Church: Dorchester, St. Louis (1876-1973)

Contact: Janet
Email: stan@wiclarkcountyhistory.org 

Surnames: ARENTZ BALLY BERG BEYER BIRSNER BURGGRAF DUCHINE GLASER HAINES HAYDEN KASTIGAR KELNHOFER KIENLER KREIBICH LAURICH MAURINA MILLER NEISES PITZENBERGER SCHUH SHETTELHAUFER STUHLMAN WELLER

----Source: Historical Sketches of Dorchester, Wisconsin.

Dorchester, St. Louis Catholic Church (1876 - 1973)



St. Louis Catholic Church

According to The Reporter, an early Dorchester newspaper, a Catholic church was errected in 1876 on the Paulson lot, the present location of the Maurina Funeral Home. It was called the oldest parish between Stevens Point and Ashland. Father Shettelhaufer of Medford offered Mass on Sundays. Later Fathers J. J. Miller and Kienler from Stevens Point and Athens served the parish.


In the early 1880's the church was moved to what is now the southwest corner of the present church property.


In 1897 the St. Louis congregation had its first resident pastor in the person of Fr. Henry Glaser. The missions of Stetsonville and Whittlesey were attached to the parish. A fire in the rectory during that year destroyed many of the records. Also in 1897 the Christian Mother's Society was organized.


A new brick church supplanted the original frame building, in 1898. Father Bally replaced Fr. Glaser as pastor and in 1899 Fr. August Birsner was appointed. In 1902 the Duchine family donated a plot for the cemetery and Valentine Lurich was the first parishioner buried there.


Father John Neises succeeded Fr. Birsner in 1908, and in 1909 a new rectory was built. Father Arentz was appointed pastor in 1912, and in 1913 the combination school and convent was built. Father Arentz left in 1915 from then until 1921 the following pastors were in charge of the parish: Fr. Beyer, Fr. Katigar, Fr. Stuhlman and Fr. Pitzenberger. Fr. Pitzenberger remained until 1933. In 1930 the new church was built. Fr. N. E. Kreibich and Fr. C. Haines were the next pastors with Fr. Philip Weller appointed in 1937. In 1942 a fire seriously damaged the interior of the church. A new marble altar was installed, new pews were added and it was redecorated in liturgical design which attracted the attention of artists throughout the country.


In 1949, Father Kelnhofer became pastor and remained until 1952, ill health forcing him to resign. Monsignor Thomas Hayden was appointed. He soon felt that a new school was necessary and accordingly began making plans, but destiny decreed that his dreams would not be fulfilled. He died suddenly on New Year's morning of 1956.


The next few months the parish was served by Fr. Donald Berg, until Father Gerald Schuh was appointed pastor in May 1956. He at once took up the challenge left by Monsignor Hayden, and those dreams of a new school became a reality in 1957. Classes began in the second semester of that term. Father Schuh retired November 15, 1972, after 16 years of service, the longest of any priest in the history of St. Louis parish. The parish is presently served by Rev. J. J. Burggraf.

 

 


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