Personal Glimpse | 125 Year Chronology
In the year 1838, Rev. Thomas Morrissey, an itinerant Catholic priest,
traveled up and down the Indian trails within an area now known as
southeastern Wisconsin. He ministered to the early settlers in this newly
found land of promise.
Following an illness, he
passed away in a little settlement, now Burlington. A stunned community, left
without spiritual guidance, asked itself “now what?” Winter was lying heavy
with deep snow and bitter cold. Under these severe conditions of the
wilderness, two men walked to Milwaukee to the office of the Hierarchy for
instructions as to the disposition of the remains of Fr. Morrissey. The word
was “just keep cool – put the good Padre on ice until spring, when improved
weather conditions will permit a proper burial.” Such was life (or death) on
In the year 1842, at the
corner of Wisconsin and Fifth Streets, Fr. Martin Kundig established a church
dedicated to the memory of St. Luke. Three years later it was moved to the
corner of Eighth and Lake. It was enlarged and the name changed to St.
Ignatius. It was a parish of mixed nationalities, those of German descent in
the majority. This group banded together and built St. Mary’s Church which
was dedicated by Bishop Henni on August 15, 1853.
The Irish, seeing what
the Germans had accomplished, also became active. They came over to the north
side and purchased property on Douglas Avenue. In 1856 the cornerstone was
laid and St. Patrick’s Church was dedicated on September 1, 1861. Going into
1862, we find Fr. Sailer pastor at St. Mary’s and Fr. Gibson at St.
Patrick’s. St. Ignatius was closed due to lack of support.
Purchase Three Lots
Following the dedication of St. Patrick’s, the
German speaking people on the north side decided that they, too, should
establish a parish. Consequently on April 30, 1862, three lots were purchased
on the southeast corner of St. Patrick and Erie Streets. It is interesting to
note tha6t this property marks the northwest corner of the “original plat of
Racine” as established by Guilbert Knapp, the founder of Racine, when he
staked out his claim in 1834. On November 15, 1867, this property was deeded
to John Martin Henni, Bishop of Milwaukee.
A school was built in
1868. All class work came to an abrupt end when the school was destroyed by
fire in 1869.
Fr. Birkhaeuser new was
pastor at St. Mary’s. He recognized the plight of the north-siders and with
his able assistance, a new two-story school was erected. It was ready for
occupancy by the end of 1870. Classes and church services were held in the
school on weekdays, but on Sunday all went to church at St. Mary’s.
It will be noted that
during periods of open water, it was necessary to ferry across the river. The
cost was a penny per-person per-ride. Of course, during cold weather the
river was frozen over and a walk across spared the ferry expense. Speculation
has it that a number of those “pennies saved” found their way into the
collection box. In those days, taking up a collection amounted to pennyante.
In 1873 Fr. Birkhaeuser
was transferred to St. Francis. This created a dilemma for the northsiders
but it was brief. Being intrepid they rallied their forces, drew up plans and
went to work. The corner stone for the new church was laid on May 12, 1875.
On November 17, Fr. Michael Beiter became the first pastor and the church was
dedicated on Christmas, 1876. It was named St, Joseph’s
The church did not have
a sanctuary or steeple. A simple cupola stood at the highest point of
exterior adornment. One of our old-timers had said that if the second floor
were removed down to the sub-floor, we would see inscribed thereon the design
or from for the Gothic arches of the ceiling. The arches were built around
this design or form and hoisted into position via the gin pole method.
In those days, the
pulpit occupied a prominent position in our church’s architecture. It stood
along the north all where the first station is presently located. It was
supported by a very ornate pillar and topped by an elegant, carved canopy. At
a later date, the canopy and pillar were removed and a confessional became a
permanent part of the pulpit structure.
Legend has it that the
fire and brimstone pouring from this vaunted position caused the most stalwart
to tremble. Many an ear became chafed by searing predictions of things to
come as a result of derelict activity. From this position of authority, the
orator could look down on his parishioners and note with subtle disdain those
nonchalant members trying to settle for a nodding acquaintance. But woe
betide the nodder. A sudden, dazzling flash of brimstone followed by a
devastating clap of thunder would snap him to attention.
In April, 1877, Fr.
Victor became the new pastor. His tenure, however, was short, being succeeded
by Fr. A. Foeckler in August of the same year. The Dominican Sisters now took
charge of the school, relieving secular teachers.
Late in the afternoon of May 18, 1883, a
cyclone came roaring out of the southwest aimed directly at St. Joseph’s. The
cupola was torn loose and dashed into a pile of wreckage on the northeast
corner of St. Patrick and Wisconsin Streets.
