History of the Church
In 1867, the first Catholic families migrated from Springfield, Illinois, and settled in the area that would later become Mead. These were the families of John Holden, Quentin McCarthy, Fenton Phelan, and William Phelan. Their arrival came 9 years before the establishment of the Union Pacific Railroad station. This railroad was completed through Mead in 1876, and the first house in Mead was built in 1877.
It was difficult for these families to attend church, because the nearest churches were located in Fremont and Elkhorn. This was difficult because to reach other places it was necessary to cross the Platte River and there were no bridges. For that reason, Father John Lonergan from Fremont traveled to Mead and celebrated Holy Mass in the homes of the people, and when the school building was completed he used it for services.
In 1880, the twenty-five families who established homes in Mead united their efforts in establishing a church, 70 x 45 foot at around $2000. The priests from Saint Patrick Church in Fremont continued to minister to the parish for eight years, until in 1888 Father Charles M. Browne was named pastor of Mead, Malloy Settlement and Sand Creek. But unfortunately, Father Browne could not adjust to this new environment and therefore left the diocese on January 3, 1889.
From 1889-1936, St. James was a mission of Colon with many different priests running the parish over those years. Then in 1936, the parish became a mission of Wahoo until 1949 with six different priests. And then again in 1949, the Mead parish became a mission of Colon until 1967. On April 18, 1967, Father Charles J. Keenan was appointed by Bishop Casey as the first resident pastor of Saint James Parish.
In 1949, the Altar Society was organized. Since then the members have not only cared for the altar linens and cleaned the church but they have contributed generously to improvements made in the church. In 1952, a new tabernacle and two sets of vestments were purchased, also at this time the statues were repainted and the altar was repaired. About a year later art-glass windows were installed, and a new organ was purchased. At around 1955, extensive improvements were made including excavation for a basement under the church to be used as a parish hall, remodeling and enlarging the front entrance of the church, sacristy and sanctuary, and the installation of a new furnace. That, all together, cost around $5,500, and to save money the men of the parish with the pastor, Father Robert Trausch did most of the work.
In 1982, the parish reached its climax on Pentecost Sunday, May 30, when Bishop Glennon P. Flavin celebrated a Holy Mass on the church grounds. Saint James Centennial choir and Pat Morrissey's folk group furnished the music. Bev Janecek was the organist and Mary Jamieson of Yutan was the cantor and soloist. The homily was delivered by Monsignor Charles Keenan, the first resident pastor of Mead.
Sister Bernice Morrissey is a former member of Saint James Parish. Deacon Seth Sabata, son of Bob & Becky Sabata of our parish, is a member of the Legionaries of Christ Religious Order.
Previous Pastors - Fr. Charles J. Keenan (1967-1969), Fr. Philip Rauth (1969-1980), Fr. Jim Schrader (1980-1985), Fr. Michael Christensen (1985-1995), Fr. Charles Townsend (1995-2005), Fr. Troy Schweiger (2005-2007), Fr. Jerel Scholl (2007-2010), Fr. Brian Kane (2010-2015), Fr. Mike Morin (2015-2020), Fr. Gary Gross (2020-present).