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Parish Timeline

St. Joseph Parish

c. 1823      Redemptorist priests visit Catholic Indians in the area.

1853    July 29 the Vicariate Apostolic of Upper Michigan is erected and the Right Reverend
Frederic Baraga is made first bishop.

1857    January 9 the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie is erected.

    Father Joseph J. Keenan, pastor of St. Patrick Church Fond du Lac, Wisconsin visits Catholic farmers employed to lay the railroad grade.

1864    Father Louis Dael, pastor of St. Mary Church Fond du Lac, Wisconsin visits area and proposes the foundation of a parish.

1865    Father Sebastian Duroc is sent to Escanaba by the Right Reverend Bishop Frederic Baraga as first pastor of St. Joseph Church.  First church is built.  October 23 Bishop Baraga moves to Marquette and the name of the diocese is changed to Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette.

1868    Bishop Baraga dies on January 19.  Addition made to the church building to expand for growing congregation.  Transepts and a new sanctuary are added.  Right Reverend Ignatius Mrak becomes second Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette.

1869    Father Duroc resigns pastorate and returns to his native France.  Father Charles Langner arrives in September.  First Vatican Council opens in Rome on December 8.

1870    New rectory completed and occupied on August 14.  First Vatican Council ends September 1.

1873    New church building is constructed around old building at a cost of $20,000.00.  New church is dedicated by the Right Reverend Ignatius Mrak on December 8.
The second St. Joseph Church 1873-1938
1879    May 16 the Right Reverend John Vertin becomes the third Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette.

1881    Father Langner leaves St. Joseph on June 19.  Father Theodore A. Majerus becomes third pastor.

1882    Father Majerus leaves St. Joseph on February 5.  Father Joseph Niebling arrives on February 12 as the fourth pastor.

1883    Father Niebling retires on January 31.  Retired Bishop Mrak becomes Administrator until August 17 when the Right Reverend John Vertin cede the parish over to the Franciscan Friars of the St. John the Baptist Province of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Father Eugene Buttermann, O.S.F. is made pastor on August 18.

1884    “Old Green School” built and the School Sisters from Notre Dame of Milwaukee, Wisconsin arrive.  First parish school opens on September 8.  School includes kindergarten through grade 9.  First teachers were Sisters M. A. Liguori, superior; M. Dympna; M. Michael; M. Blanch; M. Hyacinth; M. Clementia and M. Adegundis.

1887    French-Canadians leave St. Joseph Church to form St. Anne Church.

1888    First graduating class of St. Joseph High School includes eleven young women who are also granted Teachers’ Certificates.

1890    New convent is completed.  Father Buttermann is succeeded by Father Francis Lings, O.S.F as pastor.

   Father Lings is succeeded by Father William Gausepohl, O.S.F as pastor.

1895    Father Bede Oldegerring, O.F.M. becomes pastor.  (In January 1898 the letters following the Franciscan names was changed from O.S.F to O.F.M.)  On July 21, the newly ordained Father Francis X. Barth, a graduate of St. Joseph School, and ordained on June 29 in Louvain, Belgium celebrated his First Solemn High Mass in St. Joseph Church.  He later becomes pastor of St. Patrick Church.

1898    Three bells are installed in the tower of the church.  The large bell rings an A-flat and is dedicated to the Holy Family. This bell is inscribed with the name Peter Groos.   The medium bell rings a C and is dedicated to St. Francis & St. Anthony.   This bell is inscribed with the name of Rev. Bede Oldegeering. The small bell rings an E-flat and is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the League of the Sacred Heart.  These bells were made by the E. W. Vanduzen Company at the Buckeye Bell Foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

1899    June 7 the Right Reverend Joseph Eis becomes fourth Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette.

1901    2 January Bishop Mrak the second bishop of the diocese and one time administrator of the parish dies.  The Irish break from St. Joseph Parish to form St. Patrick Parish.  Father Eusebius Wagner, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1906    Father Julius Henze, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1914    December 7 the school is destroyed by fire.  After Christmas, classes are resumed in various quarters which had been fitted up during vacation.

1915    Construction of new school begins in June and the school is dedicated on December 12.

1918    Father Francis X. Buschle, O.F.M. becomes pastor.  He was assistant pastor from 1889-1894.

1920    Father Erasmus Dooley, O.F.M. becomes pastor.  He was assistant pastor from 1914-1918.

1922    Father Bertrand Labinski, O.F.M. becomes pastor.  November 14 the Right Reverend Paul Nussbaum, C.P. becomes fifth Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette.

1931    Father Edward Leary, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1935    November 16 the Most Reverend Joseph Plagens becomes sixth Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette.

1937    January 3 the name of the diocese changes to the Diocese of Marquette.  The William Bonifas Auditorium and Gymnasium is built. This building is named for benefactor of this building and the new church, who passed away on November 24, 1936.  His wife, Catherine, would continue to be sole benefactor for the building of the new church and friary.

