St Peter's Catholic Church


Visit St. Peter's Website.

St. Peter's history is the best documented in the county. The first published history covered the first 50 years. As a reminder of St. Peter's ethnic origins about 75% of the book is written in Polish. All of the pictures here have the original Polish captions.

Presented here is the English part, about 25% of the book. Also, the Parish Regulations, Cemetery Regulations, and School Regulations are presented.

The 75th Anniversary history and the 100th Anniversary history will be presented in the future.

A BRIEF HISTORY
of
ST. PETER'S POLISH CONGREGATION
Stevens Point, Wis.

Already before the year 1860 some Polish families have settled in Stevens Point. Others preferred to live on farms and have settled in the town of Sharon, near St. Martin's Church. On July 20th, 1860, Rev. John Polak, born of noble parents in Poland A. D. 1818, became pastor of St. Stephen's Catholic Congregation in Stevens Point, Wis., which was the only Catholic Congregation in Stevens Point, composed of Irish, French, German and a few Polish families. Father Polak did much to induce the Polish people to settle in Portage County. During his pastorate in the year 1861 Bishop Henni of Milwaukee visited St. Stephen's parish, celebrating the first Confirmation ever held at Stevens Point. From Stevens Point Father Polak attended to the spiritual wants of St. Martin's Congregation at Sharon, composed of German and Polish families. On account of the rapid settlement of Polish families this place was called Poland Corners. Failing health, however, compelled him to resign in March 1862 and two months later he died at the Sisters' Hospital in Milwaukee. In 1863 the Polish settlement at Sharon had increased to forty-four families, and as the church had become altogether too small to accommodate the entire congregation, they decided to form a parish of their own. The undertaking was thoroughly approved by Bishop Henni, who in the following year sent Rev. Bonaventure Buczynski to organize the congregation and superintend the erection of the church. These people, though poor, were very liberal, and before the end of a year, St. Joseph's Church stood complete, in a site not far removed from that of St. Martin's. From this time the population of Poland Corners began to increase rapidly, so that it soon assumed the proportions of a fair sized town, and became the central point of the Polish settlements in Portage County. To this St. Joseph's Church the Polish families from Stevens Point attended until the year 1876. In June 1876,  Father Bogacki was sent to Stevens Point to organize there a separate Polish Congregation; he assembled the fifty Polish families then in the city, in St. Stephen's school-house, raised $800.00 to begin a Polish Church under the name of St. Peter's and separated the Poles from St. Stephen's Church.

For the sum of $800.00 the new Congregation bought four lots with a house from Mr. Emil Peikert. This house served as the Rector's residence for a number of years. A church building was erected the same year for the sum of $3,000.00.

Rev. Father Bogacki was Rector of St. Peter's Parish from. June 1876, to April 15, 1877. His successor was the Rev. January Czarnowski, who remained here as rector for only five months, from May 1877, to September 1877. After him the Rev. Albert Bukowski assumed pastoral duties from September 1877 to the middle of May 1878. Rev. Josaphat Walun from Casimir became rector of St. Peter's Church from October 1878 to the first of September 1881. On account of poor health and disturbances in the congregation he was obliged to resign and retired to the home of Mr. Fr. Bulmanski, where he died on November 29th, 1881. His remains were buried in the Cemetery of St. Casimir's Church, Hull, Wis. Rev. J. J. Zawistowski was administrator of the parish for two months, until the death of Rev. Walun. After the death of Rev. Walun the congregation was left without a rector for one year.

In November, 1882, the Rev. E. J. Slowikowski became rector of St. Peter's Church. He built a new parsonage at a cost of $2,500.00. In 1883 the Congregation was incorporated under the laws of the State of Wisconsin. He remained as pastor until May 23, 1884, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Anthony Leks. The pastorate of Father Leks was from May 23 1884, to November 1888, the longest of any of his predecessor. He has repaired the church, brick veneered it. In 1887 he bought from the City a public school building with four lots for the sum of $1,000.00. He engaged the Sisters of Notre Dame to conduct the parochial school. In November 1888, the Rev. L. Grabowski succeeded Father Leks as pastor until January 5th, 1891.

