St. Patrick’s Church in Seneca

For six days of the week the Scheckel family worked the Oak Grove farm outside of Seneca in the heart of Crawford County. But Sundays were reserved for church and rest. Except for doing the farm chores, we never worked on Sunday.

St. Patrick’s Church was dedicated on October 25, 1874. When we moved to the Seneca farm in 1945, Father William Mooney was the pastor and said to be a very reverent priest. I recall talk of building a new church and Catholic school in the late 1940s. The sides of the church were bulging out, and it was in danger of collapsing.

The bulging wall problem was solved by Peter Nelson Construction Company from La Crosse. They came and used big turnbuckles to pull the sides back together. They also put in a new furnace, a basement meeting room, and new toilets.

A big statue of St. Patrick was inside the church. Later it was moved outside, where it remains today. The main altar was large and extremely ornate. There were two side altars: the Blessed Virgin Mary on the left side and St. Joseph on the right. Fourteen Stations of the Cross, seven on each side, were dioramas depicting the crucifixion of Jesus. Stained-glass windows adorned the sides of the church, including the altar or sanctuary area. The donors’ names for the windows were inscribed below the stained glass.

The entrance to St. Patrick’s Church had massive doors that closed toward each other. A left turn in the vestibule led to the steps to the choir. The rope that rang the church bell hung near the steps.

Altar boys had the great thrill of getting to ring the church bell. It took a minimum of two boys to do the job. Phillip and I would jump as high as we could to grab the rope and ride that rope down. The weight of sixth-grade boy and a fifth-grade boy was just enough to get the massive bell ringing.


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