Following this disaster,
a new steeple was erected, compete with bells and clock. A new organ was
installed at a cost of $3,600. John Broecker was the first organist. Two
years later a large sanctuary was added to he church and a beautiful rectory
rounded out the list of capital improvements.
Fr. Foeckler passed on
in November, 1889. At this stage of its energetic career, St. Joseph’s had
only $1,900 in debts. Fr. Fessler became the successor and further
improvements in the church saw the installation of steam heat to replace the
old church stoves.
adjacent to our property, were purchased for a young men’s club. In 1894, the
clubhouse burned and the land was sold.
Illness compelled Fr.
Fessler to resign in October, 1892. On December 15, Fr. Friedl arrived to
carry on. In May, 1894, he, too, became suddenly and seriously ill and was
forced to resign. Fr. John M. Bach served as the interim pastor until August
1st, when Fr. Frantz arrived.
At this time, the high
altar and the two side altars further added to the dignity of the church.
In 1897, the school was
enlarged and an auditorium added upstairs at a cost of $8,000.
In 1899, gas light
replaced the old kerosene lamps in the church, school and rectory.
The old well was given
second rating in 1900 when city water and hot water heat were installed in the
A new Sisters’ convent
was erected in 1906 at a cost of $4,270. Prior to 1906, the kids “just left
school” after completing the seventh grade. During the 1905-1906 school year,
the eighth grade was added under the able guidanc34 of Sr. Clara. As a
consequence, St. Joseph’s had its first graduating class in 1906 – six girls
and one boy.
Fr. Frantz passed away
August 15, 1914. Fr. Kirsten became his successor with Fr. Biwer as
Side Doors Installed
The two side doors
were now installed at the church. A new slate roof cost $1,350 and new
windows $2,300. Fr. Biwer was replaced by Fr. Stier. Fr. Kersten died of a
heart seizure while waiting for a streetcar.
Fr. Heder arrived on
February 1, 1915. His regime introduced the new stations and electric lights
in the rectory. Boilers do not last forever. Ours went haywire and one from
the Miller Shoe Company replaced the old one. Illness compelled Fr. Heder to
resign the pastorate on September 30, 1916.
Fr. John M. Bach arrived
on October 1, 1916. During this year we also switched to electric light in
On February 3, 1917, a
solemn Triduum introduced the Holy Name Society. December 2, 1917, noted Pete
Schuster’s first payday as custodian.
The property north of
the church was purchased in 1920. Pew rent and reserved seats were abolished
In 1924, the Carrara
marble altar rail replaced a gem made of wood and handcarved. In 1925, St.
Joseph’s observed a Golden Jubilee on October 18th.
By the late twenties our
school, as a building, commenced to fall into disfavor. It was becoming
outdated, its facilities inadequate, and it presented a fire hazard.
Consequently, it fell before the heavy ax of condemnation. We had no
alternative and at a parish meeting held January 13, 1929, the decision to
build a new school was written into the pages of parish history.
Before having it pass
from view, a few moments in retrospect with the old building will ease the
sorrow of parting.
The old school was a
two-story, narrow, west-to-east brick structure, placed midway between our
church and St. John’s property. This set-up provided a playground between the
church and school for the girls and the area south of the school for the
boys. What a contrast in recreation! The girls confined their activities to
jacks and ball, jumping rope, hopscotch, clap in and clap out and face tag.
The boys resorted to baseball, playing chase – using real leather harness
lines – crack-the-whip, etc. The Sisters invariably campaigned for strictly
feminine activity among the girls. The mild-mannered Sr. Hilary always came
through with the reminder that the Blessed Virgin would cry if the girls
played ball. But for a marked contrast in personality and real excitement,
all one had to do would be to wait for Sr. Corona to “come up to bat.” Wow!
A real gem is the
following never-to-be-forgotten classic. A family named Stoffel resided in a
house on the west side of Erie Street opposite the boys’ playground. The
glass companies did a pretty god business with the Stoffel residence. If you,
dear reader, can hum a little, try doing so to the tune of “It Ain’t Gonna
Rain No More.” Here are the words: “A baseball sailing through the air
Whizzed ‘cross the street a hummin’; The center fielder hollered “RUN” when he
saw ol’ man Stoffel comin’.”
But, Alas! It did rain
some more. The rain was the flood of a vociferous tirade as the stormy Sr.
Stoffel blew his top. The pastor of the day or the head sister would be sure
to find himself or herself at the peace table playing the role of claim
adjustor. Fortunately, however, no one ever went to jail. Mr. Stoffel never
sued for damages; what he needed was repairs. And so it went. Some of the
boys got into trouble and some of the girls sent to the convent.
