Sundays at 10:30
Saturdays at 5:30 (Memorial Day to end of September)
The Catholic way of praying and teaching began in our part of the Missouri River Valley when Jesuit priests from St. Paul's Indian Mission, Marty, SD would cross the river and teach, say mass, offer the other sacraments for the people at Santee Sioux Reservation beginning in 1912. In 1915 Henry Westropp S.J. came from Marty, SD and built the Sacred Heart Chapel in Santee. Father P.F. Sialm S.J. and others came from Holy Rosary Mission in South Dakota.
In 1948, the first Catholic Church was built in Niobrara. Father Benno Fellinger, O.S.B. pastor was able to use some of the lumber from the Sacred Heart Chapel of Santee. The Church was built on two lots donated by Dr. Benjamin Ewing, a surgeon in Omaha who was born and grew to manhood in Niobrara. The wooden frame church was dedicated by Gerald T. Bergan, the new archbishop of Omaha.
The Benedictine priests of Marty, SD continued to serve the parish until 1959. Father Benno Fellinger, O.S.B. served from 1943 to 1948, Father Daniel Madlon, O.S.B. served from 1948 to 1949, Father Benno served from 1949 to 1956, Father Gerald Busche, O.S. B. served from 1956 to 1958. Father Francis Suttmiller, O.S.B. announced in 1959 that the Benedictine priests will no longer serve at Santee and Niobrara. From then on priests of the Omaha Archdiocese would serve us. Besides the help of the priests of St. Benedict, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters from Lynch provided religious education for our children in the summer. Father Charles Kamber, pastor of Lynch, served St. William Church from May 1959 to March 1960. In March 1960 a flood destroyed the Highway 12 bridge across the Niobrara River. Father Kamber was unable to come to Niobrara so Father Melvern Wiese of Creighton served until June 1960. In June 1960, St. William Church received it's first resident pastor, Father John McNally. Father Hugh Schwartz came in 1964. Father Duane Lukes began serving us in 1966. The parish was getting too large for the white frame church.
In April 1967, construction of a new church began. The church was 75' by 50' with a full basement. It was located on the same site as the old church. The altar was of native walnut top with its legs made from native stone taken from the Maiden's leap area. The church's exterior was brick. It was dedicated by Archbishop Gerald T. Bergan in November 1967. The old white Catholic Church was purchased by the Full Gospel Church of Niobrara and was moved into "Church Square" in the "New Niobrara". Starting in February 1969 the following Lynch pastors came to serve us: Father Michael Printy (1969), Father Joseph Ortli (June 1970), Father William Guthman (September 1971), and Father Rick Arkfeld (June 1973). In June 1974 we became a mission to Constance and Father Donald Stortz was our priest. Father Ronald Battiato of Verdigre became our pastor in June 1978.
No parish can go year after year without change. St. William and the town of Niobrara have had their share of changes. Because of the water level rise in the Gavins Point Dam basin, the town of Niobrara had to move up into the hills south of the old town. Our 1967 brick church was moved with all the businesses and homes, but it sustained many cracks and structural damage. That church was abandoned and taken apart. Many of the church's furnishings were salvaged and placed in a new church built in 1978 and 1979. Father Battiato, with many parish members, directed this building project. On June 22, 1979 the new brick church of St. William was dedicated in the "New Town" of Niobrara on the corner of Juniper and Buckeye streets by Archbishop Daniel E. Sheehan. Our bell and it's tower have had a long history. Alice and Joe Robinette sold some cattle to buy the bell for the Santee Church in the 1920s. The bell was then placed in the wooden frame church in Niobrara that was built in 1948 and was used until it was placed in storage from 1966 until 1994. Lorraine Robinette began a fund for the new bell tower. With additional gifts from Daisy Keene and other parishioners the old bell in the new bell tower was in place June 1994. From June 1994 to June 1997 Father Gregory Baxter served the Verdigre and Niobrara churches. Father Michael Malloy became pastor of Verdigre and Niobrara with residency at Verdigre in 1997. Father Jay Kruse became pastor of St. William Church in June 2002. Father Doug Scheinost was the presiding pastor from 2004-2013. The current priest is Father Kizito Okhuoya.