Joseph Hanefeldt
William Dendinger
Lawrence J. McNamara
John J. Sullivan
John L. Paschang
Edward J. Hunkeler
Stanislaus V. Bona
James A. Duffy

Most Reverend William J. Dendinger

The youngest of six children, Bishop William J. Dendinger was born May 20, 1939, to Dave and Regina Dendinger and grew up on a farm in rural Coleridge, Nebraska, just north of Wayne. He graduated with the first graduating class of Mount Michael High School in Elkhorn in 1957.

Bishop Dendinger graduated from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy in 1961. He continued his education at Aquinas Institute in Dubuque, Iowa, and received his Master of Arts degree in theology in 1964.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 29, 1965, in the Omaha Archdiocese. In 1969, he received his Master of Science degree in counseling from Creighton University in Omaha.

Bishop Dendinger taught at Petersburg and Elgin Catholic high schools, now Pope John XXIII from 1965 to 1970. Later that year Bishop Dendinger entered the military as a chaplain.

Over the next 31 years, Bishop Dendinger served as a base chaplain, cadet wing chaplain, a member of the chaplain resource board for the United States Air Force Chaplain Institute, plans and programs officer in the Office of the Air Force Chief of Chaplain Service and then chief of the Air Force Chaplain Services. He retired in 2001 as a two-star general.

Of his many duties, Bishop Dendinger said celebrating the sacraments is the most inspiring and has enjoyed seeing the changes since Vatican II with more congregation participation, evident in his position at St. Stephen the Martyr Church in Omaha. Bishop Dendinger served  as pastor there until October 2004 when he was named Bishop of the Grand Island diocese.

Bishop Dendinger was ordained as the seventh bishop of the Grand Island Diocese on December 13, 2004 at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Grand Island. Bishop Dendinger submitted his resignation on his 75th birthday, May 20, 2014.

Most Reverend Lawrence J. McNamara

Biographical Notes

Birth through Pastoral Work

Bishop Lawrence J. McNamara of Grand Island, Nebraska was born in Chicago in 1928 and died on December 17, 2004. He was a graduate of Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota, and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he earned a degree in Theology. He was ordained in May, 1953 as a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri (now Kansas City-St. Joseph). Bishop McNamara held an honorary degree of Doctor of Law from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Bishop McNamara held numerous Church and civic posts in the Kansas City area. He was a parish priest and high school teacher, Diocesan Refugee Resettlement Director, Chairman of the United Campaign Agency Executives Association, Chaplain of Jackson County Jail, President of the Kansas City Citizens' Alliance for the War on Poverty. He was also a board member of the Human Resources Commission of Kansas City, State Committee on Aging, and the Jackson County Civil Rights Commission and was Moderator of the Diocesan Family Life Bureau.

Known for His Work in Social Justice

Bishop McNamara was known for his work in reorganizing and enlarging the scope of the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. Under then Father McNamara's direction of the agency, between 1957 and 1969, its efforts expanded to include programs in job opportunity training, remedial and adult basic education, tutoring for children in both Catholic and public schools, medically related services, family enrichment and pre-Cana programs, services to the elderly and housing programs.

His agency sponsored the first Out of School Neighborhood Youth Corps Program in Kansas City. He also sponsored a community action program through the Office of Economic Opportunity to provide social work service to adolescent youth and teenage gangs, and a program for the training of unemployed adults.

Bishop McNamara was chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Charities Commission on Housing from 1969 to 1972. He was the Diocesan Director for Catholic Relief Services, the overseas aid agency of American Catholics. In the latter capacity, he was sent in 1970 on a visitation of CRS programs in west Africa. Bishop McNamara was appointed Executive Director of the Campaign for Human Development, United States Catholic Conference, in 1973 and served in that capacity for some five years.


Named by Pope Paul VI as Bishop of Grand Island, Nebraska, in January of 1978, he was ordained on March 28 of that year and has continued in that responsibility until his death.

Subsequent to his ordination as bishop, he has served as President of the National Council of Catholic Bishops' Committees for Liaison with Women Religious, The American Board of Catholic Missions, Campaign for Human Development and National Episcopal Advisor for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in the United States. In his later years, he served on the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services.

Most Reverend John J. Sullivan

John Joseph Sullivan was born in  Horton, Kansas on July 5, 1920. His family moved to Oklahoma City when he was 10.

He was ordained a priest on Sept. 23, 1944, for the Dioceses of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He served parishes in Tulsa, Guthrie and Oklahoma City. While in Guthrie, he began recruiting college students to work as volunteers among the poor, starting a life-long history of involving lay people in church ministry and service to the poor.

