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    HISTORY OF SAINT PATRICK CHURCH    

 


 

The history of St. Patrick parish begins with the earliest settlers in the Hudson area, when Wisconsin was still a territory.

In 1840, two young Frenchmen, Louis Massey and Peter Bouchea, started a settlement on the banks of the Willow and St. Croix Rivers. The town was called Willow River, then Buena Vista and finally renamed Hudson in 1852. Both of these pioneers were Catholic and they became the first parishioners of the Catholic Church. They were followed by other French-Indian Catholic families who lived by hunting and fishing.

Before Massey and Bouchea settled here, others stayed in the valley during the trapping seasons and it is recorded that Mass was offered in this locality by itinerant missionaries, among them Father Gaultier, the famous priest-explorer.

 

The first record of a Mass in the city of Hudson was offered in January of 1855 by Father George Keller. He was stationed in St. Paul from 1855 to 1856. He would visit the Catholic settlers of Willow River (Hudson) at various intervals.

It was in the fall of 1856 that Bishop John Martin Henni of Milwaukee became interested in the growing Catholic settlement along the St. Croix River. He sent Father J.J. McGee to be the first resident Catholic priest in the newly renamed town of Hudson. He found 1101 people there that year and within two short years the population had more than doubled to 2500.

Father McGee at once began the erection of a church. A frame building, 30x50 feet was built at the southeast corner of Second and St. Croix Streets on a piece of land donated by Louis Massey.

The building was completed and Holy Mass celebrated for the first time in the spring of 1857. The new church was dedicated to St. James. Bishop John Martin Henni, Milwaukee, blessed the Church on September 19, 1859 and on the next day 119 people received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the new building. During this time a rectory was built a block north of the church which was noted for its unusual cupola on the roof.

According to the Hudson North Star, the weekly newspaper for October 3, 1860, the Catholic church bell, the first church bell in Hudson, was raised in the new tower of St. James' church. According to the story, the bell weighed 2000 pounds and cost 10 cents per pound. "It was rung morning, noon and night and at the hours of service."

 
 

Several priests came and went and the parish continued to grow. On June 20, 1868, Father Chrsostom Verwyst arrived at the parish. In addition to the Hudson congregation, he attended to the mission churches of Clayfield, Oak Grove, River Falls, Prescott, Schwalen Settlement, East Farmington and Somerset. Father Verwyst made many improvements to his parish, establishing the parochial school, purchasing land southwest of town for a cemetery. Recognizing that the present church could not accommodate the growing parish, he secured the purchase of land at the corner of Fourth and St. Croix Streets for a new church. However, he was reassigned before construction of the new church could begin.

 

Father Peter Lavin arrived in Hudson next, but was

succeeded six months later by Father Martin Connelly, who arrived in October of 1872 and immediately began the erection of a larger church building on the corner of Fourth and St. Croix. The cornerstone was blest and laid on August 23, 1874. It took several years to complete the building.     



On November 15, 1874, Bishop Michael Heiss of La Crosse blessed and dedicated the new Church under the patronage of St. Patrick of Ireland. The church saw two major additions during its history.


 
 

The rectory was built in 1875 by Father Thomas A. Kelly, who succeeded Father Connelly. Father Kelly installed the bell in the steeple and organized a branch of Catholic Knights of Wisconsin during his stay.

Father John A. Barney came to St. Patrick in 1889 as its eleventh resident priest. He remained there for the next 36 years and his was the longest pastorate in the history of the parish. It was during his first year that the two story red brick school building was erected for $7000. The original school building was demolished in 1953 to make room for a new school and gymnasium.

 
 

The school was originally staffed by the Sisters of St. Francis, LaCrosse. During the time, a sanctuary and sacristy were added to the Church building under Monsignor Barney.

In 1905 the Sisters of St. Agnes from Fond du Lac came to Hudson to take charge of teaching at the school. The Knights of Columbus Council #1762 was chartered in 1914. Father Peter Rice was pastor from 1925 to 1934 and Monsignor John M. Owens from 1934 to 1962. Both had a powerful impact on the growth of the Catholic community and both are buried in the Catholic cemetery. Msgr. Owens made improvements to both the church and the rectory.