Each winter saw a good old snowball fight between the Catholics and the
Lutherans. The calm and quiet of a winter day would suddenly be disturbed
when a snowball would casually lob into enemy territory. Just a trial
balloon!! It could come from either side. Both had the “atomic bomb."
Hostilities would cease and quiet restored only after one side or the other
would be driven back into the shelter of its own respective school.
Casualties?? Well, maybe a window or two.
The new school was quite
something for the era. Bright, cheery classrooms, a kitchen and dining room.
“Good Heavens! Even a gym!” Here’s where the old-timer stroked his beard.
It was wonderful. Modest but equal to the demands of a changing world.
Within the bonds of limitation and capability, it was a product of vision.
Everyone was happy. Many a mother endorsed the new school as a picnic.
But the shades of night
were commencing to fall on a balmy day of prosperity. Shadows were
lengthening. Many a dream on the horizon of hope was moving out of focus in
the bewildering twilight of recession. Naturally, this was frustrating. All
obligations associated with indebtedness called for recognition. Industry
could shut down, commerce could be curtailed. But St, Joseph’s was a beating
heart in a community dependent for its life blood on the now unemployed and
In 1931, we recorded a
mortgage of $118,766.10. The only comforting feature, however, was the
thought that the nature of our problem was widespread. It wasn’t “just US.”
The gray skies of
depression continued to hang around. This was more than just a three-day
Fr. Bach moved to St.
Thomas at Waterford, and in a later assignment became resident chaplain at a
Senior citizens’ Home in Milwaukee.
Lights are dimmed on a
quiet gathering at St. Joseph’s. In this moment of tense expectation, the
curtain on the stage of Destiny is parted and a man steps into view. A
well-built man. He radiates an aura of confidence and strength. His first
words are a calm, subtle plea for acceptance: “Blessed is he who comes in the
name of the Lord.” The strange man is Fr. Henry J. Schmitt.
Sr. Schmitt moved about
slowly, cautiously. He recognized a problem. Much of the hard earned cash
was going down the drain as interest. He soon found a number of parishioners
ready and willing to forego any return on their savings. These savings would
be loaned to the parish without interest. The money saved would help reduce
the debt. Fantastic!
This fortunate episode
was among the first in a long chain of ambitious events, enabling us to arrive
at a point where we could start to live again.
By the mid 1930’s,
people were becoming handcuffed and shackled by the forces of depression. To
counter this confinement and promote some old-fashioned togetherness among
parishioners, a family parish picnic was enjoyed at the George Schliesmann
farm. What a day and what a crowd! Boys and girls, men and women, ran
themselves ragged. By nightfall, all were enjoying (or suffering) one thing
in common – all were pooped! But this was happiness. This was togetherness.
This was St. Joseph’s. The event encouraged further participation in parish
social life. When unable to do other things, parishioners came to the school
to talk and play and sing and work and pull together. This is the spirit that
will not be denied. There was always something doing. The rolling stones
gathered no moss. Ice cream socials, theatrical plays, card parties, style
shows, bake sales, bazaars, festivals, raffles, bingo.. Rarely was money given
for prizes. Donated merchandise was used for that purpose. Activity revolved
around the social aspect. Consequently, in 1937, the first mortgage was
This was a result of a good overseer. Lest we forget, for a long period
during St. Joseph’s financial crisis, our pastor did not take a salary.
To interrupt the
activity of an illustrious career, Fr. Schmitt suffered a light stroke.
Improvement was normal and positive. Caution, however, became a watchword in
the back of his mind. This was fine with all who knew him. The heavy lifting
was finished and now he was entitled to coast. Further deference prompted the
assignment of a second assistant to help alleviate the pressure.
History recorded another
momentous occasion for jubilation. As a reward for dedication and outstanding
achievement, Fr. Schmitt was elevated to the rank of Monsignor. Henceforth,
in courteous regard for his rank, all references to tour leader were title
“The Monsignor” or Monsignor Schmitt.” St. Joseph’s was to be congratulated.
Again it had a winner.
In the year 1950, St.
Joseph’s celebrated its Diamond Jubilee. Much preparation was undertaken to
mark this event. The choir loft was given a facelift, the pulpit removed and
the church redecorated. New confessionals became a permanent part of the
church structure. The main and the two side entrances were transformed. It
will be remembered the exterior steps were hazardous, especially in winter. A
new floor presented a bright side to one bowing his head. New pews replaced
those becoming creaky with age. The kids complained that the old kneelers had
“nails in ‘em.” They, too, were removed. The contractual estimate was
upwards of $26,000. But by now we could afford it, and the dressed up
appearance gave one a confidence experienced when sporting a new hat.