In 1961, he went to work for the Catholic Church Extension Society, an organization dedicated to supporting mission work in poor areas within the Church.

In 1968, Bishop Victor Reed of Oklahoma City appointed him Episcopal Vicar for Eastern Oklahoma.

Pope Paul VI appointed him bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island on July 15, 1972. Bishop Sullivan's episcopal ordination took placein Tulsa, Okla., on Sept. 19, 1972. His installation as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island was held at the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Grand Island on Sept. 21, 1972.

Priests of the Grand Island diocese who served under Bishop Sullivan called the leader a compassionate, pastoral man who had a vision for the diocese.

He was appointed bishop of Kansas City, Kan.,-St. Joseph, Mo., and took office there on Aug. 17, 1977 and served until his retirement on Sept. 9, 1993, due to the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease.

Bishop Sullivan died Feb. 11, 2001 at the Jeanne Jugan Center, a care facility run by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Kansas City, Mo.

Most Reverend John L. Paschang

[Reprinted from The West Nebraska Register April 2, 1999, Vol. 69. No. 13.]

Those who didn't know Bishop John L. Paschang were likely impressed with his longevity and distinction as the world's oldest bishop.

But those who knew him remember a kind, loving and generous man who had an unending devotion to his vocation, the people he served and, most importantly, his creator.

Bishop Paschang, 103, died Sunday, March 21, 1999, at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point, a town of 3,250 people in northeastern Nebraska.

The fourth bishop of the Grand Island diocese served from 1951 to 1972.

"What a wonderful man, priest and bishop he was," said Bishop Lawrence McNamara, who had headed the Grand Island diocese since 1978.

"I have vivid memories of his kindness, his compassion, his gentle concern for his priests and people," he said.

Bishop Paschang had held the honor of being the world's oldest bishop since June 1995-a fact verified in the Vatican yearbook, the Annuario.

Still his age-which eventually resulted in a significant hearing loss, vision problems and physical difficulties-didn't keep him from living a full life up until his final days.

Before his hospitalization in late January, Bishop Paschang said Mass each day in his room at St. Joseph's Retirement Home in West Point. He moved to an apartment there about six years ago.

A niece, Rita Goeden, cared for her uncle by reading him his daily mail, fixing meals and helping him serve Mass.

"His mind was so clear until the very end," said Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss of the Omaha archdiocese, who often visited Bishop Paschang. "He remembered so many people. He knew so much about the history of the church."

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln said Bishop Paschang's death is a loss for the not only the Grand Island diocese and state but "also for the hierarchy of the world."

"I had the joy of visiting him several times. I found Bishop Paschang to be a man of insight and intelligence," Bishop Bruskewitz said. "He was always kind and willing to share his experiences."

Father Walter Phelan, a retired priest in the Grand Island diocese, saw Bishop Paschang about six weeks ago. Although he was in the hospital and had difficulty speaking, the bishop sent his love to everyone.

"He gave me his blessing and he asked for mine. He was a tremendous man of faith and courage-a true leader, interested in everybody.

"I feel that I've lost a read close personal friend," Father Phelan added. "(But) rejoice that we have a new saint in heaven praying for us."

Bishop Paschang was known for his even temper, Father Phelan said. A priest know he was in hot water when Bishop Paschang would say, "Oh, my my, Father, dear."

"If he had any fault, that was it-he was too kind," Father Phelan said. "You could never say no to him if he asked you to do something."

Three years ago on Bishop Paschang's 100th birthday, he was flooded with cards and well-wishes from across the world. He was able to make it to a special diocesan Mass in Grand Island, and hundreds of clergy, family members and friends attended the event.

It was the largest outpouring of letters from U.S. bishops anyone could ever remember, Bishop McNamara said.

"The bishop treasured that. He read and re-read those letters."

Bishop Paschang was born on Oct. 5, 1895, on a farm near Hemingford in Western Nebraska to Casper and Gertrude Paschang.

He was educated at St. Anthony's Parochial School in St. Charles and had his classical training at Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo.

He entered St. John's Seminary at Collegeville, Minn., and was ordained to the priesthood on June 12, 1921.

Bishop Paschang was first a pastor at St. Rose's parish in Hooper until 1923 when he enrolled in the Catholic University of America at Washington, D.C.

He earned a doctorate's degree in canon law and philosophy. Then he became pastor of Omaha's Holy Cross Church in 1927, and served there until he was named bishop of the Grand Island Diocese in 1951.