He built  a Sisters' home for the sum of $2,400.00, and enlarged and renewed the church at a cost of $1,200.00.

After Father Grabowski, Rev. Z. Wozny took charge of St. Peter's Congregation from January 5th, 1891, until May 1st, 1894. He furnished for the church a new main altar and a large bell and also repaired the church steeples.

On May 1st, 1894, Rev. Q. Zielinski of Menasha became the pastor of St. Peter's Church. Under his pastorate the Sisters of Notre Dame left the parish and the school was under the supervision of two lady teachers, Miss Martha Michalski and Miss Laura Lukaszewicz for one year. On September 1st, 1896, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph's Convent in 

Milwaukee agreed to take charge of the parochial school and conducted the same with satisfaction. On October 18th, 1896, Sunday after Vespers the church building and the rector's residence were destroyed by fire. On account of dissatisfaction and discord in the congregation, Father Q. Zielinski was obliged to leave the parish on November 15th, 1896. During one month the Rev. W. Kolasinski from Casimir attended the parish as administrator.

On December 23rd, 1896, Rev. L. J. Pescinski of Menasha was appointed rector of St. Peter's Congregation. In 1897 the new church was built and completed, including the inside furniture for the sum of $24,000.00.

FACTS OF INTEREST DURING THE PASTORATE OF REV. L. J. PESCINSKI

  • December 24th, 1896 - Funeral of Paul Firkus, aged 83. The first official act as pastor of St. Peter's.
  • The divine services were held in the school house until December 19th, 1897, when the new church building was solemnly dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Sebastian G. Messmer, Bishop of Green Bay.
  • May 3, 1897 - The contract for the new building was given to Joseph Hutter of Fond du Lac, for the sum of $15,150.00.
  • July 11, 1897 - The corner stone was blessed by the Rev. J. J. Fox, Vicar General, Green Bay, Wis.
  • Dec. 18th, 1897 - The evening previous to the dedication of the church, two new church bells were blessed by the Rt. Rev. Bishop. The English sermon was delivered by the Very Rev, Joseph Rainer, President of St. Francis Seminary, St. Francis, Wis. The Polish sermon was delivered by the Rev. T. Grenbowski of Polonia.
  • December 19th, 1897 - The dedication of the new church. The Polish sermon was delivered by the Rev. P. Szulerecki of Milwaukee.
  • December 25th, 1897 - First Holy Communion of 72 children.
  • February 20th, 1898 - Blessing of the Stations of the Cross and new pipe organ - cost $1,600.
  • February 22nd, 1898 - First Mass of the newly ordained Rev. Leo Jankowski.
  • April 30th, 1898 - Funeral services for the Rev. Victor Lebiecki who died at Amherst Junction on April 27th.
  • December 4th, 1898 - Confirmation of 143 persons.
  • January 22nd, 1899 - Ordination of the Rev. John Pociecha by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Messmer.
  • June 25th, 1899- First Communion of 124 children.
  • December 12th to 14th, 1899 - Forty Hours Adoration, at which about one thousand persons approached the Holy Sacraments.
  • July 11th, 1900 - First Communion of 70 children.
  • July 25th, 1900 - Six young ladies left as candidates to St. Joseph's Convent in Milwaukee.
  • March 31st to April 2nd, 1901 - Forty Hours Adoration and Easter confessions. About 1,500 were heard.
  • June 9th, 1901 - First Communion of 71 children.
  • June 23rd to 30th, 1901 - Mission conducted by the Fathers of the Resurrection of Chicago, Ill.
  • June 30th, 1901 -Jubilee celebration and Confirmation of about 323 persons. The Mission conducted by three Polish Fathers of the Resurrection was very well attended by throngs of people, not only from the City, but also from the neighboring country parishes. In all, about 3,000 people approached the Holy Sacraments during the Mission.