By 1958, enrollment in
the school was sufficient to tax normal facilities. To relieve congestion,
the Boy Scout room was transformed into a classroom for first grade pupils.
Cost of this operation was $3,748. A little later, another classroom was
arranged in the cafeteria. This project with an addition to the rectory
resulted in an outlay of $5,144.
Concern was frequently
expressed for the Sisters and their crowded convent which required much modern
improvement. Property at the southwest corner of St. Patrick and Erie Streets
was contemplated with an eye for something nice for the Sisters. The land
held an occupied home and time was consumed ironing out the wrinkles before
purchase of the property was finally consummated. By the time the house was
vacated and razed, much had suddenly occurred to alter the way of convent
life. Sisters were abdicating to pursue other ways of endeavor. Many Sisters
were leaving the convent as a home and were taking up residence in
apartments. Fewer girls were entering the convent. Many lay teachers were
taking over in the schools. It seemed that in our apparent procrastination to
start building, the hand of intervention was working for us.
About this time, the
two-story brick building north of the church was razed. For many years it
housed the John Chobanian shoe repair shop.
Parish Grieves Loss
In 1967, Monsignor Schmitt
suddenly passed away. Fate closed the curtain on an outstanding personality.
We were all visibly shaken. We sorrowed in thought that we had to give him
up, but happy that we had him to give. In passing we bade min au revoir but
Fr. James Schlaffer
assumed the pastorate following the death of the Monsignor. The parish status
quo was maintained. Parishioners enjoyed Fr. Schlaffer’s sermons as being
short and sweet. His tenure as pastor was of short duration because of his
assignment to the newly-established St. Monica’s home for senior citizens.
Fr. Erwin Mogilka,
pastor, and Fr. Gerald Brittain, curate, appeared as the new team at St.
Joseph’s Their outgoing way of life immediately created much friendship and
soon they were referred to as Fr. Erv and Fr. Jerry. Fr. Erv soon recognized
St. Joseph’s needs. His first project was the remodeling of the Sisters’
convent. His concern for the Sisters’ welfare was a follow-through from the
point where our efforts came to a measured halt just prior to the Monsignor’s
death. Through Fr. Erv’s efforts and direction, with the able assistance of
the talented craftsmen in the parish, the convent was transformed into a
beautiful, practical, modern residence.
And then the church. Al
necessary scaffolding equipment was secure. It was erected by capable parish
personnel. Steeple jacks from the parish went to work with buckets and
brushed. These boys didn’t fool around; they started right in at the top.
The marble altar rail was removed and partially reinstalled between the
sanctuary and the main body of the church. The side altars were removed,
although the walled ornamentation above, slightly altered, remained. The
beautiful new altar facing the congregation is the product of imagination and
skill. A sound system and new sanctuary carpeting rounded out this extensive
project. So there you are! A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Remodeled
for less than $2,000.
Folks who have read the
“Good Book” scratched their heads with the comment, “Fr. Erv’s the one who can
tear the temple down and in three days put is together again.” Witness his
and the crew’s activity at the rectory. A complete remodeling job involving
the combined talents of all crafts represented in the parish. Plans for a new
building were folded away. The old home was new again.
Yes, the school was next
in line for a facelift. Environmental changes in the dining room, a new,
up-to-date kitchen evoked universal acclaim. Here an up, there a down, here a
change, there a change; here a problem, there an answer. Again, imagination
and concentrated effort gave the school a rating above par excellence.
In the meantime, Fr. Erv
celebrated his Silver Anniversary. A quarter of a century of hard work,
always capped by success. He had hitched his wagon to a star.
The national economy was
rolling right along. People were prosperous and happy. Our parish roster was
growing. Finances presented no problem, because the family of St. Joseph gave
in labor, time and skills. Our reputation was maintained in the wake of all
papal, national and archdiocesan appeals.
On this, our centennial,
St. Joseph’s finds itself an honored and respected society.
Peering through the mist
across the vale of time, a philosophical view of St. Joseph’s history brings
much spiritual satisfaction to the soul. In observing the unfolding of drama
at St. Joseph’s, one finds himself first of all in an atmosphere of awesome
reverie. Look at those mental giants:
VISION – ENTHUSIASM – IMAGINATION – COURAGE – DETERMINATION.
In the face of hardship
or reversal, one sees the emergence of growth, something new, bigger, better.
Again and again, one observes the twin team of challenge and determination
making itself known and heard.