In an October 1998 interview with The Register, Bishop Paschang said he was in high school when he heard the call to join the religious life.

As bishop of the diocese, he ordained 55 native men to the priesthood, approved construction of 33 churches, 15 parish houses, 13 schools, 11 parish centers, six convents, several rectories as well as four hospital additions.

He began the Damian Leper Relief Society in 1976, and also has a $125,000 scholarship fund in his name that assists seminarians at Conception Seminary College.

Bishop Paschang, who earned a stock broker's license in his earlier years to save the church money, was also known for his keen knowledge of monetary investments.

"He left the diocese in good shape, both spiritually and financially," Bishop McNamara said.

"His good stewardship has made it possible to move into the years after his administration with a very easy transition."

In addition, he left an excellent morale among priests and "a solid and family-centered spirituality throughout Central and Western Nebraska," the bishop maintained.

Father Bernard Berger of Burwell said he and seven others were ordained by Bishop Paschang in May 1964. Father Berger called him "a good bishop for priests."

He let them work to the best of their needs," Father Berger said.

Although he did not always agree with some teachings Vatican II brought about, Bishop Paschang remained firmly obedient to the Catholic Church, Father Berger contended. Bishop Paschang attended all four sessions of Vatican II, from 1965 to 1969.

"He wasn't going to let his own feelings about them stand in the way of them being implemented," Father Berger said.

Father Tom Down, a retired priests from Denver, said Vatican II was an emotionally difficult challenge for the bishop.

Still, Father Dowd echoed Father Berger's words.

"I think he was able to say yes to Vatican II because of his fidelity to the church and his solidarity to the bishops," he said.

Many remember Bishop Paschang's uncanny wit and sense of humor.

On his 100th birthday, the bishop attributed his longevity to family genetics, God's blessings, and the fact that he never had to be an assistant pastor.

"Never make them assistants," he told Bishop McNamara.

"His interest did not grow any less as the years went by. He always kept in touch," the bishop said. "He was always ready to let me share with him anything and everything that was going on in the diocese."

Survivors include one sister, Ann Peter of Columbia, Mo., and several nieces and nephews.

Three brothers and four sisters preceded Bishop Paschang in death: Frank, Joe and Father Anthony, and Wilhelmina, Dorothy, Elizabeth and Justine.

"He seemed to be quietly in the presence of God his whole life," Bishop McNamara said. "There was something about the bishop that made you feel God was in the room."

"He was a great man, great priest, great bishop," he said.

Most Reverend Edward J. Hunkeler

[Reprinted from The Nebraska Register Friday, October 9, 1970, Vol. 46, No. 41.]

Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler, third Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island and retired Archbishop of Kansas City and Kansas died at Crookston, Minn., Thursday night, Oct. 1, two days after an accident about 10 miles west of Crookston in northwestern Minnesota.

Authorities said an autopsy showed that he died from a cardiovascular respiratory condition rather than from his injuries. The attending physician said the autopsy disclosed the injuries sustained in the accident were not serious.

He was riding with Msgr. A. I. Merth, 77, of East Grand Forks, Minn., after attending the installation of Bishop Kenneth Povich at Crookston.

The Minnesota Highway Patrol said Msgr. Merth apparently lost control of his car as he passed another vehicle and went into a ditch. Msgr. Merth was reported in good condition.

Funeral services for Archbishop Hunkeler were conducted in St. Peter's cathedral in Kansas City Monday, Oct. 5. bishop John L. Paschang, who succeeded Archbishop Hunkeler as Bishop of Grand Island, was one of the concelebrants of the funeral Mass.

A more complete story of the funeral will appear in next week's issue of the Nebraska Register.

Archbishop Hunkeler was Vicar General of the Omaha diocese when he was named to the Grand Island see on March 19, 1945.

He was consecrated May 1 of that year in St. Cecilia's Cathedral, Omaha, by the Most Rev. Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States.

Co-consecrators were the Most. Rev. James H. Ryan, late bishop of Omaha, and Bishop Stanislaus Bona of Green Bay, second Bishop of Grand Island. The Most Rev. Henry P. Rohlman, Archbishop of Dubuque, was the preacher for the occasion.

Archbishop Hunkeler, the son of Anton and Philomena Durst Hunkeler, was born Jan. 1, 1894, in Medicine Lodge, Kans. His parents later moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he attended Holy Trinity school and St. Mary's institute (now incorporated into the University of Dayton).