On June 30th, St. Peter's Congregation celebrated the Jubilee and its 25th Anniversary. The Rt. Rev. Sebastian G. Messmer. Bishop of Green Bay, celebrated a Pontifical High Mass at 10 A. M., being assisted by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. J. J. Fox, V. G., as Presbyter: Rev. Francis Manel, OFM. from Pulaski as Deacon: Rev. M. Klosowski as Subdeacon. The Revs. J. Smiech and F. Baczewicz acted as Honorary Deacons. The Jubilee sermon was delivered both in English and Polish by the Rev. J. Kosinski, C. R., Vice-President of St. Stanislaus College, Chicago, Ill. Other priests present were: Reverends, J. Ziemba, C. R., Superior of the Missionary Fathers: J. Zapala, C. R. of Chicago; T. Grenbowski of Polonia; S. Kasperski of Pike Lake; S. Kubiszewski of Fancher; L. Jankowski of Alban; S. A. Elbert of Plover: Fr. Jachimiak of Mill Creek: J. Gara of Junction City: and Wm. Rice and J. Schemmer of this City.

In the afternoon of the same day, at 3:30 P. M., the Rt. Rev. Bishop confirmed a class of 323 persons. In his address to the confirmed the Rt. Rev. Bishop expressed his gratification over the good success of the Mission and admonished all to persevere in the work of Salvation and Sanctification of their souls until the end of their lives.

In the evening at 7:30 P. M. the Mission and Jubilee celebration closed with the blessing of the Mission Cross, a procession around the church and with the solemn Papal Benediction bestowed upon the faithful by the Rt. Rev. Bishop himself.

ST. JOSEPHS POLISH SCHOOL SISTERS

On July 1st, 1901, by permission and consent of the Rt. Rev. Sebastian G. Messmer a new religious community of Polish School Sisters of St. Joseph was organized, with a motherhouse to be erected at Stevens Point, Wis.

About 42 Polish Sisters, who have separated from the German St. Joseph's Convent and Motherhouse at Milwaukee, Greenfield Park Ave., have been enrolled as members of the new Polish School Sisters Community.

The Rt. Rev. Bishop appointed the Sister M. Felicia of Stevens Point as the acting Mother Superior of the new religious community and the Rev. L. J. Pescinski as spiritual director pro tem.

The new Polish School Sisters Community has also received the Episcopal sanction from the Rt. Rev. James Schwebach, Bishop of La Crosse, Rt. Rev. John S. Foley, Bishop of Detroit, Mich. Approbation by the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, Rt. Rev. Muldoon was given in the name of Archbishop Feehan.

Cardinal Martinelli, the Apostolic Delegate for the United States has permitted the Sisters to remain at their respective places and to await the final sanction from Rome.

FACTS OF INTEREST DURING THE PASTORATE OF REV. S. A. ELBERT.

After many years of hard labor, the Rev. L. J. Pescinski left St. Peter's Parish on December 12th, 1909. The post of rector was assumed by the Rev. S. A. Elbert, it being the explicit wish of the Rt. Rev. Bishop Fox, now of pious memory. The numerous difficulties obstructing the proper exercise of the pastoral duties, with the help of God and the good will of the parishioners were overcome, and in a comparatively short space of time, everything went along smoothly, guided by the principles of brotherly love. The debt under which the parish has been laboring was paid off, and a new system in paying parish dues was introduced. At the suggestion of Father Elbert education in the parish school was given free of charge to children of the parishioners and in the higher grades text books were also furnished.

Strictly speaking, the parish lacked an adequate rectory. Within his first year as rector of St. Peter's Congregation, Father Elbert built a brick rectory at a cost of $5,227.25 which sum also included the steam heating system and electric lights. Thanks for the extremely low cost of the building are due to Mr. J. Bukolt and Company.

Furniture for the new rectory

As always has been the case, wherever there was a chance of doing anything good from the material standpoint, so also here the Holy Rosary Ladies together with the society, furnished the new rectory with the necessary furniture.

