Mass, dinner to celebrate centennial of St. Anthony Church, Atkinson, on June 17

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at 4 p.m. marking 100 years since the dedication of St. Anthony Church in Atkinson.

ATKINSON — When a fire destroyed their church in 1916, the members of St. Anthony Parish immediately got to work to erect a new place of worship. It was dedicated 100 years ago and the current parishioners will celebrate that milestone with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 17.

Joining them will be Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC. Father S. Stephen Engelbrecht, pastor, will also welcome visiting clergy and guests.

A chicken dinner will follow for members of the parish family. At the celebration in 1917, a contribution of $1 per family was requested. The tradition will continue with a voluntary donation made by parishioners.

To prepare for the centennial, a yearbook outlining the history of St. Anthony Parish was put together and holy cards have been printed. A quilt made by Verna May will be raffled during the dinner.

Among the keepsakes that will be available are ornaments designed and made by James Puentes, a former parishioner whose father was a family physician in Atkinson for many years. They are replicas of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary of the church, including St. Anthony, the resurrection, and the round window in the choir loft, as well as the painting in the dome above the altar and the exterior of the church.

Memorabilia from the church’s past will be on display in the “Memory Room” in the parish hall.


Atkinson was established in 1856 and Catholics of Belgian descent soon started to settle in the area. Priests celebrated Mass in various homes from 1857 to 1868, and in 1870 land was donated for a church. Built of wood, the structure was dedicated to St. Anthony.

A brick church was built across the street and dedicated in 1900, but was destroyed by fire in 1916. The current church, which cost $52,800 to build, was dedicated on Dec. 4, 1917.

Redecorated in 1949 and 1967, St. Anthony Church “continues to be a place of traditional elegance and beauty,” according to the centennial organizers.

Improvements include replacing the church’s four large mahogany doors with help from a committee of parish women, who raised $35,000 through the sale of a cookbook, “Recipes and Recollections,” in 2004.

The parish center was built on the site of the original wooden church and dedicated by Bishop Jenky in 2011.

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