Following the cyclone in
1883, we saw the determination of St. Joseph’s courageously challenging Fate,
“Take the old cupola – we’ll build a new steeple to the skies taller and
better.” And so it was.
New! Change! Growth!
That is the order in the great cosmic plan. God does not repeat Himself.
“Tis said, no two snowflakes are alike, no two leaves the same, no two people
alike but we are all one in the great plan life. Our life is God. God has
given us life in order that He might express Himself through us. We are one
with our ancestors. St. Joseph’s is God’s expression through our ancestors
Return to Top
125 YEARS [1975-2000]
A 125-Year Chronology:
Some of the highlights of
our 125-year history at St. Joseph’s.
The Right Reverend Bishop John
Martin Henni assists in laying the corner stone for St. Joseph’s Church on May
Rev. MMichael Beiter is
named St. Joseph’s first resident pastor on November 17. He occupies a small
house on the site of the present rectory.
Under Rev. Beiter’s direction, the church is completed and dedicated on
Christmas Day with the celebration of its first Holy Mass.
Rev. S. Victor succeeds Rev. Beiter as pastor on April 17.
St. Joseph’s first church
organ is purchased for $3600.
Rev. Anthony Foeckler
succeeds Rev. Victor in August. Rev. Foeckler’s administration sees the
establishment of the church tower, which replaced the cyclone-damaged cupola, a
set of three-belled chimes purchased from the old Milwaukee courthouse, and a
Four Sisters of St.
Dominic appointed to St. Joseph’s School.
A sacristy is added to the church and the present rectory is built.
St. Joseph’s parish lists 111 members.
Rev. Charles Fessler
succeeds Rev. Foeckler.
The church and school are
provided with steam heating apparatus.
Rev. Fessler resigns the pastorate
in October because of ill health. During the next two months the church is
served by two Capuchin Fathers from Milwaukee: P. Cyrillus and P. Bernardus.
The Most Reverend F.X.
Katzer, Archbishop of Milwaukee, appoints Rev. John Friedl to St. Joseph’s on
Rev. John M. Bach is appointed by Archbishop Katzer to take charge of the parish
until a successor is appointed for Rev. Friedl, who had become seriously ill in
Rev. William Joseph Frantz
is appointed to the pastorate at St. Joseph’s on August 1. During his tenure he
directs the purchase of the High Altar and the two side altars and a
confessional from the Art Institute at St. Francis.
St. Joseph’s School is expanded to include an “entertainment” auditorium on the
second floor at a cost of $8000.
Old-fashioned kerosene lamps in the
church, school and rectory are replaced with modern gas lighting.
City water and a hot water hearing plant are introduced into the rectory.
A pew rent system is submitted to the Chancery on April 6, of which the
following is a partial quotation: “All members of the congregation who have
pews in the church are obliged to occupy their respective pews in Early Mass and
High Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Those acting contrary to this rule, i.e.,
those who have rented pews and still intrude into the pews of others, shall be
fined 10 cents for every transgression.”
A new house for the Sisters is
Fr. Frantz resigns because of poor
health, and is succeeded by Fr. Norbert Kersten as pastor with Fr. Anthony C.
Biwer as the first assistant at St. Joseph’s.
Fr. Kersten directs the
installation of two side doors in the front of the church. Up to this time
there was only the center entry. At this time also, a new slate roof is added,
new windows are installed and the interior church is redecorated.
Fr. Wendelin J. Heder is appointed
by Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer as pastor of St. Joseph’s after Fr. Kessler’s
sudden death on December 7, 1914.
Stations of the Cross are
installed in the church.
On September 30, Fr. Heder resigns
because of ill health. Archbishop Messmer appoints Fr. John Bach to the
pastorate of St. Joseph’s on October 1.
Holy Name Society is organized on
February 3. Parish debt in December amounts to $5119. Father Bach takes a
personal canvass of the entire parish to discuss procedures for collecting money
and to determine what language parishioners wish to use in the church. Some 95%
of parishioners favor the English language, which becomes the official language
at St. Joseph’s
Electric lighting is
introduced to the church, the altars are regilded and the statues redecorated.
The present playground is purchased
on July 27 for $23,000 with the intention of building a much needed high
school. (In 1924, the Dominican Sisters opened St. Catherine’s High School,
obviating the need for building a Catholic High School at St. Joseph’s)
At a full parish meeting on January
2, it is decided, after much deliberation, to abolish the old pew rent system
and reserved seating system. These are replaced with a new finance system and a
democratic seating system.
A Carrara marble altar railing is
installed in the church.
St. Joseph’s Parish celebrates its
Golden Jubilee. There are 280 families in the parish. One this occasion, Fr.
