IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CATHOLIC CHURCH


This story, in part, is excerpts from the Parish of the Immaculate Conception, 1910-1960, Winner, SD, Golden Anniversary book:
The parish of Winner was initially a missionary. When the land of Tripp County was opened to settlement, the transition from a mission to parish status followed closely the development of the surrounding country.

Father John Novak resided in Colome. He was assigned to look after the Catholics of Tripp County from 1910 to 1914. This entailed traveling the 1600 square miles of Tripp County. The priest assigned to Gregory at that time along with two trustees, J.J. Wagner, and Z Smith entered into an agreement with a contractor, John Aurin, to build a Catholic Church in Winner. The material used to build the church was hauled form Dallas, SD, by the building committee free of charge. Under Father Novak's leadership, the Church of the Immaculate Conception was dedicated on December 11, 1910. This was the first church in Winner, SD. It measured 30' by 60'. It was built on a half town block of land generously donated by the Western Townsite Company. The windows intended for the church did not arrive until after the winter. The canvas coverings put in the window cavity afforded little protection from that first bitter winter.
On June 24, 1914, Father Charles H. Virnig was appointed pastor of Immaculate Conception. Shortly after his arrival the first parish rectory was built.
The parish also built St. Mary's School in 1920. The school had student from grades one through eight The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, IA staffed the school.
Following the drought and grasshoppers of the Thirties, the economy stabilized. The population of the parish increased. A new 64'6" by 120' brick and mortar church was built by the contractor, a nephew of Fr. Virnig, Joseph B. Buechner of Mt. Horeb, WI. The first Mass was celebrated on December 18, 1949.
St. Mary's Hall was built in 1959 to meet the needs of the school for an auditorium, and the parish to have a place for events. The hall also accommodated a new convent for the Sisters.

The following priests have served Immaculate Conception Parish:
1914-1955 - Monsignor Charles Virnig.
1955-1959 - Father Robert Beckers.
1959-1969 - Father Eugene Szalay.
1969-1970 - Father J.M. Birdsall.
1970-1974 - Father Leo O'Dougherty.
1974-1985 - Father Joseph Zeller.
1985-1990 - Father Arnold Kari.
1990-1993 - Father Kerry Prendiville.
1993-1999 - Father Brian Lane.
1999-2004 - Father Leo Hausman.
2004 -Present - Monsignor Michael Woster.

Picture and information courtesy of the
Tripp County Historical Society Archives


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