The tiny congregation of Holy Family Catholic Church will merge with another parish this spring, but its bighearted work will continue.

The church, at 17th and Izard Streets, is merging with St. Frances Cabrini at 10th and William Streets. Deacon Al Aulner of Holy Family said the last Sunday service there will be April 19. The congregation has about 40 members, he said.

Holy Family is known for its service to the poor. For more than 30 years, those in need have been able to come to its doors for sack lunches, clothing, mittens, toiletries and similar personal items. Its congregation also collects food from grocery stores to distribute to food pantries.

That work will continue and expand through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Omaha, which moved its administrative headquarters to the building last year.

“They’ll continue what we’re doing and enhance it,” Aulner said. “There will actually be more services for the poor.”

Deacon Marty Smith, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul, said the society will continue the sack lunch and clothing ministry and grocery collection/redistribution. The building will also be available to groups such as Heart Ministries and Together Inc. Those groups can provide professional services to the needy beyond those that a volunteer group such as St. Vincent de Paul can, he said.

Among other things, the building will be a site for government benefits screening, job search services, income tax assistance, Bridges out of Poverty classes, cooking and nutrition classes, and access to the performing arts for the working poor.

St. Vincent de Paul is a lay organization within Catholic churches. In Omaha, there are 700 members in the 34 parish-based chapters.

Holy Family is believed to be the oldest Catholic church building in Omaha, Smith said. Its cornerstone was laid in 1883.

Aulner said the building is the last of its type in Omaha. The ground floor served as a school, and the sanctuary is on the second floor.

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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Phone: 402-444-1102.

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