The Grotto- Saint Peter & Paul Catholic Church
It was during the administration of Father Wack that the influenza epidemic of 1918 struck the city, bringing deaths to 45 members of St. Peter and Paul's Parish. Led by Father Wack, the people made a solemn vow, promising the Blessed Mother to build a grotto, a replica of the one at Lourdes if there were no more deaths in the parish from influenza. Their petition was granted; not another parishioner died from the disease.
In fulfiilment of the vow, Father Wack went to Lourdes, returning with exact specifications for the grotto. A stone-mason, J.J. Scholz came from Nebraska to do the work. A member of the Stone-mason's Union, he received $10 a day. But the men of the parish donated their labor, and those who could not work themselves, paid others to work in their stead.
Farmers hauled the honeycomb rock from the Ferdinand Wenzel, Andreas Friesenhahn, and Richard Schumann ranches. Edmund Wenzel and Pius Friesenhahn tell how they and other young men scoured the parish and the old hospital grounds for flint rocks, then hauled them to the site to build the dome forming the back of the grotto. No dirty rock was permitted at the site. The young men hauled the stone in their wheelbarrows from the wagons that brought them from the country and cleaned them carefully before taking them to be placed for use.
Many parishioners worked all through that April, May and into June of 1921 building the grotto. The names of all those who helped were sealed in a spot in front of and below the tabernacle of the grotto.