the youth of the parish.

In 1922, rooms were added to the elementary building to provide housing for the Sisters of Mercy who were teaching there and to provide room for high school classes.

In 1926, the high school building was built on the site of the original church and classes were held there that year.

The high school was closed in 1958. The elementary school continued on for several years.

In 1968, grades seven and eight were dropped and in 1969 the entire elementary school was closed.


High school opened in 1921


A 1950's high school class


Working on The Red Hawk

The Parish Today

The elementary school has since been torn down but the other three buildings are still in use today. The 1904 church remains active for regular religious services. The rectory serves as a business office for the parish. The high school building is used for various meetings and social events.

The parish is designated as a National Czech parish, meaning that the usual parish boundaries are opened to all Catholics of Bohemian origin regardless of where they reside.


Class of '57 reunion


Class reunion


Class reunion

The Alumni have gathered a large number of artifacts - class pictures, athletic team pictures, trophies, letter sweaters, pictures of all the parish pastors and assistant pastors, the nuns who taught at the schools, and alumni who went on to the religious vocation. All are displayed in Chihak Hall, located in the basement of the church.

A newsletter, aptly titled "The REDHAWK", is published two or three times a year. It publishes the reunion schedule, special news about alumni and school friends, and an obituary list.


Alumni photo archives


Athletic photo archives


Championship trophies


Aerial overview


Area Map

   



Czech Points

Click Here For LARGE PRINT Assistance

Special Greeting To All Visitors of This Site

St. Wenceslaus H. S. Classmates & Alumni

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Czech Genealogical Society International

American-Czech Survey Questionnaire

CR's Oldest Czech Meat Market

CR's Oldest Czech Bakery

Czech Slovak Connections

Czech Slovak Home Page

The Czech Cottage of CR

The Czech Village of Iowa

Czech & Slovak Heritage

St. Wenceslaus, Omaha

The Local History Center

CR Czech Plus Band

CR Gazette Online

Local News 2

Local News 7

Local News 9

More Links

Contact Us

            

News and Photos next.

   

Alumni feedback is welcomed.
Submit your comments, questions
announcements, articles or links here
.

THE CEDAR RAPIDS GAZETTE
October 5, 1905

DEDICATION OF ST. WENCESLAUS CHURCH

HANDSOME NEW CHURCH FORMALLY DEDICATED

Archbishop Keane Preached Sermon - Imposing Procession of Societies - Celebration of High Mass by Prominent Priests

Attended by what was without a doubt the greatest gathering of people that ever attended a similar event in the city St. Wenceslaus church was formally dedicated yesterday to the use for which it was intended. The building has been in use several months, but the dedication ceremonies were postponed until yesterday because of the absence of Archbishop Keane, who has been in Europe the greater part of the summer and whom it was desired should take a prominent part in the dedication services. Although the new building is one of the most commodious structures in the city, not more than one-third of the crowd were able to get seats, and probably one-half of them could not get into the building at all. The street in front of the church was crowded for half a block, and there was an impatient though orderly rush for seats when the doors were thrown open.

The procession, headed by a platoon of police and Kubicek’s band, and followed by the different Catholic societies of the city in uniform; left the old St. Wenceslaus church at 8 o’clock and from there marched to Twelfth Avenue, where the procession was joined by the Iowa City visitors, who came up on a special interurban car.

The procession then went on Third avenue to Fifth street west, where the Catholic Order of Foresters of the west side and half of the Knights of Columbus of this city joined the procession; from there the procession marched across First avenue bridge and up First avenue to Second street, down Second street to Third avenue, up Third avenue to Seventh street, where the east side Foresters and the rest of the Knights of Columbus joined the procession, and where they were reviewed by Archbishop Keane. From here the procession marched to the church, where the dedication service began at 10 o’clock.

The services opened with a procession of the archbishop and the several priests present around the building. A short service was then held on the steps, and the priests entered the building and gave it their blessing. The doors were then thrown open and the ladies societies of the church entered and took seats, followed by as much of the crowd as could get into the building. After the opening service Archbishop Keane preached the dedicatory sermon, and spoke in part as follows:

Archbishop Keane’s Sermon

With all my heart I congratulate the pastor and people of this parish upon the splendid work they have accomplished in the erection of this lovely church, which we have this morning dedicated to the work of God under the patronage of St. Wenceslaus. I congratulate you upon the work which have done; it is a noble work which you have undertaken, and nobly have you accomplished it. The heart of your pastor must have been very full of confidence in God’s protection in order to think of such a work, and thanks be to God we have this day dedicated it our blessed Lord and His holy religion. My heart is full of gladness and from my heart I invoke God’s blessing upon him and upon every one of those who cooperated with him. From my heart I bless every one that has contributed even the smallest offering to the building of the church. God knows your hearts; God knows your minds; God knows how generously you have given and I am sure the rich and the poor gave according to their means. I am sure there has not been a stingy soul among those your good pastor has approached and asked for help--I am sure he has not met with one refusal.

Therefore, in the name of the dear blessed Savior, in whose honor you have done this work, and to whose glory you have constructed this building, in His name I thank you , and in His name I bless you.

