Page 1

1 7 5



of St. Mary Catholic Parish Community in Burlington

Burlington Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013

The steeple on the hill

Quality Home Furnishings Since 1929

Page 2

ST. MARY’S 175th

December 2013

Since 1929

f u r n i t u r e Since 1929

Congratulating St. Mary’s f u r n i t u r e and thank you foru the faithful Serving Southeastern f u r n i t Home r Wisconsin e Quality f uyou r n ihave t u r provided e ministry Since 1929 Furnishings theQuality Burlington area for the Home f u r n i t u r e Quality Home past 175 years! Quality 3 Floors of HomeHome Furnishings Furnishings Furnishings Quality Home Serving Southeastern Wisconsin Furnishings 625 Browns Lake Drive Since 1929 21,000 SQ. FT. of Display Furnishings Burlington, WI 53105 Serving Southeastern Wisconsin f u r n i t u r eWisconsin Serving Southeastern Since 1929 Serving Southeastern Wisconsin Serving Southeastern Wisconsin (262) 763-3434 or (262) 763-3541 3 Floors of Home Furnishings Since 1929 FREE Since 1929 Quality Home Since 1929 Quality Home Professional Design Service! 625 Browns Lake Drive 3 Floors of Home Furnishings Furnishings 21,000 SQ. FT. of Display 3 Floors of Home Furnishings Floors of Home Furnishings Burlington, WI 53105 Furnishings 3 Floors of3Home Furnishings 625 Browns Lake Drive Custom Order Specialists Serving Southeastern Wisconsin 625 Browns Lake Drive 21,000 SQ. FT. of Display 625 Browns Lake Drive Burlington, WI 53105 Since 1929 21,000 SQ. FT. of Display (262) 763-3434 or (262) 763-3541 625Burlington, Browns Lake Drive FREE WI 53105 21,000 SQ. FT. of Display Burlington, WI 53105 Serving Southeastern Wisconsin 21,000 SQ. FT. Furnishings of Display Burlington, WI 53105 3 Floors of Home Professional Design Service! Choose From Famous (262) 763-3434 or or (262) Since 1929 FREE (262) 763-3434 (262)763-3541 763-3541 21,000 SQ. FT. of Display FREE (262) 763-3434 or (262) FREE Manufacturers: Professional Service! (262) 763-3434 or (262) 763-3541 763-3541 FREE Professional Design Design Service! FREE Specialists Professional Design Service! Professional Design Service! 3Custom Floors ofOrder Home Furnishings Canadel Flexsteel Professional Design Service! Custom Order Specialists Custom Order Specialists Custom Order Specialists 625 Browns Lake Drive Winners Only Norwalk 21,000 SQ. FT. of Display Choose From Famous Custom Order Specialists Burlington, WI Avenue, 53105 Choose From Famous 908 11th Custom Specialists ChooseOrder From Famous Custom Shoppe Lane Manufacturers: Manufacturers: Union Grove, WI 53182 Manufacturers: Choose From Famous (262) 763-3434 or (262) 763-3541 Peters Revington Restonic ChooseFREE From Famous Canadel Flexsteel • Flexsteel • Canadel Canadel Flexsteel Manufacturers: Choose From Famous (262) 878-2011 Professional Design Service! • Norwalk • Winner Only Winners Only Norwalk Manufacturers: Vaughn Bassett Ekornes Winners Only Norwalk Manufacturers: • Lane • Custom Shoppe Canadel Flexsteel 908 11th Avenue, Custom Shoppe Lane Miller’s Amish Best Craft Canadel Flexsteel 908 11th • Restonic • Peters Revington Union Grove,Avenue, WI 53182 Custom Shoppe Lane Custom Order Specialists Canadel Flexsteel Winners Only Norwalk Peters Revington Restonic Bedroom • Ekornes • Vaughn Bassett Union(262) Grove, WI 53182 878-2011 Winners Only Norwalk Peters Restonic 908 11th Avenue, • Best Craft • Miller’sRevington Amish Vaughn Ekornes Winners OnlyBassett Norwalk Custom Shoppe Lane (262) 878-2011 908 11th Avenue, Choose From Famous Bedroom Union Grove, WI 53182 Custom Shoppe Lane Miller’s Amish Best Craft 908 11th Avenue, Vaughn Bassett Ekornes Custom Shoppe Lane Union Grove, WI 53182 Peters Revington Restonic Bedroom Manufacturers: (262) 763-9517 Union Grove, WI 53182 Peters Revington Restonic (262) 878-2011 Miller’s Amish Best Craft Peters Revington Restonic Vaughn Bassett Ekornes (262) 878-2011 Canadel Flexsteel Bedroom (262) 878-2011 Vaughn Bassett Ekornes Vaughn Bassett Ekornes Miller’s Amish Best Craft Winners Only Norwalk Mon.-Thurs. 10-6 • Fri. 10-8 Miller’s Amish Best Craft Bedroom 908 11th Avenue, Miller’s Amish Best Craft Shoppe Lane Sat. 9-5 • Custom Bedroom Sun. 12-4 Union Grove, WI 53182 Bedroom Since 1929