  • The Rt. Rev, Bishop Fox blessed the new rectory.
  • Numerous improvements have been made in the school building and a new steam heating system and sanitary toilets were installed.
  • The school having proved itself to be too small, was enlarged by four classes, and the 7 and 8 grades were opened according to the requirements of the State. A fine library of 300 choice volumes in the Polish language was also funded.
  • The outside appearance of the church was improved greatly. New stone steps were placed and the sides made of cement blocks. In the church steam heating was installed at a cost of $4,000.
  • The interior of the church was decorated at a cost of $1,600, furnished through the earnest efforts of the Rev. Rector. The paintings on the ceiling in the church were paid for from private donations.
  • At a cost of $4,600.00 a new sanctuary and the present sacristies were added to the church. This cost did not include the wiring.
  • Through the generosity of Mr. J. Bukolt, a beautiful main altar, costing $1,875.00, was furnished.
  • Mrs. A. Derezinski, now of pious memory, presented two Angels, placed near the Communion railing. Mrs. J. Cizewski donated the large eternal lamp. Mrs. Victoria Kozyczkowska, of pious memory, donated two large Angels for the main altar.
  • The statue of Sr. Rose is a gift of the Rev. Rector as also is the sanctuary window. Paintings on the ceiling are gifts of Anna Okraj, Anna and Aloysius Firkus, Szalewska and P. Firkus, Victoria Lorbiecki, N. Urbanowski and P. Kujawa; each person has donated $50 and the III Order $25.00 for this purpose.
  • For the greater glory of God and harmony, Mrs. Anna Okraj presented two bells at a cost of $517.00.
  • On the 19th of December, 1915, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Paul Rhode paid the Congregation his first visit and at the same time blessed the new sanctuary, the beautiful main altar and the new bells. The priests present at this ceremony were: Rev. Paciecha; Rev. M. Klosowski; Rev. Polaczyk: Rev. Pescinski; Rev. Ehr; Rev. Rice and Rev. Barthelme of Custer. There was also present one of the former assistant priests, Rev. Peter Banka.
  • Through the efforts of the Rev. Pastor the northwest lot, adjoining the parish, was purchased. It is now used as a driveway for heavy deliveries. The lot was purchased by the Rev. Pastor for $1,000 and given as a present to the Congregation.
  • The church basement was equipped to serve as a hall at a cost of $6,000. This included electric lights, a stage for theatrical performances and a kitchen with all the necessary utensils.
  • The new Sisters' home with heating, electric lights and other equipment was built for the sum of $20,000.
  • The parish garage was put up for $400.
  • The grotto in the garden is a gift of the Rev. Pastor and the builder Mr. M. Gasiorowski.
  • New windows were furnished to the church during the Golden Jubilee year at a cost of $2,250.

The above is just a brief sketch of the most important facts which have taken place during his pastorate. He has always tried hard to make the Congregation as independent as possible from the material point of view. His seventeen years of labor in this parish have been just a series of endeavors lo work always for the good of St. Peter's Congregation of Stevens Point. If this work has brought a good name to the Congregation, and also a reputation, it is due to the ceaseless and untiring efforts of its Rev. Pastor, not excluding, however, the good will and offerings of the parishioners, without which, even the best of intentions would not have been carried out. As it is, the parishioners can now with pride look at those buildings put up through their generosity, and can graduate themselves upon such a noble achievement. Many of the founders are no more with us but, it is not to be doubted, that today they are also sharing our joys and happiness in the Great Beyond, and invoking upon us Almighty God's blessing, and a reward for our troubles when the time comes for us to depart from this vale of tears.

EXPENDITURES DURING THE SIXTEEN YEARS of FATHER ELBERT'S PASTORATE

Paid off debt on the school building and other small debts $20,000.00
Land for the new Cemetery. 191, acres 2000.00
Improvements in the school and new lots for recreational purposes. 6,300.00
New rectory, heating, furniture and lighting 6,000.00
Restoration of the outside and inside of the church, stone steps, new sanctuary with sacristies, new altars, statues, eternal lamp. bells and decorating 14,500.00
New parish hall with all equipment 6,000.00
New Sisters' Home with furniture, heating, lighting and other equipment 20,000.00
Parish Garage 400.00
New windows to the church 2.975,00
Stations of the Cross 672.00
Three new copes, monstrance and chalice 980.00
New furniture for the rectory for Father Elberts Silver Jubilee, Holy Rosary and other Societies 463.00
Decorating of the church 950.00
Paid to the new St. Stanislaus Parish, not including two collections, etc 5,000.00
To the Diocese of Green Bay for institutions 3,476.00
 
TOTAL $89,716.00
In the above statement smaller expenses for necessary repairing and improvement are not included.