 

1953 was a busy year with a new school building being erected and the old one being torn down. The school was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Joseph J. Annabring, Diocese of Superior, in 1955. The second Vatican Council reinforced St. Patrick priorities of total parish religious education in 1959.

 

In August of 1963 the Carmelite Sisters came to Hudson and established their monastery at 430 Laurel Avenue.

      

 

In 1970 the Parish Council, with its four standing committees of liturgy, education, witness and stewardship, was established for greater involvement of the laity.

 
 

The final payment on the school mortgage was made during our country's bicentennial year, 1976. As the parish continued to grow, the need for a larger church became a topic for Pastor Alex Anton. An in-depth appraisal of the church properties was done in 1974. At that time, the total market value of the church rectory, school and cemetery was estimated at $1,297,000. Although a committee formed and designs were made, there was no new building. Father Robert O'Connell oversaw an extensive renovation project on the church interior which was successfully completed in 1979. In 1980, two houses on Fourth Street were purchased for the future re-building of the church parking lot. The following year, the St. Patrick School gymnasium and kitchen were renamed the Owens Center in honor of Monsignor John M. Owens.

 

A new Sisters of St. Agnes Convent was purchased and renovated in 1983, leaving the second floor of the school available to expand the Religious Education Center and the school facilities.  That convent was sold and moved to make way for the expansion of the school in 2002.  The sisters were moved to a residence on 4th Street that was eventually sold to the Day Care Center next door

 

In the late 1980's, the need for a new church was again addressed and land finally purchased on the outskirts of town in 1988. After the ground breaking on April 8,1990, construction began at 1500 Vine Street. The new church was dedicated on June 9, 1991 under the direction of Fr. Peter Szleszinski.


 




 






PRIESTS OF SAINT PATRICK PARISH






George Keller 1855 - 1856 
 J. J. McGee 1856 - 1857
 A. Godfert 1857 - 1859
 Napolean Mignault 1859 - 1861
 Nicholas Stehle1861 - 1865
 Sebastian Seif1865 - 1868
 Chrysostom A. Verwyst 1868 - 1872
 Peter J. Lavin1872
 Martin C. Connelly1872 - 1875
 Edward Coleman1875
 Thomas A. Kelly1875 - 1889
 John A. Barney1889 - 1924
 Ignatius Kinney1924 - 1925
 Peter Rice1925 - 1934
 John M. Owens1934 - 1962
 James Taylor1949 - 1951
 John Regh1953 - 1956
 Frederick Brost1956 - 1957
 John P. Slowey1957 - 1958
 Joseph Canfield1958 - 1965 
 James Griffin1962 - 1967
 Robert Baranow1965 - 1967
 Pat Dalton 1965
 David R. King1967 - 1970
 James Hoffman1967 - 1971
 Alex P. Anton1970 - 1977
 Dennis Dhooge1971 - 1976
 Thomas P. Keilen1976 - 1980
 Robert E. O'Connell1977 - 1986
Brian M. Dubois 1980 - 1984
James J. Brinkman 1984 - 1986
Peter F. Szleszinski 1986 - 2005
 James L. Blastic1986
 Gerald R. Fuller1986 - 1988
Gabriel Biondolillo 1988 - 1989
 Joseph Knoeber1989
 Gerard I. Willger1989 - 1992
Raymond L. Gonia 1992 - 1993
 Tommy Thompson1993 - 1995
 Maryon Jordan, O.S.B.1995 
 Ron Olson1996
 William Murphy1996 - 1997
 Lewis Burden Jr.1997 - 1998
 James Kinney1998 - 2000
Ryan Erickson 2000 - 2002
John Parr 2003 - 2009
 Daniel Dahlberg2009 - 2011
 William Brenna2009 - 2010
 Gene Murphy2010 - 2012
 John Gerritts2012
 Patrick McConnell2012 - 2016
  
  
  
  



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