Catholic Churches


City of Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin

Courtesy of Carol

Father MORRISY, one of the three Catholic priests in Wisconsin in 1846, was
located in Milwaukee. He used to make trips to Janesville on horseback, to visit the members of his church, who were quite numerous among the early settlers. He visited this and other towns on the river, and, when coming here, held services and performed marriage ceremonies at the house of James TORNY, until 1847; he was then succeeded by the Rev. Patrick KERNAN, who made monthly visits to this city. He first assembled his flock in the old brick school house on Center street, but in a few months a small brick building was erected for their use, and the church called St. Patrick's. The Rev. Michael McFAUL succeeded Father KERNAN, and the building was enlarged to meet the needs of the congregation. Rev. Michael SMITH followed McFAUL, and remained for one year, when Father KERNAN returned to the charge, and remained until 1854. Then the Rev. John CONROY was placed in charge of the church. As the membership had increased greatly, Father CONROY commenced working on the project of building a new church, a solid and beautiful structure in which he was successful. His successor, J. M. DOYLE, beginning in January, 1864, completed the new building and also built near by the convent of St. Joseph for the Sisters of Mercy in 1870. On account of a large mortgage, the church building had to be sold to a non-Catholic in 1881. In June, 1880, Rev. E. M. McGINNITY took charge. He personally guaranteed the owner of the building $500, provided it was thrown open three Sundays. This was done, and on the third Sunday a collection was taken amounting to $800. Father McGINNITY then began a personal canvass of his parishioners and secured a sum large enough to pay off the greater part of the indebtedness of that parish. He has since completed that work of redemption and added various improvements, a $6,000 parsonage and an altar costing $1,200. He became Dean McGINNITY, and when he died this year (1908) the parish comprised about 2,500 souls.
St. Patrick's has a branch of the Catholic Knights of Wisconsin, Holy Rosary
Confraternity, St. Patrick's T.A. and B. Society, Young Ladies' Sodality, Union Catholic League, Altar Society League of the Sacred Heart, and Ladies' Aid Society to help the poor.
[Source: Rock County, Wisconsin: A new history of it's cities, villages, etc., Vol. I, by William Fiske Brown (editor-in-chief); ©1908 C. F. Cooper, Chicago, IL; pp. 288-289]

©2002 ALHN-Rock County, Wisconsin

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