In the early history of 1860, St. James Parish was established in record to be the first missionary work done in the Wetmore vicinity. In those very early years, the priest held Mass services in different homes until the frame Church was erected. On June 19, 1877, Simon Conwell, an attorney at Seneca who was a prominent Catholic, purchased lots 6 and 7, Block 9 in Wetmore. Twenty-four days later on July 13, 1877, Mr. Conwell deeded the lots to the Right Reverend Louis M. Fink, Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas who resided at Leavenworth. On November 21, 1877, for some unknown reason, the Bishop deeded the lots back to Conwell. However, on June 11, 1878, Mr. Conwell again deeded the lots to the Bishop. In 1877, Mr. Everson Whited built a frame church and Father John Begley of Effingham organized the church. At this time, Wetmore was a mission served by attachment to Fidelity parish until 1888. Then from 1889 to 1910, Wetmore was a mission served by Effingham.
The parish had continued to be served as a mission until March of 1938 when Fr. Angelus Lingenfelser, OSB came to serve our parish on a full-time basis. He was the resident pastor until 1948. Working together in the early 1940’s Father Angelus and the church members remodeled and redecorated the frame church; installing electric lighting and adding a Sacristy. In 1943, they acquired a fourth of a block of property adjoining the church. When Fr. Angelus had first come to Wetmore, there was no parish house for living quarter. He stayed with parishioners until the parish hall was purchased and retreated to the basement sometimes for housing and quiet time. A parish home was then built in the early ‘40’s. In the early ‘50’s a Sister’s house was erected by the parish.
The 1950—51 the framed church was once again remodeled and updated. A furnace was installed, the walls were covered with plywood paneling, and the choir loft was also rebuilt. A new altar, Baldachin, Blessed Virgin Mary Altar and communion rail was built for St. James. Father Angelus, at this time was at the Abbey, and Father Germain Kucklemann, Pastor at St. James helped design the new altar, while two brother at the Abby, Brother Walter Landwehr and Brother Emmanuel Prez did the carpentry work and all the carvings. A new tabernacle was purchased and a vestibule was also added.
Before Fr. Angelus had been called back to Atchison, he managed to get a one-room schoolhouse and the assistance of nuns for our very own Catholic School. The parish and school continued to grow with the enrollment of pupils outgrowing the one-room frame structure. A new two-room brick school building was built in 1960. The Catholic school continued until closing of the doors in 1969 with the loss of our nuns because they closed all the two-Sister schools. The brick school building was then remodeled and converted into a church. This continued to be the St. James Church until the present new church was built in 2009.
Issues of maintenance and lack of space began to arise, so a building committee was established to address these problems. In October, 2008, the building committee met with a few representatives from the Archdiocese to explore options. The Archdiocese drew up three different remodeling plans, and one draft for a new church. The committee’s consensus was that these plans were too pricy for our parish families. The committee went a new direction and had a local lumber company draw up a basic drawing and estimate for a 50’x90’ church. The committee felt the price was manageable, so presented this plan to the parishioners. The parishioners were very excited about the idea of keeping the new church basic and within a price range they could afford. After talking with Leon Roberts of the Archdiocese, they approved to let us start our capital campaign. The building plan was approved by the Archdiocese. Parishioners gathered on September 5, 2009, as Archbishop Neumann blessed the ground for the new church. The parishioners of St. James have been a tremendous part of making this a beautiful church. Several fund raisers were held. We at St. James are so excited about our new church and feel very blessed to be associated with generous and hardworking patrons and to have the support of the surrounding communities. We truly appreciate Father Kent O’Connor and Father Balachandra R. Miriyala for helping us get this project off the ground and for seeing it through to completion. In July 2011, our present pastor, Father Greg Hammes was appointed to St. James Catholic Church.
St. James Rental Forms
INFORMATION ST. JAMES CHURCH, WETMORE, KANSAS
Fr. Gregory Hammes
Secretary: Joyce Burdiek ph.785-207-0268 or 785-866-5038
Finance Committee: Bill Burdick, Ron Heinen, Randy Tanking
Parish Council: Alan Slipke, Randy Henry, Dave Shumaker, Corey Bloom, Glen Henry, Tonya Evans, Cindy Osterhaus
Altar Society: Louise Tanking, Joyce Stallbaumer, Nancy Henry, Cindy Osterhaus
Bulletin: Anna Marie Segenhagen
Religious Ed Director: Gina Sallman
Religion Teachers: Chantel Heinen, Barb Clowe, Sharon Bloom, Gena Niehues, Dave Shumaker, Wade Talley, Anissa Bloom