Acting upon the advice of Most Rev. M. Henni, Bishop of
Milwaukee, the German-speaking Catholics of Menasha separated from
St. Charles Congregation, now St. Patrick's Church; and assisted by
the Rev. Fr. Wilkens, organized a parish of their own. For that
purpose, they bought a church building with adjoining property from
the Congregational Congregation of Menasha. In the Spring of 1867,
the Bishop blessed the church and dedicated it to Our Blessed Lady.
Rev. F. Uhlemeyer was the first resident pastor of the new
Father Uhlemeyer built the first Catholic school in the diocese of
Green Bay in 1868. He erected a school building in Menasha and put
the Franciscan Sisters in charge.
He left Menasha in 1871 and was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Nussbaum.
His short pastorate lasted 18 months.
Rev. J. Jaster was in charge of the parish until March 1875. In
September 1874, he called to the parish the School Sisters of Notre
Dame, who have been a great factor in building up the parish
spiritually and intellectually.
The death of Father Jaster brought to Menasha a man with great
heart, a priest whose faith can still be seen in the works he left
behind. Father Andrew Seubert was a man universally loved, a man
whose counsel was sought by bishops and priests.
On Ash Wednesday, 1883, fire destroyed the first little St. Mary
church. This disaster was a great financial blow to the people,
most of whom were poor laborers. But Father Seubert was not
discouraged. In three days he had $14,000 subscribed for a new
church, and in November of the same year, the new church was
dedicated by Bishop Krautbauer. This edifice, the present St. Mary
Church, was designed by Architect Druiding of Chicago and is a
splendid example of German Gothic architecture. In the course of
time, a large sacristy was added to it.
In 1893, Father Seubert, built a school with eighteen classrooms
and a spacious hall.
Due to failing health, he resigned as pastor of St. Mary Church in
March 1901 and retired to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton.
Until a definite pastor could be appointed, Rev. Herman Rogier, a
Salvatorian priest, had charge of St. Mary Congregation. In
November of the same year, Rev. N. Hens was transferred to Menasha.
Finding the pastoral duties here rather arduous, he was given an
assistant in the person of Rev. V.C. Hugo. For the same reason, in
July of 1905, he passed the pastoral staff into the hands of Rev.
Peter Schmitz. Upon the death of Fr. Schmitz in September 1914, Fr.
John Hummel succeeded.
Father Hummel started a long series of accomplishments. One of his
first improvements was the addition of the sacristy wing to the
church to serve as a chapel for the celebration of weekday Mass. In
1936, the old rectory was torn down, and the present day rectory
was built.Fr. Hummel also purchased additional land for St. Mary's
cemetery and expended much time in personal supervision of the
gardening and arrangements of the grounds. The present auditorium
was also completed under his supervision.
In 1948, upon the retirement of Msgr. Hummel, Fr. Joseph Becker,
under the title of Parish Administrator, assumed the pastoral
duties of St. Mary Parish. Two years later, on November 5, 1950, he
became pastor. Msgr. Becker was ably qualified for this post since
he had been familiar with the parish and her people since June 26,
1928, when, as a young priest, he was transferred to St. Mary's as
an assistant. All but two years of Msgr. Becker's priestly career
were devoted to St. Mary parish; serving as parish assistant, band
director, teacher, principal, parish administrator, and finally
pastor. Both the school and the parish benefited immensely from the
Monsignor's many and varied talents. He died October 15,1985.
Vatican II brought many changes to the church. St. Mary, under the
guidance of Msgr. Becker, soon adopted the suggested changes making
the Mass and religious services more meaningful to the people. The
people responded and became more involved in the parish work.
The new altar facing the people was erected to create an atmosphere
of communicative dialogue. Lay lectors are used to promote Mass
participation. Prayers are recited in English and the singing is no
longer limited to the choir.
In 1971, the administration of the church was turned over to the
Blessed Sacrament Fathers whose dedicated priests and brothers
guided St. Mary for many years.
Under their direction, many improvements have been made, including
complete renovation of the church interior, the repair of the
organ, clock tower, bells, stained glass windows, and an outside
ramp for wheelchairs. In 1995 a parking lot was added. In 1998 a
Link from the church to the school was added with a new activity
center, kitchen, cafeteria and new bathrooms.
They learned that the former sacristy was intended to be a small
chapel for private prayer and weekday celebrations of the
Eucharist. In 1975, the sacristy was restored to its first
The chapel was dedicated to Sister Marietta Pecht,S.S.N.D.
Sister Marietta taught first grade for 33 years at St. Mary's,
served as parish sacristan for 30 years, and celebrated her golden
jubilee here. In the chapel is a plaque alluding to her more that
50 years of service to the parish and school.
|1975 MARIETTA CHAPEL in gratitude to SISTER MARIETTA PECHT,
S.S.N.D. For more that 50 years of service to St. Mary Parish and
Through the century, St. Mary Parish has continued to grow, not
only in size, but in spirit. The dedication of the first 34
families can still be found among the families that make up St.
Mary Parish today. St. Mary began as a dream of poor immigrant
settlers. They saw their dreams take shape. Each succeeding
generation's dream became a little larger. Today, we see the result
emerge: ST. MARY - A PARISH WE CAN ALL BE JUSTLY PROUD OF.