It must also be noted that to realize this great amount of money, the Parish Committee, Messrs. Joseph Worzalla and Francis Bojar, has also worked willingly together with the Rev. Pastor.

ASSISTANT PRIESTS AT SAINT PETER's CHURCH

During the pastorate of Fr. Pescinski.

Rev. Florian Matuszewski, Rev. J. Kruszynski, Rev. M. Klosowski, Rev. Ant. Malkowski. The above priests were not regular assistants, but for only a certain period of time.

ASSISTANT PRIESTS

Rev. Andrew Forysiak from June 1907 to June 1909.

Rev. Paul Sokol, from June 1909 to January 1910. With the departure of Rev. Sokol, Father Elbert remained alone in the largest parish in the diocese, at that time. After four and a half years, the Rt. Rev. Bishop seeing that further work by the Pastor in a parish of this size would be equivalent to suicide, and at the same time detrimental to the spiritual welfare of the faithful, sent the Rev. W. Pruc in June 1913, who worked faithfully with the Pastor until October 1914, when he was appointed pastor. After Rev. Pruc, the zealous Rev. Ignacy Grad has worked from November 1914 until December 1915. He was succeeded by the good and prudent Rev. Peter Banka, who stayed with us for a very short time, until May 1916.

Rev. F. J. Walejko, a very dear friend of Rev. Banka, succeeded him and worked zealously and with self denial until October, 1918. The school children bid him farewell upon his departure with the deepest regret and sorrow, and when he left the parish, old and young wished him Godspeed and success in his new duties as pastor.

Rev. Peter Nowicki, of Cleveland, Ohio, stayed at St. Peter's for a very short time, until April, 1919. His work however was always marked with zealousness. After he left, again the Franciscan Fathers helped the Rev. Pastor. The greatest of respect is due to these Fathers, as also gratitude for their willing spirit.

In September the Rt. Rev. Bishop sent to us for only a short time, a young, but energetic priest, in the person of Father John Landowski. He stayed with us until January 1920. At that time he left for the army having been appointed chaplain. It was with the greatest of sorrow that he was sent off by the parishioners. Father Landowski was sent into the northwestern Murmansk, in Russia, with the American Expeditionary Forces. As a chaplain, he had many times exposed himself to the danger of enemy fire, comforting the wounded and administering the last Rites of the Church to the faithful sons in the Arctic wilderness. While stationed there, sickness overcame him, but God in His mercy has deemed it better to save him for future work in His vineyard, and brought him back to us. St. Peter's Congregation can truly be proud of her Soldier-chaplain, for Father Landowski is the only Polish chaplain, upon whose breast rested medals for valor on the battlefield of three different nations.

Again the Franciscan Fathers of Pulaski have come to the rescue of the Rev. Pastor and have extended their helping hand until July 1920.

Rev. Victor Hopa, of this parish, was appointed as assistant in June 1920, and remained with us until September 1922. He was succeeded by the Rev. Stan. Ziolkowski of Chicago, from St. Michael the Archangel Parish. However the parish did not have his services for a very long time, because already in August 1923 the Rt. Rev. Bishop has transferred him to a place more suitable for him.

Rev. A. F. Korwin Szymanowski, an elderly priest, of noble parentage, has succeeded Fr. Ziolkowski. He remained with us only two months, because the work here did not answer his abilities. The Franciscan Fathers again were called upon for help and worked here until June 1924, when the Rt. Rev. Bishop sent to us the Rev. Jos. Szupryt.

Rev. Joseph Szupryt from Chicago has proved to be of a very gentle and mild disposition. A true priest of God, he has worked with us zealously and diligently, putting his heart and soul into everything. Whether child or grown up, he was loved by all, and known to all as Father Jo. To the Pastor he proved to be a right hand, willing and obliging. It was with deep regret and sorrow that on the 30th of May the parish bid him a fond farewell and Godspeed, being blessed by all, with the heartiest wishes of success in the new duties as pastor.

Rev. Florian Marmurowicz, recently ordained, of Milwaukee, has been appointed as assistant to the Rev. Pastor. May God bless him in our midst.

(Return to top)

See our Permissions page for use and copyright information.
This website is hosted courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Archives & Area Research Center.