Bach, pastor, writes: “In view of this record and of the fact that all our
debts are paid, it appears that we owe thanks to our pioneers and to their
successors, and on the Golden Anniversary Jubilee Day to bow our heads and lift
up our hearts in unspeakable gratitude to almighty God for the immeasurable
blessings so lavishly showered upon the people of this community during the last
Fr. Bach introduces the “Envelope
System” and begins a school fund.
A financial Statement for the year
ending 1928 reads: “You will remember that at the last parish meeting at the
beginning of the year 1928 it was agreed that … all members who are in any way
able were supposed to double their subscriptions in favor of a school fund.”
The year receipts total
Current school is built at a cost of $135,000. Financial Statement shows loans
on notes of $127,000.
Fr. Bach resigns the pastorate on November 15 because of poor health. Fr.
Herbert Waldkirch serves as acting pastor.
Rev. Henry J. Schmitt is appointed
pastor of St. Joseph’s on April 11 by Archbishop Samuel Stritch.
Parish indebtedness nears
$140,000. A new system of envelope collection begins. “Everyone aged 18 or
older will be expected to drop an envelope, even visitors will be handed an
envelope by the usher. We feel this allows more liberty than door money and at
the same time gives the pastor a way of checking his church supporters.”
Since the building of the school, nearly $100,000 is paid off on the parish
debt. About $80,000 in interest remains to be paid.
Fr. Schmitt celebrates his Silver
Jubilee on June 23.
Fathers from Milwaukee, P.
Cyrillus and P. Bernardus.
Nine hundred Holy Name Society men
from 296 parishes of the Archdiocese attend Mass at St. Joseph’s Church, which
is celebrated by the Most Reverend Moses E. Kiley.
Item: Parish Bulletin – July 22
“This morning we were able to record a fact toward which we have been working
for years. We have now sufficient funds to meet the last of our notes. St.
Joseph’s is out of debt. This was incurred by building of the new school.”
Blacktopping and fencing of the playground is completed.
A new garage for Assistant Priests
is erected with the help of parishioners on September 13.
Religion classes for
parish children attending public schools are introduced in September.
St. Joseph’s Ushers Club is formed.
New loudspeakers are installed in the church. Confessionals are recessed into
St. Joseph’s Church celebrates it
Diamond Jubilee. Major renovations are made to the church.
Fr. Schmitt is elevated to rank of
An 11:45 a.m. Sunday Mass is
provided for those who prefer a late Mass.
St. Joseph’s School enrollment
reaches record 544 students.
Girl students begin wearing uniforms.
Parish purchases an automobile for the Sisters’ use.
Demonstration of the
English Mass is given at St. Joseph’s for the priests of Racine.
For the first time, Mass
is celebrated facing the congregation.
Commentators assist the celebrant.
New altar and carpeting
celebrates his Golden Jubilee.
Monsignor Schmitt passes away on
August 27. Archbishop William E. Cousins appoints Fr. James Schlaffer to the
pastorate of St. Joseph’s.
Sisters are given option to retain habits or wear civilian clothing.
Fr. Erwin E. Mogilka is appointed in
June to the pastorate of St. Joseph’s by Archbishop Cousins, replacing Sr.
Schlaffer who is assigned resident chaplain at St. Monica’s Home. Fr. Gerald
Brittain is appointed Associate Pastor.
Sisters’ convent and
school classrooms are remodeled.
Church interior is
remodeled and painted by members of the parish. The steeple is re-roofed and
the clock and bells electrified.
Work begins on
refurbishing and expanding the rectory, again through the industriousness of
Graduating class of 1922 celebrates
its 50th anniversary of graduation from St. Joseph’s School. A new
Gymnasium is remodeled and shower
rooms are updated. The third floor of the Sisters’ Convent is converted to
Major renovation of the school hall
and kitchen begins. Modernization of cafeteria, kitchen, lower corridor and
heating plant is completed at a cost of $68,000.
Record 1,000 families now
make up the St. Joseph’s Family.
Parish celebrates 100th
Church expands with
additions alongside the sanctuary, which now accommodate our disabled and
parents with young children. The rectory (now Parish Center) is thereby
connected to the church.
After 7 years service, Fr. Gerald W.
Brittain is reassigned as associate pastor to St. Mary Parish, Kenosha, and Fr.
Richard J. Talaska becomes our new associate. Prophetically, a pending shortage
of priests begins to be discussed in Racine and our Archdiocese.
Rembert G. Weakland, OSB, becomes
Milwaukee’s ninth Archbishop.