Since 1929

Since 1929

Peters Revington Restonic 425 N. Pine Street Vaughn Bassett Ekornes Burlington, WI Miller’s Amish Best Craft Bedroom

(262) 878-2011 142481

December 2013

ST. MARY’S 175th

Page 3

It was this faith that saw the earliest priests and parishioners through hard times; it is this faith that continues to support and sustain us today in an everchanging world and church.” – Fr. James Volkert, pastor

A legacy of faith

For 175 years Spirit has burned bright for St. Mary Parish By Fr. James Volkert PASTOR

The year was 1838. Pope Gregory XVI was the successor to St. Peter, Martin Van Buren was the President of the 26 United States, Wisconsin was a territory and under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Detroit. It was in that year that an Irish priest by the name of Father Thomas Morrissey came to an area known at the time as Lower Forks, later Foxville, to celebrate the first Catholic Mass. Today this area is known as Burlington. A group of faithful Catholics gathered in Mr. Ruel Nimm’s lodging house to participate in this Holy Mass offered by Fr. Morrissey. Shortly following this, a number of homes served as a place to worship our Lord and to receive Holy Communion. This was the beginning of a faith community that we celebrate today – the Community of Immaculate Conception (St. Mary) Parish. Today our parish is one of the three oldest existing parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, older than the Archdiocese itself and the State of Wisconsin. In the 1840 edition of the Official Catholic Almanac, the statistics for the previous year (1839) list for the Diocese of Detroit

the following Faith Communities in the territory of Wisconsin: Burlington, South Port (present day Kenosha) and Salem (present day Brighton). Father Morrissey was the first to minister to these communities, along with another young Irish priest, Fr. Patrick O’Kelley. Both were Irish missionaries to the “New World.” It was from here that this parish took off. As the years passed, the structure and

organization of our parish became much more solidified. The title, “St. Sebastian Parish,” was given to this new community. Fr. Michael Wisbauer was appointed the first resident pastor on October 16, 1847. He would be followed by nine pastors who have guided and shaped our faith community, each in his own way. Over the years our parish has grown, both in the number of parishioners and

Anniversary celebration scheduled for Dec. 8

Immaculate Conception (St. Mary) Parish, Burlington, will celebrate its 175th anniversary on Sunday, Dec. 8, with a special Mass and reception. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki will preside at the 10:30 a.m. Mass in the church at 108 McHenry Street. Former pastors and priests who served at the parish in the past will concelebrate the mass. Other dignitaries will also be present. A luncheon and reception will immediately follow in the parish school cafeteria, at 225 W. State Street. Historical parish memorabilia will be on display at the reception. St. Mary has the distinction of being one of only three parishes in the Milwaukee Archdiocese that have reached a 175th anniversary milestone.

in the size of our campus. In 1854, the name of the parish was changed to “Immaculate Conception Parish,” which has been commonly known as “St. Mary’s” throughout the years. Our grade school opened in 1860 when the first School Sisters of Notre Dame arrived to serve at our parish. A parish high school was opened in 1922. Throughout the years different associations were created: the Holy Name Society, Christian Mothers and Altar Society, the CYO, and with them parish life became ever more active and vibrant. Our parish cemetery, “God’s Acre,” established in 1846, provides the resting place for countless of our parishioners and friends who await the resurrection of the body. Our cemetery also is the resting place of our former pastors. The cemetery chapel honors our first and second pastors, Fr. Michael Wisbauer and Fr. Theodore Jacobs, as well as some School Sisters of Notre Dame who served our parish. The Priests’ Circle honors Fr. Joseph Van Treek, Monsignor Edward Kersting and Monsignor Joseph Heim. Fr. Bertram, our third pastor, wanted to be • See Faith on page 4

