History of St. Casimir's Church
This congregation was established in 1871 by the Rev. Joseph Dabrowski, rector of Polonia Polish congregation in Portage County, Wisconsin. Hull, where St. Casimir’s is situated is about four miles from Stevens Point and nine miles from Polonia. At this place Father Dabrowski built a little chapel, attending to the spiritual wants of these people until the fall of 1875, when the Rev. Josaphat Walun was appointed first resident pastor. He remained until October 1878 moving afterwards to Stevens Point, where he died in November 1881. Father Walun built the present church during his pastorate in 1877. (The church, which appears in the early photograph on page 8.)
is successor was the Rev. J. Czarnowski, who took charge of the pastorate in October 1879 and remained until May 1886. He completed the interior work and finishing of the church, among other things purchasing three altars for which he paid $1,000.
After Father Czarnowski resigned the congregation of St. Casimir’s was for seven months without a pastor. Then the Rev. Lucas Pescinski took charge on November 28, 1886, remaining until April 15, 1895. He built the present parochial school during the year at a cost of $3,500. The enrollment now numbers about one hundred and eighty scholars, with the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in charge.
An interesting account of the dedication of the school appeared in the Stevens Point journal dated Oct. 6, 1888. (From a selection of clippings compiled by Alex Wallace).
Rev. Pescinski informs us that the dedication of St. Casimir’s school has been postponed until October 11. A procession of members of the church and others from the town of Hull will arrive in the city on the morning of the 10th and be received by Bishop Katzer at Father Alton’s house on Clark St. The dedication will take place the day following at 10:30 A.M. preceded by solemn high mass. Dinner will be served to holders of tickets and all will be made welcome. The fair will commence on the 9th and continue three days.’
After Father Pescinski, the Rev. Ladislaus Grabowski assumed the duties from April 15, 1895 to February 1896. He died at Hull on the 25th of that month and is buried at Polonia He was succeeded by the Rev. N. Kolasinski in March 1896, who is the present incumbent.
Of Catholic societies in St. Casimir’s congregation there were: the Holy Rosary Society, one hundred and fifty members, organized October, 1879; St. Casimir’s Benevolent Society, forty members, organized 1888, and the Apostleship of Prayer, three hundred and fifty members, organized 1891. The congregation at the present time consists of eighty Polish, four German and two English families, making a total of over nine hundred souls in all.
The Rev. Nicodemus Kolasinski, the present pastor of St. Casimir’s congregation at Hull, was born on the 14th of September 1846 at Mielec, in Galicia, Austria. His classical studies were acquired at the Gymnasium of Tarnow and Cracow and those in philosophy and theology at the University of Vienna, Austria. He was ordained to the priesthood on the 18th of September, 1875 by His Eminence Luigi Monchini, Cardinal and Archbishop of Bologna, Italy. From 1875 to 1878 he was assistant pastor in Gross-Siegharts, of the diocese of St. Polten, Austria. From 1878 to 1884 he was rector of the parish at Schoenau, near Vienna; from 1884 to 1893, rector of Berea and Toledo, in the diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, and from 1893 to 1896 pastor of the congregations at Amherst Junction and Hull in the diocese of Green Bay"
(The account above is contained in "The Catholic Church in Wisconsin," published by Catholic Historical Publishing Co., Milwaukee, Wis. 1895-1898.)
PARISH BUILDINGS AS THEY APPEARED BETWEEN 1905-1913
Further details of the parish history are given in this article written by Fr. James E. Noonan, O.M.T. and printed in the La Crosse diocesan newspaper in 1955.
St. Casimir’s Church is located three miles north of Stevens Point, near highway 51. The parish was organized in 1871 by Father Joseph Dabrowski, pastor of Sacred Heart Church at Polonia. There was no Polish Catholic church at Stevens Point at that time. The present highway 51 was a Pony Express road. Indian trails were used for travel and people walked as many as 20 miles to get to church. So Father Dabrowski asked Bishop Henni of Milwaukee to allow him to build a church at this location. With permission granted, the erection of a little church was started in 1871, to be known as ‘The Little Chapel.’ Father Dabrowski attended this little chapel on horseback. The locality became known as Casimir.
Father Walun became the first residential pastor of St. Casimir’s. Mary Ann Kieliszewski was the first person baptized by him, May 7, 1875. Father Walun was buried at St. Casimir’s on Nov. 29, 1881. Father J. Czarnowski succeeded Father Walun, to be followed by Father Pescinski in 1886.
By this time the parish consisted of about 200 families. Baptisms ranged between 60 and 75 per year.