I know your hearts are full of gladness this morning that so large and so noble a work has been done. You deserve my congratulations and you deserve my blessings, and I am glad that besides the people of this parish there are many hundreds and thousands of others that are rejoicing and giving thanks to God and offering you their congratulations on this blessed morning. I am glad they have come from every part of his state and from neighboring states to offer you their congratulations and their blessing. But oh my friends, there are some others who are with you this morning, giving you their blessings and their congratulations. Think of your friends in the old country - fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters in the old land. They knew you have been engaged all these months past in this blessed work; they have taken an interest in it, perhaps a deeper interest than you, and have been praying for your success. Perhaps some of those have sent their contributions to help you, and this morning they are rejoicing with you that the Catholic Bohemians of Cedar Rapids have built such a good temple to the good. God has consecrated such a magnificent church to the service of His holy religion.

And there are others who are rejoicing with you today - your parents or grandparents who have left this life. Do you remember how you visited the cemetery far over the sea and there prayed for them and asked them to pray for you that God might protect you in your voyage across the Atlantic -- that God might prosper your life in the new world? They are praying for you today and they are rejoicing for you, your grandparents whose bones lie in the old country, but whose souls are with God. They are rejoicing and giving thanks with you today. Our brethren in God are nearer us today than the brethren of this world. When you started across the ocean to try your fortunes in a new world they were praying for you that you might succeed. They did not want your lives to be failures -- they were praying that your lives might be a success, and therefore were praying that God’s (a couple of sentences here are illegible) says that. Your dear friends across the water have been praying for you that you might save yourselves. They know very well that in coming to this country you will be exposed to many temptations -- that in this country you would find many dangers to your holy faith; that in this country you would find people who would say to you, ‘Never mind the church, come and serve the devil.’ But when they hear of this beautiful church being built they say: Oh God, the Father, our people have kept their faith, for unless the people love their religion they would not build a church like this one.

See to it that our children and your grandchildren are educated as Christians,that they are taught from the earliest years to walk in the footsteps of St. Wenceslaus. And friends, beware of mixed marriages. In seeking for the partner of your life, seek one of the Christian faith. Seek for one who will be united with you in giving your children a Christian education; for if you begin your family wrong do not be surprised if the family should go wrong eventually. Without God’s blessing nothing can be a success. Labor for the things of this world, and labor still more for the things eternal, that your lives may be a success here below and in eternity.

Now you will be addressed by one in your own grand old language, and in its sweet strains all lessons will go deeper into your hearts, and while of course you must love the stars and stripes and raise your children to be Good Americans, still never forget the old country. Again I congratulate you, and again I bless you”.

Those Who Assisted

Following the sermon of Archbishop Keane the congregation was addressed in Czech by the Very Rev. A. Vranek of Omaha.

At the close of Rev. Vrane’s address, high mass was celebrated with the following priests participating:

Right Rev. John N. Jaeger of Chicago, celebrant.
Rev. John Bleha of St. Louis, deacon.
Rev. Aloisius Kolar of Clutier, Iowa, sub-deacon.
Rev. Rud. Lakoumy, Chelsea.
Rev. Flor. Svrdlik, Cedar Rapids.

Present in the sanctuary:

Very Rev. A. Vranek, Omaha;
Archbishop J. J. Keane, Dubuque;
Very Rev. Dean Gunn, Cedar Rapids;
Very Rev. Fichy, New Prague, Minn.;
Rev. N. Barry, chancellor to Archbishop Keane, Dubuque;
Rev. C. Vones, secretary to celebrant;
Rev. T.J. Sullivan, Cedar Rapids.

Immediately after the ceremonies dinner was served in St. Wenceslaus hall, which stands just south of the new church. The band gave a concert during the afternoon, and the day closed with a play in the hall, which was given in the Czech language.

Church a Beautiful One

The new St. Wenceslaus church is a most beautiful structure, as well as a commodious one. The main floor will seat 600 people, and the gallery seventy-five more. The building is handsomely lighted by 300 electric lights, and when they are all turned on the interior is as light as day. He walls of the building have been left unstained for the present, but the stained glass windows are some of the most beautiful samples of stained glass work in the city.

The altar pieces are of especial beauty and are all three concerning the life of St. Wenceslaus. The picture above the main altar is of stained glass and represents St. Wenceslaus as the duke of the Bohemian people, mounted on a horse; it is the gift of Anthony Kopecky and is valued at $200. It is a very fine piece of work.

Over the side altar at the right is a painting of St. Wenceslaus receiving a jewel, painted by Miss Mary Burk of DeWitt, a sister of the mother superior at Mercy hospital. Over the other side altar is a picture of the death of St. Wenceslaus; this was the main altar piece in the old church.

The stained glass windows were presented by the following people:

St. Cyrillus, one of the first apostles to the Slavonic peoples, presented by Joseph Brush and family.

The crucifixion, a large double window, stained in soft yet brilliant colors, valued at $250, presented to the church by Emma Pecenka, Mary Pecenka and Barbora Lukes.

St. Ludmila, presented by Anny and Francisca Vanous.

St. John of Nepomug, by Anna Sonka.

Mater Dolorosa, by Mary Kuba.

A head of Christ, presented by Francis and Francisca Smid.

St. Adalbert, presented by Anthony and John Hac.

St. Agnes, presented by Anthony Kopecky, Jr., and Anna Kopecky.

Resurrection, given by Roshek brothers of Dubuque. This is another large window valued at $250, and is of marvelous beauty.

St. Methodius, one of the first apostles to the Slavs, presented by Frank Sonka.

At the back of the church, over the gallery, is a large round stained glass window, presented by the architects, Dieman & Fiske.

The church and the grounds are valued at $400,000 and the Bohemian Catholics of the city certainly have a church of which they may be proud. --

News and Photos next.

   

 

 

 

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