ST. MARY’S 175th

December 2013

• Faith from page 3

“among his people” near the chapel. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, St. John the Baptist tells us “the One who is coming after me is mightier than I. … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11) This happened, quite literally here, on July 24, 1977. The terrible fire that destroyed much of our present day church was an event that many of our present day parishioners remember as if it happened yesterday. From this disaster came a renewed spirit and commitment to make our parish an even stronger community of faith and to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ with an even greater devotion. True to the words of St. John the Baptist, however, our parish has been baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire – the fire of love, love for God and neighbor: • It was the fire of the Holy Spirit that filled the hearts of our earliest parishioners. • It was the fire of the Holy Spirit that filled the hearts of the spiritual leaders here: Fathers Morrissey, Wisbauer, Jacobs, Bertram, Van Treek, Monsignors Kersting and Heim, Frs. Gosma, Reith, Theilen and myself, as well as the many associate pastors who have served here. • It was the fire of the Holy Spirit that filled the hearts of those dedicated

On the cover

St. Mary Church is a beacon on a prominent hill in Burlington. The church’s façade and steeple were illuminated in 2003 thanks to a donation from parish member Linda Koenig in memory of her late husband Doug. Photo by Ed Nadolski

women religious: Sisters Mary Alexandra, Mary Margaret, Mary Walburga, Mary Wilhelmine, Mary DePadua, Elizabeth, Mary Lauretta, Mary Joyce Merten. • It is the fire of the Holy Spirit that burns in our hearts today as we carry on the mission of John the Baptist: making known the name of Jesus Christ. Priests have come and gone, Sisters have come and gone, parishioners have come and gone, buildings have gone up and come down, replaced by other buildings. The name of the parish was changed, the name of the city was changed, trees have been planted and cut down, parking lots have been laid and ripped up and replaced, altars were put in and taken out, communion rails and pulpits have come and gone, colors of paints have been changed, worship styles have come and gone. However, with all of these changes over the last 175 years, there is one thing that has remained – the faith of the people of God, faith that was ignited by the fire of the Holy Spirit. It was this faith that saw the earliest priests and parishioners through hard times; it is this faith that continues to support and sustain us today in an ever-changing world and church. One can only guess what the future holds, but one thing will remain constant, and we can be sure of – the fire of the Holy Spirit will not be extinguished, but will only burn stronger and brighter in the hearts of God’s faithful people. It is only by His love and the gift of faith He has bestowed that Immaculate Conception (St. Mary) can humbly claim to be a Community of Faith for 175 years! For this, we can only give thanks and praise to Almighty God and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!

St. Mary’s 175 Years of Faith, Dedication, Commitment, and Service to the Burlington Community and surrounding areas.

e Thank You for all th r years and wishing fo many more to come! PAT SERVICE, INC 38331 60th Street Burlington, WI

St. Mary’s Parish is more than just stone and mortar. It is a faith community with a 175year tradition of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and living out the Gospel message to love and serve its neighbors in the Burlington community. I look forward to celebrating this milestone with the entire parish community.” – Most Rev. Jerome Listecki, Archbishop of Milwaukee


Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki will preside over a Mass Dec. 8 celebrating the 175th anniversary of Immaculate Conception (St. Mary) Parish, Burlington. The Mass begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a luncheon and reception.

Congrats on 175 Congrats to St. Mary’s years of history! Jerry Ketterhagen Homestead Lakes Realty Inc.



Page 4

(262) 492-3026

Congrats St. Mary’s Church, Burlington, on 175 Years of Joy & Merriment. JOHN’S MAIN EVENT

(262) 537-4988 142569

556 N. Pine Street Burlington, WI 53105 (262) 763-8863


701 N Pine St. • 763-9184 Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sat. 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sun. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Congrats St. Mary’s Church, Burlington, on 175 Years of commitment.


1073 Milwaukee Avenue Burlington, Wisconsin 53105 (262) 763-5020


December 2013

ST. MARY’S 175th

Page 5

Parish’s history dates to 1838


This photo, from the early 1890s shows the existing St. Mary’s Church (center), completed in 1891, flanked by the 1859 stone church (right), originally named Church of the Immaculate Conception and now referred to as the stone annex. The steeple of the annex building was removed shortly after this photo was taken so as to not conflict with the main steeple. The stone annex has been used as classroom space for the parish’s schools since that time.