A meeting held in December 1886, is the parish’s oldest record. The minutes were written and signed by the then secretary of the parish, Stephen Tetzlaff.
A this meeting the parish decided to build a school. The following were elected as a building committee in November, 1887: Joseph Jerzak, Joseph Boyarski, Xavier Winkler, Jacob Ruta, John Kieliszewski, Matis Baker, Joseph Krajecki, Theophil Kutela, John Konopacki, John Sharkowski, Ignac Bachinski, and John Laszewski.
The foundation for the school was laid in1886.
Minutes of Special Meeting
It was also decided at a meeting in 1888 that each family pay $4 a year to cover the expense of running the parish and raising funds for building the school. Single persons could rent a seat in the church for $150 a year. Widows and poor people could have their church dues reduced by applying to the building committee.
Eighty acres of woodland were bought by the parish with the understanding that each family with a team of horses or oxen was to bring one load of wood to the church each year or pay $1 to the church treasury. Those who had no teams were to pay 50 cents or help one day in cutting wood. Widows and persons over 50 years old were excused. The pastor agreed to refund the money paid by the treasury for cutting his wood. These regulations were approved by the Most Rev. Bishop F. Katzer of Green Bay.
The school was finished in October 1888, and Lucas Dziekan, a parishioner, was hired to teach for $20 a month, beginning Nov. 5, 1888. Three sisters from St. Francis were hired to teach at St. Casimir, beginning in the fall of 1888. Two were to teach in the parochial school and one in the district school for $200 a year each. In 1892 the school attendance was 165 children. Two hundred thirteen registered in 1893. Two bells were blessed in 1893. The smaller bell, weighing 503 pounds, was purchased for $104.03, and the other weighing 1,000 pounds, was obtained for $95 plus the old bell in exchange. In 1894 the congregation voted to change the name of the parish from Hull to St. Casimir, Portage County, Wis.
In February 1895, Father Pescinski was succeeded by Father L. Grabowski. During Father Grabowski’s pastorate, agitation to form a new parish at Torun was at its height. Up to this time the territory of St. Casimir comprised the whole district known today as Knowlton and Torun.
In February, 1896, Father Nicodemus Kolasinski succeeded Father Grabowski. We have no records of what took place during his pastorate. In the minutes of a meeting held by the parish, it is stated that by order of His Excellency, Bishop Messmer, the records were destroyed -
In October, 1898, Father T. Malkowski became the successor of Father Kolasinski with Torun attached as a mission. Four months later he was succeeded by Father J. Kula.
In July, 1902, Father L. Kaspera succeeded Father Kula. In October, 1904, Father B. Polaczyk succeeded Father Kaspera.
The present rectory was built during his pastorate. The cost of the building was $5,018. In September, 1909, Father Leo Jankowski succeeded Father Polaczyk and remained at St. Casimir until August, 1916. During this time the wooden church was destroyed by fire. A new brick structure, costing about $5,000, was built and dedicated in November of the same year. (The first couples married in the present church were Stanley Winkler and Sally Gollon and also Sylvester Zywicki and Veronica Bukowski in November, 1913 shortly after the dedication.)
Father Paul Sokol was the successor in August, 1916. Father Pruc followed in August, 1921. Five months later Father J. B. Gruna was appointed to replace Father W. Pruc. Father Gruna reopened the school, which had been closed for a few years.
In May, 1938, Father F. Disher followed Father Gruna. Father Disher left the parish in July, 1942, to serve as a chaplain in the army. Father S. A. Elbert followed. During his pastorate the school was closed because of insufficient numbers. Only 13 attended.
Father Elbert, already in his eighties, beautified the parish grounds by planting trees and erecting, with his own hands, a beautiful grotto.
He was succeeded June 29, 1948, by Father F. J. Brzostowicz.
During his pastorate several improvements were made to parish buildings including the addition of a new furnace room, tuck-pointing and new roof for the church.
Father "Frank’’ retired in August, 1969 and lived in Whiting, Wis. until his death four months later on Dec. 15, 1969. Funeral services were conducted at St. Casimir’s on Dec. 17.
Father Arthur Redmond, present pastor, succeeded Father Brzostowicz on Aug. 6. 1969.
An updated list of Pastors as of Feb. 19, 2006:
- Rev. Arthur Redmond Aug. 1969 to Nov. 1982
- Rev. Edwin Stanek Nov. 1982 to Nov. 1994
- Rev. Joseph Diermeier Feb. 1995 to Aug. 1995
- Rev Donald Walczak Aug. 1995 to Apr. 2001
- Rev. Wesley Janowski July 2001 to Present
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