History of St John Nepomuk
The parish of St. John Nepomuk, founded primarily of families of
Bohemian nationality, today St John welcomes those from many different
Catholic settlers began arriving in the Lake Reno area in 1866.
Missionaries did their best to serve the needs of the earliest Catholic
settlers beginning in 1868.
Between missionary visits, families would gather in homes to read
prayers, recite recite the rosary and sing hymn. Many walked for miles to
gather and participate in these layman services.. many of our early founders
were baptized in homes by missionaries who traveled far by horse to administer
The first Catholic church in Pope County was built in 1870, which was
constructed of hand-hewn logs designed by the parishioners. And from 1876 until
1884, Rev. John Schenk came from Long Prairie once a month to celebrate Mass in
this log church
In 1887, the little log church was to small for the growing
congregation, so the parishioners built a new church. In 1923 it was moved over
a full basement, enlarged and remodeled. This church survived until 1946, when
it burned to the ground.
In 1889, the Diocese of St. Cloud was formed, From then until 1916,
when the parish was incorporated and Reverend Frank First became our first
resident pastor. The parish was served by several priests who served parishes
such as Duelm, Browerville, Belgrade, Royalton, Elmdale, Glenwood, Lastrup and
Villard. The travel distances, considering available modes of travel then, were
Until 1917, when the first rectory was built, Farther First lived
withe the John Bisek family, one mile West of the church. The first rectory was
sued until the present rectory was built in 1967. Father First served until
After the disastrous fire of 1946, mass was celebrated in the Lowry
Village Hall for about two years while the new church was being built. The
cornerstone was laid on Sept 7, 1947 and mass was celebrated in the new church
in 1948. In 1953, granite altars and a communion rail were intalled and a new
organ was purchased. In 1958 the bell tower was built.
In 1967, the old rectory was sold and moved and the present rectory
was built. During this same period, the parish council was organized to help
with the administration of parish affairs and is still active. In 2000, the
church was tuckpointed, plastered, painted and new carpet installed.
Religion classes are taught by volunteer lay teachers during the
school year. Each year in August a bazaar is held with a dinner consisting
primarily of Bohemian specialties, In addition to the dinner, bingo,children's
games and a raffle provide entertainment in a festive atmosphere for many
parishioners and other visitors.