Congregation went from missionaries riding the circuit to soaring steeples Catholics from European countries came to the Burlington area in the early 1800’s and sought to continue to grow their faith. Before a parish was established, missionary priests travelling through Burlington offered Mass in the homes of area Catholics. The earliest known Mass was celebrated in 1838 in the house of Ruel Nimms by Fr. Thomas Morrissey, a missionary who served in this area for 23 years. In 1842, the people of the this area donated $60 to buy a horse for another missionary, Fr. Martin Kundig, to help ensure that during his travels Mass would be offered in the Burlington area. By 1844, the parish under the name of St.


The historic photos and information in this section come from several sources, including the parish’s archives and website, the Burlington Historical Society, the Standard Press archives and the parish history book “Saint Mary’s Community of Faith” by the Revs. Richard Dolezal and Thomas Fait.

Sebastian was formed and plans for the first church building took place. The land for this church was purchased from Mr. E. Perkins for $25 in early 1847. Thanks to the hard work of many parish members the total cost to construct the new stone church was $578.84. This is amazing considering they purchased land and a small building in December 1845, from Squire Lewis Royce to add to the parish campus for $600. St. Sebastian This first church, St. Sebastian, was built on the site, which is now the State Street parking lot. The building is credited as being the first masonry building in all of Racine County. St. Sebastian’s was consecrated by Bishop Henni on Nov. 9, 1845. This was the first in a long series of building projects for the parish. The parish started with a number of temporary pastors, though Father Michael Wisbauer is credited as being the first resident pastor of our parish in 1847. The parish quickly outgrew the first church and in 1854 the cornerstone was laid in the “new stone church.” This Gothic Revival church was designed by Victor Schulte, who was one of Wisconsin’s first architects, and he

also designed many of the original buildings for the St Francis Seminary. On Dec. 8, 1859, Bishop Henni consecrated the stone church under the title of the Immaculate Conception, which was the choice of the United States Bishops as the Patroness of the country. Despite the steeple being removed in 1893, it still remains one of the best preserved cobblestone buildings in the nation. Many of the original diamond shaped windows can be seen, which is extremely rare for a building of this age. Grade school St. Mary parish grade school began in 1860 four days after the arrival of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. 110 students are shown to have attended school that first year. Through the next approximately 120 years the parish and schools were faithfully served by Notre Dame and Franciscan (OSF) Sisters. In total, there were over 350 sisters that served the parish. The school was started in the first church (St. Sebastian) just four days after the sisters arrived. The school later moved to the old stone church, then to the building where Catholic Central now resides, and eventually to grade school’s existing building, on State


This is an artist’s rendition of what the original parish church, named St. Sebastian, looked like after it was built in 1845. The church was at the location of the current church parking lot on State Street. When the stone church was built in 1859, the St. Sebastian building – which had the distinction of being the first masonry building in Racine County – was converted into school and a second floor was added.

Street, in 1955. Since then, the old stone church (referred to as the Annex), and old convent have been used as classroom space when needed for the grade school and high school. Currently, the Annex houses four classrooms for the grade school, and the convent is home to the parish preschool, which was started in 2001. The current church In 1890, work began on the current church building thanks to urging from Father Theodore Jacobs. He believed in the project • See History on page 9

Page 6

ST. MARY’S 175th

December 2013

A life lived for her church

Carlyne Klein was an inspiration for the congregation she called home By Ed Nadolski EDITOR IN CHIEF

