1950: Lincoln Air Force Base Provides a Boon in Parish Families

In the ten years since the disastrous Depression had reduced the number of parish families to 25, St. Patrick achieved the status of a thriving parish once again. The number of families climbed to 125 by 1947, and remained there until a major event changed life for the parish in 1950. The Lincoln Air Force base was reactivated, and with it came a spurt in the population of northeast Lincoln and consequently in the number of faithful in St. Patrick’s parish as well. In July of 1951, another major change occurred: the parish lost its much-loved pastor, Father Godfey Piontkowski. He had worked hard to put the parish on its feet again, and the effort took its toll on his health. He was transferred to Jordan, Minnesota, and Father Paschal Rollman, OFM, succeeded him almost immediately. To this day, those who remember Fr. Godfrey speak of him fondly for his successful leadership at St. Patrick.

The early 50s saw much growth in St. Patrick’s parish. The reactivation of the Lincoln Air Force base in 1950 initiated a sharp rise in numbers, and that increase in numbers would eventually bring about some needed changes in the parish. The number of parish families grew from 125 in 1951 to 400 families in 1954. School enrollment grew too, from 66 in 1951 to 138 in 1954. To ease overcrowding in the classrooms above the church, several classrooms were constructed in the church basement. A newspaper article dated August 26, 1955 says that two classrooms had been added in the church hall and that the stage area would be used as a dining room for the students. There would be no Christmas program that year.