He prepared for the priesthood in the Pontifical College Josephinum at Worthington, Ohio., and was ordained there June 14, 1919, for the Diocese of Omaha by the late Bishop James Hartley of Columbus.

His first assignment was as pastor of Sts. Philip and James' church, Wynot. In 1927 he was appointed pastor of Blessed Sacrament church in Omaha, and remained there until his appointment as rector of St. Cecilia's Cathedral, Omaha, in 1936.

He was named a Domestic Prelate in 1937 by Pope Pius XI. In 1944 he was appointed Vicar General of the Omaha diocese, and also served as a Diocesan Consultor.

On March 28, 1951, he was appointed Bishop of Kansas City in Kansas, and, when the Diocese was made an Archdiocese, he became the first Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas on Aug. 9, 1952. Archbishop Hunkeler retired as Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas on Sept. 10, 1969.

During the six years that he was Bishop of Grand Island, Archbishop Hunkeler ordained 16 young men to the priesthood, all but one for the service of the Diocese of Grand Island.

In 1949 he established Blessed Sacrament parish in Grand Island which has since become the third largest parish in the diocese, with only the Cathedral parish in Grand Island and St. Patrick's in North Platte larger.

Because Bishop Hunkeler was the Bishop of the Diocese in the years immediately following World War II, and since building had been restricted during the war, a large number of new churches and other religious institutions were built during the time he was Bishop of Grand Island.

Most Reverend Stanislaus V. Bona

[Reprinted from The Nebraska Register Friday, Dec. 8, 1967, Vol. 43 No. 50.]

The Diocese of Grand Island mourns the loss of its second Bishop, the Most Reverend Stanislaus V. Bona, Bishop of Green Bay, WI at the time of his death. Bishop Bona died Friday, Dec. 1, following a lengthy illness. Funeral services for Bishop Bona took placed in Green Bay, Wednesday, Dec. 6. Bishop John L. Paschang of Grand Island was one of the Bishops participating in the funeral ceremonies.

Bishop Bona was born in Chicago Oct. 1, 1888. He received primary education at St. Casmir's school, in the parish in which he was later pastor when named Bishop of Grand Island.

He graduated from St. Ignatius' college, Chicago in 1905, and attended the North American College in Rome, being ordained Nov. 1, 1912. On his return to the United States he was made assistant at St. Barbara's church in 1913, where he served three years.

He was then made resident chaplain of the Home of Correction, Chicago. From 1918 to 1922, he was a professor in the Quigley preparatory seminary of the Chicago Archdiocese and in 1921 made pastor of St. Casmir's parish.

Bishop Bona was consecrated in Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago Feb. 25, 1932, with His Eminence Cardinal George Mundelein of Chicago, the consecrator, and Bishop Paul Rhode of Green Bay and Bishop Francis Kelly of Winona the co-consecrators.

Bishop (now Archbishop) Bernard Sheil preached the sermon. Ten priests from the Diocese of Grand Island were able to make the then long and expensive trip to Chicago to be present for the consecration ceremonies of their new Bishop.

Father Patrick McDaid, representing the Diocese spoke at the banquet following the consecration. In his remarks he mentioned that although the Diocese was small, probably very little bigger in Catholic population than the parish Bishop Bona was leaving, and on of the least wealthy in the nation, it was proud of the fact that it had its own diocesan newspaper going into every Catholic home in the diocese every week.

Bishop Bona was installed in St. Mary's Cathedral as the second Bishop of Grand Island on a bitter cold March 8, 1932, with Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque presiding.

Other Bishops present for the installation ceremonies included Bishop James Duffy, first Bishop of Grand Island; Bp. Urban Vehr, Denver; Bp. Edward Hoban, Rockford (later Cleveland); Bp. Paul Rhode, Green Bay; Bp. Henry Rohlman, Davenport; Bp. Francis Tief, Concordia; Bp. James Griffin, Springfield; Bp. Louis Kucera, Lincoln; Bp. Joseph Rummel, Omaha; Bp. Bernard Sheil, Auxiliary of Chicago; Bp. Francis Kelly, Winona; and Bp. Bernard Mahoney, Sioux Falls.

In addition to the priests of the Grand Island Diocese and surrounding area, there were present for the installation 60 priests who had come from Chicago on a special train.

Bishop Bona came to the Diocese of Grand Island at the time when one of the worst depressions in the history of the nation was causing extreme hardships throughout the land.

In addition, the early and mid-1930s were years of a devastating drought and terrible dust storms. Many families moved from the farms and left the state.

