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.