A few hundred paces to the right and a few hundred paces to the left – sometimes trod while bent over a walker on her way to daily Mass as February snow swirled around her head – was the tiny corner of Burlington that comprised Carlyne Klein’s world. She lived in the home where she grew up, volunteered at the school she once attended and served as an inspiration to fellow parishioners at the church with the towering steeple about a hundred paces from her front door, give or take a few. As tiny as Klein’s world was geographically, those who knew her said the quiet, simple, faith-filled life she led was a shining example of human beauty that far exceeded grandiose pronouncements by globetrotting politicians and dignitaries. Klein died Nov. 29, 2008, at the age of 83 in the hospital just a few hundred paces to the right of her front door at 201 McHenry Street. Diane Smetana, a cousin of Klein’s who grew up just down the street, said her passing creates a void that could more than swallow up the city block she called home. But it won’t, Smetana said, because the example her life provides is the bedrock on which such close-knit neighborhoods and congregations are built. “She was such a quiet influence in her devotion to her family, her faith, her God – like a little Mighty Mouse who always had a beautiful smile,” Smetana said. “I never heard her say anything negative about anyone.” The most endearing image friends remember of Klein is her daily walk to St. Mary Catholic Church for Mass – all 4-foot-something of her hunched over as she made her way in any kind of weather. “Though her steps might have become labored and difficult, still she was always here for Mass, said former pastor Fr. Jeff Thielen, who was just one in a long line of St. Mary’s pastors who served Klein since her birth in 1925. In a letter to parishioners, Thielen wrote: “Carlyne is the kind of parish member that every pastor prays to have in his parish: filled to the brim with faith, unfailingly loyal to the Lord Jesus, wise in knowledge of the Catholic Church, never without a smile, only kind words to say (and) eager to volunteer. “Wild horses could not have kept her from St. Mary’s, only death could,” added Thielen, hinting she is now in a far better place. Klein succumbed to emphysema following two years of frail health that forced her to cut back on activities, Smetana said, but never dimmed her outlook on life. Although she never married or had children, Klein displayed an uncommon devotion to church, school and community, according to Joannie Kresken, former admissions director at Catholic Central High School, which is directly across the street from Klein’s house and is the high school – then named St. Mary’s – that Klein

In all her glory

attended. In her professional life Klein served as a legal secretary at a local law office for 33 years, was a licensed practical nurse at Memorial Hospital of Burlington, worked as a registered dietician for the public health department in Walworth County and was owner/operator of Echo Services Tax Preparation. But her true service was as a volunteer for the things she loved: 25 years in the church choir; longtime secretary for the St. Mary’s Cemetery

But, through the course of a semester, Klein learned that it sometimes takes tough love to be a parent and Hyun-Ah gained a lasting respect for her diminutive host mother. “As tiny as she was, she wasn’t afraid to set the rules,” Kresken said. When Hyun-Ah, who at the time of Klein’s death was a university student in Korea, learned of Klein’s passing, she called Kresken in tears. It wasn’t long after Hyun-Ah left Burlington that Sarah Pieters, then a senior at Catholic Central, met Klein. It was a windy day and Klein – waif that she was – was knocked to the ground and injured when the wind whipped open her storm door as she tried to enter her home. Pieters, who was leaving school, heard Klein yelling for help and walked around the back of the house where the injured Klein lay to offer assistance. After the rescue squad took Klein to the hospital, Pieters said she went on her way never imagining that their paths would cross again. But fate intervened weeks later when Pieters was working as a housekeeper at Mt. Carmel Medical and Rehabilitation Center in Burlington and recognized Klein’s name ED NADOLSKI Standard Press on the resident Former Milwaukee Archbishop (now Cardinal) Timothy Dolan list. shares a laugh with Carlyne Klein after letting her try on his skull Klein ended cap, known as a zucetto, during a 2006 visit to Catholic Central up in the High School. Klein, who was a fixture at the school and adjacent St. nursing home Mary’s Church, died Nov. 29, 2008. to rehabilitate her injuries and Association; minister to the sick and shutwas thrilled to see Pieters. in; 16 years as secretary for the Burlington Klein also asked Pieters if she’d be Historical Society; informal church and willing to help her out with everyday tasks school historian; and teacher of English as once she returned home. a second language for the local St. Vincent Pieters agreed and now realizes she De Paul Society, just to name a few. was the one who got the most out of the “Who hasn’t that woman helped (with) arrangement. all that she’s done in the community?” “She taught me patience and Kresken said. “(It’s) just lovely.” appreciate what you have,” Pieters said. Within days of her 80th birthday in 2005, As a child of the Great Depression, Klein, with some prodding from Kresken, Klein was frugal to a fault and respectful of agreed to serve as a host parent for a South every material thing she had, no matter how Korean exchange student, Hyun-Ah Hong, modest, according to Pieters. whose original plans for a host family fell “She taught me how to air-dry paper through. towels and reuse them,” Pieters said. “She “She was tentative, because she never taught me how to make applesauce and then had children of her own,” Kresken said. she gave little jars of it to all the neighbors. “It was just so sweet. She did everything “She was such an inspiring person.” for (Hyun-Ah). She’d lend her clothes and Kresken echoed that sentiment and said make her organic food.” she believes there’s a special reward for One day Kresken found Klein in her people like Klein. basement washing the student’s clothes “No one was more ready to meet the in her ancient, labor-intensive wringer Lord,” she said. washing machine. And, as it turned out for Carlyne Klein, “I said, ‘What’re you doing?’ Hyun-Ah that meeting took place just a few hundred should be doing that herself,” Kresken paces from her front door and a few more recalled. from the church she considered home.