Had it not been for help from outside the Diocese, humanly speaking, the Diocese could not have survived. The, just as financial conditions began to improve, World War II broke out.

All of these factors meant that for many years the material expansion of the Diocese was kept to a bare minimum. But the courage of the people and their devotion to the Church grew, as will be seen by the expansion which did take place when the restrictions of the war years had passed.

During World War II, with the encouragement of Bishop Bona, five priests of the Diocese served as chaplains in the Armed Forces, Fathers Joseph Bean, Albert Vifquain, Andrew McDonald, Mitchell Koprowski and L.G. Lecher.

Because of his fluency in both German and Italian, Bishop Bona personally ministered to German and Italian prisoners-of-war kept in camps in the Diocese during the war, the Germans in Grand Island itself and the Italians in Scottsbluff.

During the time that he was Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island, 30 priests were ordained for the Diocese either by Bishop Bona personally or by other Bishops.

On Dec. 2, 1944, Bishop Bona was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Green Bay (the See to which he succeeded upon the death of Bishop Paul Rhode on March 3, 1945).

Bishop Bona was also present for the consecration and installation of Bishop John L. Paschang, the fourth Bishop of Grand Island.

He also returned to the Diocese for the dedication of the new Central Catholic High School in Grand Island.

His last visit to the Diocese was on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee celebration of the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Leo Keating, vicar general of the Diocese, and Fathers Andew McDonald and Michael Szczesny, whom he had ordained to the priesthood in the cathedral on June 6, 1936.

Bishop Bona had planned to attend the Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Grand Island in September of 1962, but was prevented from doing so by the necessity of an operation.

Most Reverend James A. Duffy

[Reprinted from The Nebraska Register Friday, Feb. 16, 1968, Vol. 44, No. 8.]

Bishop James Albert Duffy, first Ordinary of the Diocese of Grand Island (originally Kearney), died in St. Joseph's infirmary in Hot Springs, Ark., Monday evening, Feb. 12.

At the time of his death, Bishop Duffy was the senior Bishop in the United States in both age and years of consecration.

Bishop Duffy, 94, is the second of the former Bishops of Grand Island to have died recently. Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona of Green Bay, Wis., the second Bishop of Grand Island, died Dec. 2, 1967. Bishop Duffy was one of a very few remaining Bishops in the entire world who had been appointed by the late Pope St. Pius X.

Funeral services for Bishop Duffy will be conducted in St. Mary's Cathedral in Grand Island Tuesday morning, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m.

Archbishop Gerald Bergan of Omaha, Archbishop Edward Hunkeler of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop John L. Paschang of Grand Island, Bishop Glennon Flavin of Lincoln, and Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Sheehan of Omaha will concelebrate the Funeral Mass.

Burial will be in Calvary cemetery in Grand Island.

Bishop Duffy was born in St. Paul, Min., April 13, 1873, to James and Joanna (Shiely) Duffy. He received his education at St. Thomas college and St. Paul seminary, both in St. Paul.

He was ordained to the priesthood may 27, 1899. Following his ordination he served as assistant at Immaculate Conception parish in Minneapolis from 1899 to 1902, when he was made pastor of St. Anne's church, LeSueur, Minn.

He resigned as pastor of St. Anne's in 1904 for reasons of health and came to Wyoming, where he was named pastor of St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne and Chancellor of the Cheyenne diocese.

In 1913 he was named the first Bishop of the Diocese of Kearney, Neb. (which had been established in 1912). He was consecrated in St. Mary's Cathedral in Cheyenne, April 16, 1913.

Archbishop J. J. Keane of Dubuque, Iowa, was the consecrator, assisted by Bishop Patrick McGovern of Cheyenne and Bishop Richard Scannell of Omaha as co-consecrators. Bishop Austin Dowling of Des Moines preached the sermon at the consecration.

In 1917 the seat of the diocese was transferred to Grand Island. During the years that Bishop Duffy served as head of the diocese, the beautiful St. Mary's Cathedral was built (1926-28) and consecrated by Cardinal Patrick Hayes of New York.

It was under Bishop Duffy that the Nebraska Register (now The West Nebraska Register) was established as the second of the diocesan editions of the Register system.

In May of 1931, ill health brought about the resignation of Bishop Duffy. The Holy Father named him Titular Bishop of Silando.

He continued to serve as Administrator of the diocese until the installation of the second Bishop of Grand Island, Bishop Stanislaus Bona, in March, 1932. Bishop Duffy then retired to St. Joseph's infirmary in Hot Springs, Ark., where he served as chaplain until 1964.