St. Mary's History

HISTORY OF ST. MARY PARISH

Founded in 1856, St. Mary's Church has a rich history, and has played a vital role in the community of Mayville. The Rev. Father Rehrl, first missionary of all the old churches around that area, attended it for a number of years.

An event that marked the beginning of the parish occurred September 22, 1857 when a warranty deed to purchase land for a church was drawn up among four trustees, the Town of Williamstown, Dodge County, the State of Wisconsin, and Bishop John Martin Henni.  On this deed the church is given the title "Roman Catholic Church, Sanctae Mariae boni consilii of Mayville." Translated this is, St. Mary under the patronage of her title, MOTHER OF GOOD COUNSEL.       The Feast of Mary, Mother of Good Counsel, the patron feast of the parish, is celebrated on April 26th each year.

At that time, among the early settlers who took an active and earnest interest in the advancement of Catholic affairs were Messrs. Henninger, M. Ziegler, Boehmer and Schwartz.

The first priest to assume duties as regular pastor was Father Hennsler, who with his successors, Fathers Lange and Metzger, took care of the parish until 1875. From 1875 until 1881, the Rev. Father Woelfl resided there as permanent pastor.       During the latter part of that period a new church was built.       After Father Woelfl was transferred to another parish, Mayville became a mission to Theresa and was attended from that parish by the regular incumbent until 1896. The pastors in charge of the mission during that period were the Rev. Fathers Lette, Huber, Vogt, and Ollig.

In its earlier years this parish, though limited in its membership, had its own church. This was kept in constant use until the year 1881 when the second church, a brick edifice, was erected. This work was accomplished under the direction and personal supervision of the pastor then in charge, the Rev. Father Woelfl.  Records indicate that by 1885 there were 78 membership units involved at the parish.

Father Joseph Heder, served St. Mary from 1896 to 1915. Under his direction the parish built a school in 1904, and the rectory in 1915. The sister's convent was built circa 1916.  It housed the Sisters of St. Agnes, who staffed the school at that time, and continued to staff it until 1978.       During this time the mission church of St. Malachy, Horicon, was also cared for at regular intervals by Father Heder.

St. Mary was served by Father Joseph Ritger from 1915-1922, and Father R. Kramer for over 20 years. Father Kramer retired at the end of 1943 due to failing eyesight. He was succeeded by Father Robert Bier.  He served only a few years, but under his direction work was begun to provide St. Mary with a church hall.

Father Cyril Spiegelhoff became pastor in June 1946, when the hall was completed, and the church interior was improved and redecorated.  He also directed formation of a CYO unit.

Father Spiegelhoff was succeeded by Father Joseph Brasky who only served briefly.  Then Father Oliver Zinnen, a former Navy chaplain, gave 17 years of service to the parish.  During Father Zinnen's pastorate, the present St. Mary's School was built to accommodate the day school and the CCD program.  The building consists of 8 classrooms, gym and kitchen.  Also a large area for a children's playground was provided.  During this time Father John Rausch was an associate pastor with Father Brasky, and Father Edward Vogel assisted Father Zinnen; each for a short period of two years.  Father Robert Glisch and Father Robert Maney also assisted Father Zinnen for short periods of time.

Father Carroll Gunther became pastor in 1971.       Under his supervision, the existing church was built next to the old facility. The old church was razed to provide a parking lot.  A new tower was erected next to the church to house the bells from the old structure.

Father Charles Verhalen served the parish from August 1981 until June of 1993.       At that time Father Charles Wester became the pastor.

In 1994 the church offices were moved out of the rectory into the former parish convent, now referred to as the Parish Center.  Currently the parish secretary, Julie Spittel, and the parish bookkeeper, Rose Wild, have offices there.

On July 1, 1998 St. Mary’s entered into a formal collaboration with St. Andrew Parish, LeRoy.  Both parishes, while maintaining their own identity, are served by a single pastor.

In the fall of 1998 St. Mary’s School, which then had eight grades housed in eight classrooms, opened a campus at St. Andrew, LeRoy.  St. Andrew’s campus housed the Day Care, Pre-School, Kindergarten programs, along with the first and second grades. The other grades remain at the Mayville campus, freeing up two rooms for use as a computer lab and a room for art and music programs.  The St. Andrew's campus closed in the fall of 2009.

In 1998-1999 Oriol Regales, who was completing his studies at St. Francis seminary in Milwaukee served his internship at St. Mary's/St. Andrew's.  He was ordained into the priesthood at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee on May 19, 2001.

Willis Heideman, a parish member, was ordained to the Diaconate on June 8, 2002.  He has served St. Mary's/St. Andrew's as a Deacon since that time.

On Tuesday, June 21, 2005 Father Wester retired and moved to Eden.  He will assist at various parishes in the Fond du Lac/Dodge County area.  On the same day, Father Thomas Biersack was welcomed to the parish.  Father Tom last served at St. Alphonsus Parish at New Munster in Kenosha County.  He grew up in the Barton/West Bend area.

In the summer of 2009, renovations were made to St. Mary's School to accommodate the move of the Day Care - 2nd Grade from LeRoy to Mayville.  All classes are now held in Mayville.

On June 18, 2013 St. Theresa Parish, Theresa merged with St. Mary's / St. Andrew's.