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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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 Stehle||1861 - 1865|
| Sebastian Seif||1865 - 1868|
| Chrysostom A. Verwyst|| 1868 - 1872|
| Peter J. Lavin||1872|
| Martin C. Connelly||1872 - 1875|
| Edward Coleman||1875|
| Thomas A. Kelly||1875 - 1889|
| John A. Barney||1889 - 1924|
| Ignatius Kinney||1924 - 1925|
| Peter Rice||1925 - 1934|
| John M. Owens||1934 - 1962|
| James Taylor||1949 - 1951|
| John Regh||1953 - 1956|
| Frederick Brost||1956 - 1957|
| John P. Slowey||1957 - 1958|
| Joseph Canfield||1958 - 1965 |
| James Griffin||1962 - 1967|
| Robert Baranow||1965 - 1967|
| Pat Dalton|| 1965|
| David R. King||1967 - 1970|
| James Hoffman||1967 - 1971|
| Alex P. Anton||1970 - 1977|
| Dennis Dhooge||1971 - 1976|
| Thomas P. Keilen||1976 - 1980|
| Robert E. O'Connell||1977 - 1986|
|Brian M. Dubois ||1980 - 1984|
|James J. Brinkman ||1984 - 1986|
|Peter F. Szleszinski ||1986 - 2005|
| James L. Blastic||1986|
| Gerald R. Fuller||1986 - 1988|
|Gabriel Biondolillo ||1988 - 1989|
| Joseph Knoeber||1989|
| Gerard I. Willger||1989 - 1992|
|Raymond L. Gonia ||1992 - 1993|
| Tommy Thompson||1993 - 1995|
| Maryon Jordan, O.S.B.||1995 |
| Ron Olson||1996|
| William Murphy||1996 - 1997|
| Lewis Burden Jr.||1997 - 1998|
| James Kinney||1998 - 2000|
|Ryan Erickson ||2000 - 2002|
|John Parr ||2003 - 2009|
| Daniel Dahlberg||2009 - 2011|
| William Brenna||2009 - 2010|
| Gene Murphy||2010 - 2012|
| John Gerritts||2012|
| Patrick McConnell||2012 - 2016|
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