Welcome to St. Therese Parish! Established in 1950, St. Therese Catholic Church and School has grown from a small congregation of 75 people to a parish of over 3,000 families.
HISTORY Of ST. THERESE PARISH
Established in 1950, St. Therese Catholic Church and School has grown from a small congregation of 75 people to a parish of over 3,000 families. In the past 50 years, the parish has encountered the many challenges facing any large organization. With new companies relocating employees within the parish boundaries and established businesses occasionally laying off personnel, the parish sees an average of 50 families being added or dropped on a monthly basis.
The formal establishment of St. Therese Parish was authorized by Bishop LeBlond after careful consideration. He sent Fr. Thomas Brett, who celebrated the first official Mass on Easter Sunday, April 9th, 1950, in the chapel of the former Leland Francis Funeral Home, now the Heritage Funeral Home. The families were delighted with their first pastor, as his goal was to have a permanent church, with room for future expansion. The present property, consisting of 12-13 acres, was purchased from Noble Johnson, a former Platte Countian. The acreage was perfect – setting high, with a beautiful view and room to grow. Plans were made and the first of several groundbreaking ceremonies were held on February 11, 1951, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The first building was the parish center, with a church and school located upstairs, and nun’s quarters downstairs. This original building served for 20 years as the church.
Though most of the people were poor, they were strong in spirit. They struggled and sacrificed to give their children a Catholic education. No child was refused into the school and the number of Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth teaching at the school climbed as the parish grew rapidly. Expansion was on the minds of many. A convent was built in 1955 to house the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, and later the Sisters of Francis of Savannah came to St. Therese. Eventually both orders left as a result of a decline in the number of those entering the religious teaching order. Peak growth between 1973 and 1976 commanded that additional space be built to the school. In 1977, a new wing added 11,000 sq. ft. allowing for 6 classrooms, library, administrative offices, faculty and music rooms, as well as religious offices.
The next expansion to the complex, in 1965, included a rectory for the resident priests, which at one time housed as many as five priests and a housekeeper. Just as Platte County experienced steady growth, so did the parish. There became a real need for a new church, as the gym was small and inadequate and needed for what it was - - a gym. A church, seating about 650 persons, was dedicated on March 12, 1972 by Bishop Helmsing. Little did anyone realize then that within another 20 years, this facility would again be outgrown.
With the increase in outside-the-home working mothers, the need arose for loving, Christian childcare. A three-story building, housing a Child Care Center, Pre-School and Kindergarten classrooms and meeting space was added in 1991. The Early Education Center, as it is now called, has grown steadily in enrollment reaching a capacity of 260 children.
The Catholics of Southern Platte County have shown persistence and determination as they have continued to strive for a place to worship and education their children. Today, the parish of the “Little Flower,” as St. Therese is sometimes known, is extremely large, encompassing the entire southern half of Platte County. After a couple of years of overflowing Masses the time had come to decide on the future of the St. Therese community – divide the area and start another parish or build to accommodate the crowds. After research, discussions and several Town Hall meetings, the decision was made to build on the present grounds. The convent was eliminated and a new 1,500 seat church was constructed. All anticipated with great pride and joy the dedication and blessing of the new worship space by Bishop Raymond Boland on January 14, 1998.
Planning for the future was at the forefront of many minds, as a diocesan-wide millennium study and the arrival of a new century showed that Platte County was still in line with anticipated growth. Needless to say, expansion was a high priority. Families faced with the thought of limited Catholic education, pushed for improvement and some type of development.
Again, Town Hall meetings and gatherings provided insight to what many wanted - - a NEW SCHOOL!! Excitement was building with groundbreaking underway in July of 2002. Plans called for the first phase to be completed for the start of the 2003 school year. Final occupancy took place in December of 2003. Eventually, demolition included the elimination of several buildings - - the old church, school, and rectory - - making a property regrade possible to accommodate additional parking. The following year, a central fountain was placed in the courtyard, located where the old church was.
Many outstanding pastors and associates have served our parish family since its founding. Among them – Msgr. Thomas Brett, founding Pastor; Msgr. Denis A. O’Duignan; Msgr. Victor G. Moser; Rev. Frank Lackamp; Rev. T. James Hart; Rev. Michael Roach and our present pastor Rev. Joseph I. Cisetti, who has been an associate several times.
Serving as associate pastors have been; Rev. Bernard Branson; Rev. Lloyd Opoka; Rev. Lawrence Walsh, J.J.; Rev. Francis McGlynn; Rev. Terry Bruce; Rev. James Healy; Rev. David Schwartze; Rev. Harold Powell; Rev. Rick Dierkes; Rev. Michael Roach; Rev. Jerry Schuster; Rev. Bradley Offutt; Rev. Francis Carey; Rev. Michael Arciga; Rev. John McCormack; Rev. Philip Watanabe; Rev. Joseph Cisetti; Rev. Justin Hoye; Rev. Duc Nguyen; Rev. Evan Harkins; Rev. Kevin Drew; Rev. Patrick Tobin; Rev. Daniel Gill; Rev. Ryan Koster and currently assisting is Rev. Randolph Sly and Rev. Andrew Kleine.
With a parish of this size, as with any large institution, it may seem difficult to have a personal congregation, but the various clubs and organizations, numbering around 50, attempt to bring people together in Christian activities. Making Platte County a better place to live is what many St. Therese parishioners strive for - - many through their works and deeds, while others succeed through their words and prayers.
All in all, the people that belong to St. Therese are a dedicated group: sincere and devout, they are as intent as their predecessors to give themselves and their children the best they can. We live out this mission through our prayer, worship and ministry.