The decorative woodwork
enclosures for the new rooms alongside our sanctuary are installed.
Our mother parish and Racine’s then
oldest, St. Mary’s, moves from downtown to its present location near the lake in
the Crestview area of Caledonia. The former St. Mary’s becomes Cristo Rey
Parish, with a special ministry to Hispanic Catholics.
Our pipe organ is
electrified and a new console installed.
The connecting lobby
between church and school for additional office space is completed.
Fresh concrete poured in front of
church is guarded overnight by Kurt and Linda Yust on the eve of their wedding.
Sr. Rose Marie has her 50th
Anniversary of vows.
Church steeple receives necessary repairs. The construction of an additional
1200 sq. ft. of multi-use space to school and church facilities relieves
Fr. Richard Talaska is
assigned to the pastorate of St. Casimir’s, Kenosha. Fr. Gerald McAdams is
assigned as new associate with Fr. Erv, who begins to suffer heart problems this
St. Joseph’s participates in the
confirms here for the first time.
Fr. Erv has heart surgery.
Bernadette Myers, our church
organist for 35 years, retires. Catherine Lofy becomes our new organist.
Sr. Helen Brower has her
50th Anniversary of vows.
Ceiling fans are added to
the church and four new garages are built to replace those vandalized by fire.
Fr. Isidore Dixon, OCD,
becomes our new associate pastor when Fr. McAdams is reassigned.
Charles T. Cooper replaces
Sr. Dorothy Ann as school principal, freeing her to serve as Parish Secretary.
Our present small parking lot is cleared and fenced in as a playground space for
Chandeliers are added to
our church entryways, our roof and drainage systems are repaired, and computers
make their first appearance in school.
Two young brothers, Jim
and Tim Keefe, die tragically in a drowning incident – a flowering tree to the
left of our school doors remembers them.
The multi-use room built in 1980 is named Mogilka Hall.
One of our school
children, Natalie Simonsen, dies of childhood cancer – a blue spruce at the
southwest corner of our school remembers her.
Our beautiful stained glass windows are removed, one at a time, for restoration
and repairs. Our pipe organ is also completely renovated.
Lavatories for church are
added to the school lobby as those in the church side stairwells were prone to
frequent freeze-up problems.
A beautiful statue to the
Blessed Mother is located in the school back yard.
Fr. Raymond Adamsky becomes our new
associate pastor when Fr. Dixon is reassigned.
Sr. Dorothy Ann celebrates
her 40th Anniversary of vows.
Old radiators are removed from
church with installation of a new heating system.
Allen Lechner is hired as
new custodian, replacing Eugene Kosch.
For the first time in our
school’s 120-year history, tuition is charged.
Church is air-conditioned through
generous bequest from Otto Schwarza.
Susan Gehrig is hired as
our Director of Religious Education.
A Parish Council is
elected for the first time in recent parish history.
Church is thoroughly redecorated,
pews and floor refinished, walls repainted, sanctuary recarpeted. St. Joseph’s
receives recognition from Preservation Racine, Inc., as a building of
significant, local historic interest.
Srs. Helen Brower and Dorothy Ann
Grieber retire, the last Racine Dominican Sisters to serve our school and parish
since 1877. The convent is razed, the backyard enlarged.
Fr. Erwin E. Mogilka
retires after 21 years as pastor. Elizabeth Heidorn, housekeeper for three
pastors, also retires after 30 years, and Marge Floyd is hired.
Fr. Richard J. Stoffel
becomes our new pastor in the fall.
An additional blue spruce
is planted in front of school in memory of Norman Friedel, a parish council
member who died suddenly.
A baby grand piano is purchased for
church music, and Catherine Lofy, or organist, receives additional
responsibilities as our first full-time Liturgist/Pastoral Musician.
We begin participation in
a Racine Northside Catholic Collaborative Council to discuss how all northside
Racine parishes could work more effectively together as the shortage of priests
A parish census is taken.
In addition to his duties
here, Fr. Rick serves as temporary administrator at St. Rose Parish.
A Religious Education
program for area Special Needs children is begun at St. Joseph’s
Fr. Raymond Adamsky accepts assignment as chaplain to St. Monica’s Home and, as
no priests are available to follow him, St, Joseph’s again becomes a one-priest
parish, after having had associate pastors in residence for 84 years.
Annual involvement with
the National Night-Out Against Crime begins.
The Sts. Anne & Joachim
Society is founded for our senior members.
Two trees are added to the
backyard – a crimson maple in memory of Rebecca Rose Nelson, and a ginko in
memory of Steve Wigman.
Etched glass windows are added to
the inner doors at church entryways, preserving the decorative patterns which
formerly appeared on the church ceiling.