December 2013


ST. MARY’S 175th

Page 7

ike most buildings, a church can be broken down into mere components – bricks, mortar, wood and plaster. But a church isn’t like most buildings. Certain churches tend to take on human qualities where flesh and bones provide structure for heart and soul. And so it is with St. Mary’s Church. When the genius of an architect meets dedicated craftsmen and flows seamlessly into appreciative parishioners, a church becomes bathed in a glory that defies time and scoffs at disaster. Its towering steeple inspires pride and its comforting bells mark the passage of time. But, at its core, St. Mary’s is a house of God, and as such the ornately Gothic brickwork takes a backseat to its primary purpose. In this case, the beauty of St. Mary’s is so much more than skin deep.


Ed Nadolski

Page 8

ST. MARY’S 175th

December 2013

We would like to congratulate St. Mary’s on its 175th anniversary! We’d also like to thank them for providing our family with a wonderful faith based education thru St. Mary’s School and Catholic Central High School.

BURLINGTON RV AND THE WEGGE FAMILY 390 S. Sylvania Ave. • Sturtevant, WI • (262) 321-2500 142485



December 2013

In 175 years, parish only had 10 pastors While difficult to imagine, Immaculate Conception St. Mary Parish, Burlington, has had just 10 pastors in its 175-year history. After relying on circuit-riding missionary priests for the first nine years of it’s existence, the parish received its first pastor in 1847. Father Michael Wisbauer served the longest – 42 years – until 1889. Two others – Monsignor Joseph Heim (1949-1976), 27 years, and Fr. Theodore Jacobs (1890-1912), 22 years – served more than 20 years each. Combined, those three provided the leadership for 91 of the parish’s 175 years. The parish has also had a multitude of associate pastors over those same years. Here is a look at all of the primary pastors through the church’s history:

ST. MARY’S 175th

Page 9

Fr. Michael Wisbauer (1847-1889)

Fr. Theodore Jacobs (1890-1912)

Fr. John Bertram (1912-1914)

Fr. Joseph Van Treeck (1915-1932)

Monsignor Edward Kersting (1932-1949)

Monsignor Joseph Heim (1949-1976)

Fr. Robert Gosma (1976-1989)

Fr. David Reith (1989-2004)

Fr. Jeffery Theilen (2004-2009)

Fr. James Volkert (2010-Present)

• History from page 5

so much that he personally purchased the land for $500 from the School Sisters. The new church, and its 186-foot-tall tower, were dedicated on Dec. 10, 1891. In the years to follow, it was noted that Fr. Jacobs purchased and donated many other things for the church, including the existing Stations of the Cross hanging on the church walls. He and his cousin also donated a new main altar and organ in 1904. Fr. Jacobs was a very business orientated pastor. As noted in the history of St. Mary Parish, Fr. Jacobs not only was pastor, he ran a shoe store and served as Director of the Bank of Burlington. On Aug. 9, 1892, Immaculate Conception (St. Mary) Parish celebrated the first Mass for The Rev. Phillip Klein, who became the first parish member to be ordained a priest. This started a tradition of many young and women from our parish entering the religious orders. Fr. Klein was later made a Domestic Prelate by Pope Pius XII, in July 1954.



A fire that began in the steeple area ravaged St. Firefighters survey the damage to the church Mary’s Church on July 24, 1977. following the fire.

