Parish History

A horse farm occupied the 14 acres of land where St. Robert’s complex now stands. As the population of Omaha was expanding at the western edge of the city during the 1960’s, Archbishop Gerald T. Bergen and Chancellor and Bishop Daniel E. Sheehan deemed that a new parish was necessary.

On June 9, 1966, Fr. Eugene H. Kerwin became pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish. The first parish Mass was celebrated ten days later in the gymnasium at nearby Crestridge School. A house on Leavenworth Street was purchased in July for a rectory. Daily Mass was offered in a basement chapel, and the first census counted 425 registered families.

Fr. Kerwin set a parish goal of providing Catholic education, beginning the high school CCD program on September 14 and the elementary program on October 1.

The Ladies Guild became the first permanent parish organization when a get-acquainted tea was held at Mary Our Queen parish on May 7, 1967. Groundbreaking for our new building followed on May 13 (then the feast day of St. Robert Bellarmine). Mass was celebrated in the new temporary church for the first time on Palm Sunday, April 7, 1968. St. Robert Bellarmine School officially opened on September 3, 1968 with Sister Dolotita Reandeau O.S.F. as principal. Dedication of the facility took place on October 20, 1968.

A harsh winter in 1978 slowed construction of the main church building. The priests were able to move into the new rectory the following June and an all-school Mass was celebrated on September 27, 1979, making this the first Mass in the new church building.

Through the 1980’s and 1990’s, the parish continued to grow both in numbers and spiritual vitality. After many faithful years as pastor, Fr. Kerwin opted for retirement in 1997, though he remained close to the parish for the rest of his life. Msgr. Blasé J. Cupich was appointed as second pastor on June 25, 1997. However, his evident gifts of shepherding and administration soon resulted in his appointment as Bishop of Rapid City on July 6, 1998.

Fr. Donald W. Shane was installed as St. Robert’s third pastor on September 13, 1998. No stranger to the parish, his parents had been founding members of St. Robert’s and his priestly ordination on September 13, 1969 had been a first for the parish.

Through the generosity of a parish family, a major renovation of the church and adjoining complex began with ground breaking on May 27, 2000. The James T. Mainelli Parish Center was constructed as well as a number of new meeting rooms, new office space, school remodeling, and a new gym. Following the completion of the first phase, a Church Renovation Campaign was undertaken. In 2005, after some 26 years, parishioners again found themselves celebrating Mass in the old gym while the church was remodeled. Church renovation included a new pipe organ, new pews and décor, and a welcoming narthex. Additionally, a beautiful Adoration Chapel was built through generous gift from another parish family.

Renovation drew to a celebratory close with the solemn consecration of the new altar by Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss on April 5, 2006. A special gift to the occasion was the presence of Msgr. Eugene Kerwin, founding pastor of St. Robert’s.

On September 13, 2009, the parish joyously gathered at Mass with Fr. Shane to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. All expressed gratitude for his continued faithfulness and years of service. After fourteen years of service to St. Robert's, Fr. Shane retired on June 21, 2012.

In June 2012, Fr. Steven Stillmunks was installed as the fourth pastor at St. Robert's. He was warmly welcomed as our new shepherd in the faith of the parish.