A fun, 5-K Run/Walk called
“St. Joseph’s Steeplechase” is introduced as part of our Fall Family Festival.
Jeffrey Small, priest-son
of the parish, is ordained for the Diocese of Peoria and has his Mass of
The Sesquicentennial of the Milwaukee Archdiocese sees both Archbishop Rembert
G. Weakland, OSB, and our auxiliary, Bishop Richard J. Sklba (native of Racine)
make a pastoral visit to our parish. The rectory (pastor’s residence) relocates
to 1712 Chatham Street, a home donated to the Parish by the Joseph & Mildred
The church confessionals
are remodeled into more suitable reconciliation rooms.
Weekend and weekday Mass schedules change due to priest shortage.
New pew bookracks and
church hymnals are purchased.
The former rectory
building, now referred to as Parish Center, is remodeled for additional office
and meeting space, as well as beginning a Pre-School/Daycare Program and a Youth
Center. Church seating area at the south side of the sanctuary is specially
renovated as a cry room. New, brighter lighting for our parking lot is
School receives new
computer lab and adds a Before/After Care program for students.
In addition to duties
here, Fr. Rick is appointed temporary administrator of St. Patrick Parish until
their new Parish Director is appointed later in the following year.
Little Joe’s Daycare/Pre-School
opens with Joanne Balistrieri as Directress. Peggy Taylor begins work with us
as our first Parish Nurse. The gym exercise/storage room is remodeled to serve
as Music classroom, allowing for expanded Pre-School as well as Before/After
Trumpet pipes are added to
our church organ in memory of Charles and Myrtle Lechner.
Our backyard is
attractively fenced in to the safety of little children at play.
Fr. Michael E. Nowak, priest-son of the parish, is ordained for the Milwaukee
Archdiocese and celebrates his Mass of Thanksgiving here.
New desks are acquired for
the school. The church’s original statue of the Sacred Heart is found in the
basement beneath the sanctuary and restored to original appearance as in the
1860’s, and enshrined in the lower school hallway.
Serra Club has testimonial
dinner for Fr. Mogilka, honoring his years of service to our parish and the city
Michael & Marsha Iggulden are named Pastoral Associates.
Our ceremonial chalice, a
gift of the first priest-son of St. Joseph’s (Fr. Bernard Salbreiter) in 1901,
is restored and returned to liturgical use. The statues of our nativity set
undergo restoration. Fr. Rick begins the tradition of a Catholic “drive-by”
blessing of automobiles each Memorial Day weekend.
St. Joseph’s participates
in the National Bell Ring for Independence Day.
Five southside Racine
parishes (Holy Name, Holy Trinity, Sts. Rose, Stanislaus, & Casimir) merge into
the new St. Richard of Chicester parish – 24 parishes across the Milwaukee
Archdiocese merge into 9.
New boilers are installed to heat school and church.
Plans begin for
celebration of parish 125th Anniversary in coincidence with the Great
Jubilee Year 2000 and New Millennium. A parish mission entitled “A Year of
Favor from the Lord” begins our celebration.
Our backyard is
relandscaped and designated Siena Gardens in honor of the Racine Dominican
Sisters who served our school and parish from 1877-1990.
A plan to renovate our church
steeple takes shape, including not only needed maintenance but also updating
clock/bell controls, repainting the exterior, repairing interior access stairs
and landings, and placing stained glass in tower apertures to be lit from within
at night, making our steeple a local landmark and light on a hill which cannot
be hidden, a sign of our faith, the true “Light from Within.” The feast of
Joseph, Husband of Mary (March 19), sees an all-parish dinner/dance at Roma
Lodge and a Mass of Community Rededication at which Bishop Sklba presides. A
float in this year’s local 4th of July parade, participation in
Preservation Racine’s annual tour of historic places and a closing Parish
Mission featuring the music ministry of Vince Ambrosetti conclude a celebration
intended to fit us for the future as a community in alliance with our
neighboring Catholic parishes.
Work on the renovation of the steeple
Archbishop Weakland retires as
Archbishop of Milwaukee and is replaced by Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
Fr. Richard Stoffel is
reassigned to St. Peter's parish in Slinger.
Fr. John Aiello is
appointed pastor of St. Joseph's parish.
Catherine Lofy, Liturgist
and Music Director retires after 22 years of service to the parish.
Mr. Joseph Dominic is
hired to replace Catherine Lofy as Director of Music and Liturgy.
Work on the steeple
renovation is completed, including an antenna for cellular phone service
imbedded within the steeple, which provides additional income for the parish.
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