Like those who remember the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated or where they were when the Twin Towers were struck by terrorists, many Burlington residents have vivid memories of the fire that ravaged St. Mary’s Church in 1977. On July 24 of that year the City of Burlington Fire Department received simultaneous telephone calls at 4:20 a.m. of a fire in the steeple of the church. And while the parish’s priests and parishioners scrambled to save vestments, icons and other priceless materials, firefighters from throughout the area descended on the church. It took firefighters less than two hours to bring the blaze under control, but the damage was tremendous – the steeple and roof were gone, leaving charred

debris throughout the sanctuary. The bells fell from the tower and plunged through the church floor. However, the devastation of the fire was met with an even more powerful resolve on the part of the parish leaders. Not only did they recover enough to celebrate mass in the school gym on the day of the fire, they also took precious little time in deciding to rebuild the church to much of its original glory. When completed more than two years later, the $2.6 million reconstruction – including a $2.3 million insurance settlement – was greeted with a glorious rededication ceremony featuring church and community leaders from throughout the area. According to accounts of the fire, officials were unable to determine a definitive cause.

St. Mary High School In 1920, the parish bought back its first church, which had been sold to the St. Eustachius Benevolent Society. It then became the first home to a Catholic two-year commercial business high school in 1924, thanks to the efforts of Fr. Joseph Van Treeck. After five years, the school expanded to a four-year program. By 1926, St. Mary High School (later to be called Catholic Central High School in 1984) moved into its new building on the south end of the campus, which it shared with the grade school. Catholic Central High School now functions separately from the parish and is sponsored by many parishes in the area. Also in 1926, St Therese Chapel in Powers Lake was built for summer services. At first, this chapel was administered to by St. Alphonsus in New Munster, though soon afterwards it fell under the care of St. Mary parish for many years. (This chapel was closed in 2009 due to the shortage of priests.) The current rectory offices were completed in 1976 and added much-needed office and meeting space. Many of the recent projects have been done by Catholic Central and include: the addition of the big gym, the remodeling of Topper Hall (the original gym which is now an auditorium), the addition of the MAC and most recently the addition of the practice gym and additional classrooms. Fire devastates church On the morning of July 24, 1977, a fire destroyed most of the church. Thanks to the dedicated effort of many parishioners serving on a variety of committees, the church was rebuilt. It was rededicated on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1979. At this time, the Good Shepherd Chapel was added to the south side of the church. Since 1980 there have not been any significant building projects to the church or grade school, though the campus is continually being maintained and updated. The history of the parish would not be complete without noting that in the 175 years in existence, more than 20 of its members went on to become priests, two became brothers, and more than 20 became sisters. Members of Immaculate Conception St. Mary Parish are very proud of the church’s history and look forward to the history it will create in the years to come.

Page 10

ST. MARY’S 175th

December 2013

Congratulations on

175 YEARS of Service & Dedication!

Mealy Funeral Home Since 1923

Memories To Savor! We’ll make it an affair to remember!

Catering for all occasions to your order. Call for all the facts.

Stowell’s Catering Service W1127 Spring Prairie Rd., Burlington, WI 53105 (262) 763-8316• (800) 640-5703

Third Generation Family Owned and Operated

(262) 534-2233

225 W. Main Street • Waterford, WI



Congratulations St. Mary’s on your 175th Anniversary from all of us at Happy 175th Anniversary


665 South Kane Street, Burlington, Wisconsin (262) 763-2573 257 Milwaukee Ave, Burlington




December 2013

ST. MARY’S 175th

Page 11

Parish leaves lasting mark on those who serve It was in the spring of 1976 when I drove into Burlington with all my belongings packed in a car and a small U-haul. Little did I realize how blessed my next 13 years as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish would be. This was my first pastorate and I came with two newly ordained priests, Fr. Richard Dolezal and Fr. Dave Reith. We were strangers but very quickly were taken into the homes and hearts of the parish family. My first impressions, which proved to be true, were that this was a parish with a strong commitment to the faith, family values, church and schools. This strong commitment made it easier to travel together the journey of faith bringing God’s love into the world. I was always impressed with the willingness of so many to give of their time, talent and treasure to make that journey more successful. A defining event during my pastorate was the church fire in July 1977. The fire started early Sunday morning, but the parishioners were able to salvage enough from the burning church to set up the altar in the old gym and we celebrated Mass later on that same morning. For days a cloud hung over the community. It was as if a family member had died. But the true mettle of the faith community rose up out of those ashes with an unshakeable determination to rebuild their church. And rebuild it they did. And in the process the parish family was brought closer together.

Congratulations on 175 Years of Sweetness & Grace!

DAIRY QUEEN 324 S. Pine Street Burlington, Wisconsin (262) 763-9385


Congratulations on 175 Years of Dedicated faith and commitment!

