Ransom celebrates 120
years of Catholic presence
RANSOM -- One hundred and twenty years ago, when the plains of Kansas were still relatively new to west-bound homesteaders, a small crowd of people met in the home of Charles Schreiber just east of Ransom.
There, the Catholics of north central Ness County and southern Trego County participated in the first Mass celebrated as an independent congregation in the rugged community.Last Sept. 13, parishioners past and present gathered at the historic St. Aloysius Church in Ransom for an anniversary Mass celebrated by Father Henry Hildebrandt, pastor. Following Mass, a potluck was served, and games were offered in the afternoon for both the young and old.
Father John Disselkamp, who celebrated that first Mass 120 years ago, would be followed by several priests, who served the congregation at infrequent intervals, from once a month to once every two or three months.
In 1901, a warehouse was purchased in Ness City for $125, and moved to Ransom. With the donation of pews and stations from St. Mary Parish, McCracken, the parishioners of Ransom had a church.
In 1913, Bishop John J. Hennessy visited the area and decided the structure would soon be too small for the growing congregation. With their pioneer spirit intact, the hearty parishioners rented a machine for making cement blocks, and after much preparation, construction began on a new church the following year.
About 20 years later, when the church needed funds for shingles and a cross and corpus for the cemetery, Father Placid Wolker organized a drama club. Parishioners took to the stage, performing in Ransom, Ness City and Atwood to raise the needed funds.
On Dec. 5, 1935, fire gutted the church, but the cement frame and the roof were left intact. Parishioners once again put their hearts on their sleeves and worked so hard to repaint, refinish and replace whatever was needed, that the church was ready for Mass in time for Christmas.
In 1945, after successfully appealing to the War Production Board (which restricted the use of building materials), the church was enlarged to double the seating capacity.
Today, the parish, whose pastor is Father Henry Hildebrandt, boasts 85 registered families.
Most of the information contained in this article came from Tim Wenzl’s history of the Diocese of Dodge City, “A Legacy of Faith.”