God has truly blessed St. Mary’s over these 175 years. I am sure they are a grateful people and will continue to express that gratitude to God by bringing his love and compassion into the world. Fr. Robert Gosma, Pastor 1976-1989

Blessed by the opportunity to serve here twice Congratulations, to the faith community of St. Mary’s on this special occasion in the rich history of this remarkable congregation! From the early days of the missionary Catholic priests, who would periodically arrive on horseback to offer Mass and celebrate Sacraments with Catholics who had settled in the Burlington area from 1838 onward to the established parish community that now celebrates this anniversary, you are truly a jewel among the parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I consider myself very fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to serve this congregation twice – first, as a newly ordained priest who was an associate pastor from 1976-1980 and then for my first pastorate from 1989 to 2004. The combined 19-plus years have been among my most memorable and happy years in the priesthood. I feel fortunate to share a special distinction with Fr. Bob Gosma and Fr. Jim Volkert, with both of whom I spent some years serving St. Mary’s. Our common bond is the fact that

175 Years Let the light shine through 175 Years more Congrats St. Mary’s Church, Burlington

35518 W. State Street Burlington, WI 53105 (262) 763-5646


May God continue to bless St. Mary’s Parish with all the graces necessary to be a wonderful beacon of hope and a generous distributer of the Word of God and the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, in the precious gift of Himself received in Holy Communion! Ad multos annos, Fr. David H. Reith, Pastor 1989-2004

Service to home parish has been profound experience St. Mary’s Parish has been a spiritual safe haven and powerhouse of spirituality for 34 out of my 86 years of life. My vocation to School Sisters of Notre Dame was realized through the kindness of Msgr. Kersting and the SSND who taught me in St. Mary’s grade school and high school. Later I taught in the high school here and returned after retiring from

165 E. Chestnut St., Burlington, WI 142497

St. Mary’s Church Congratulations on 175 Years of Faith and Commitment to the Burlington Community

LUCKY STAR RESTAURANT 864 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington, WI

(262) 763-2155


teaching in 1999 to serve as pastoral assistant in ministry to the sick, hospitalized, and homebound. Serving here has been a profound experience. It was a great privilege to work with such a faith-filled staff, dedicated priests and kind, generous lay people. My admiration continues as we witness dedication beyond the call of duty. We all work together, reach out to one another as we strive to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. St. Mary’s has helped to form sturdy roots for our faith, and has anchored us firmly with solid values and a growing spirituality. Thank you, God, for the great blessing our beloved parish has been and continues to be. Sister Mary Joyce Merten, School Sisters of Notre Dame

I would not be a priest without St. Mary’s St. Mary’s is one of the oldest parishes in the Archdiocese, and I’m proud to be the 59th vocation from St. Mary’s. That’s a very large number coming from any parish! I know the seeds of my vocation were sown from attending the school, walking the grounds and worshipping there. I served on the parish staff in the summer, 2001 and again in the spring and summer, 2002. I would not be a priest without St. Mary’s parish. Fr. Nathan Reesman, Pastor, St. Francis Cabrini Church, West Bend

St. Mary’s Church, Burlington Congratulations on 175 Years of Health and Faith to the Burlington Area


ROESING FURNITURE 29131 Evergreen Drive Waterford, WI (262) 534-3131

each of us has served this congregation twice. Fr. Bob came back to serve as a temporary administrator and Fr. Jim came back to serve as pastor. I have many special memories of my years serving at St. Mary’s with all that goes on every day on the campus that has grown over the years. But, what I remember most vividly is the power of faith in Jesus Christ lived out in the lives of the parishioners that has made this such a special community of faith. My faith and my priesthood have been enriched by my sharing in the life of this faith community.

(262) 763-7709

Chad Novasic P.T. 1300 S. Green Bay Rd. Racine, WI


God has blessed St. Mary Parish with great people





to St. Mary’s on their 175 years of service to the Burlington Community! !

Dr. Sharon Ruetz-Smith & Dr. Tim Smith

700 N. Pine St., Burlington, Wis.

Keep Smiling


(262) 763-2575


Page 12

ST. MARY’S 175th

December 2013


The steeple on the hill  
The steeple on the hill  

175th anniversary celebration of Immaculate Conception St. Mary Parish of Burlington, Wis.