1938    Congregation moves to the Bonifas Gymnasium for Masses.  Old Church is torn down and cornerstone laid for new building.  Foeller, Schober & Berniers Architects of Green Bay, Wisconsin design new church and A.M. Arntzen of Escanaba is construction contractor.

  The third St. Joseph Church 1938-present
1939    Church is completed. The three Vanduzen bells from 1898 are installed in the tower of the new church where they ring to this day. The three-manual pipe organ built by George Kilgen & Sons of  St. Louis, Missouri is installed and the church is dedicated by the Most Reverend Joseph C. Plagens on August 6.

1940    December 21 the Most Reverend Francis Magner becomes seventh Bishop of Marquette.

1941    Father Antonine Brockhuis, O.F.M., assistant pastor, passes away and is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery.

1942    Father Leary leaves Escanaba and is replaced by Father Alphonse Wilberding, O.F.M.  He was assistant pastor from 1935-1936.

1943    Father Kenneth Rouleau, O.F.M., assistant pastor passes away and is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery.

1947    St. Joseph Cemetery and St. Anne Cemetery are merged and become Holy Cross Cemetery, which is owned and operated by the Diocese of Marquette.  August 25 the Most Reverend Thomas L. Noa becomes eighth Bishop of Marquette..

1948    Father Patrick McArron becomes pastor. He was assistant pastor from 1945-1947.  

1951    February 16 Father McArron passes away and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.  Father Stephen Schneider, O.F.M. who has been assistant pastor since 1948 is assigned as pastor.

1954    Holy Name High School is built which is operated by all of the local parishes.  St. Joseph High School closes.

1957    Father Dominic Calme, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1960    Father Colman Kircher, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1961    Father Jordan Telles, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1962    October 11, the Second Vatican Council is opened by Pope John XXIII in Rome.

1964    Tonal changes and additions are made to the Kilgen pipe organ.

1965    December 8 the Second Vatican Council ends in Rome.

1968    January 10 the Most Reverend Charles A. Salatka becomes ninth Bishop of Marquette.

1969    Father Fabian Gerstle, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1971    Holy Name High School closes and St. Joseph, St. Anne, St. Patrick and St. Thomas elementary schools consolidate into Holy Name Central Grade School.

1972    December 11 St. Joseph School building is torn down.

1975    Father Garbriel Buescher, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1978    March 21 the Most Reverend Mark F. Schmitt becomes the tenth Bishop of Marquette.

1985    Father Marian Douglas, O.F.M. a native of Bark River and a graduate of St. Joseph High School becomes pastor.

1990    Father Miles Pfalzer, O.F.M. becomes pastor.

1992    After 109 years of service to St. Joseph Parish the Franciscans give up the administration of parish. Father Walter Sheedlo becomes the first priest of the Diocese of Marquette to pastor parish since Father Joseph Niebling in 1883. Bishop Schmitt  retires and on October 6 the Most Reverend James H. Garland is appointed eleventh Bishop of Marquette.

1995    Diocesan planning process Fully Alive in ’95 calls for further pastoral planning in the city of Escanaba

1997    June 30 St. Joseph Parish is suppressed. July 1 Bishop Garland erects the new parish of St. Joseph & St. Patrick.
St. Joseph Church Vocations
St. Joseph Parish has given the Church many vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life:
Father Francis X. Barth; Father Theophile Meyer, O.F.M; Father Thomas Blomstrom, O.F.M; Father Arthur Tonne; Father (Later Monsignor) Henry Bucholtz; Father James Corcoran; Father Samuel Hermes, O.F.M.; Father Julian Rosseau, O.F.M.; Father Marian Douglas, O.F.M.; Father Eugene Rosseau, O.F.M.; and Father Raymond Soper, O.F.M.

Women in Religious Life: School Sisters of Notre Dame
Sr. M. Anaclete (Anna Roeser); Sr. M. Regine (Monica Collins); Sr. M. Basil (Clara Roeser); Sr. M. Amborse (Norma Larson); Sr. M Richard (Charlotte Allingham); Sr. M. Dyonne (May Finn); Sr. M. Julius (Hyacinth Larson); Sr. Rita Krusell; Sr. M. Hildemar (Marie LaBrie)

More photographs of St. Joseph Church are found in the Photo Gallery.

St. Patrick Parish

1901    The Irish members of St. Joseph Church begin to circulate a petition to form their own parish after disparaging remarks are made about them by the assistant pastor, Father Hubert Kalt, O.F.M., on St. Patrick’s Day.  The petition is presented to Bishop Frederick Eis on July 14 and a vote to separate from St. Joseph Church is taken.
  •  On July 26 Father John M. Langan is appointed first pastor of St. Patrick Church and the formal division is declared by Bishop Eis.
  •  On August 4 at 6:30 AM the first Mass of the new parish is celebrated in St. Joseph Church.
  •  On October 27 Father Langan celebrates the last Mass for the Irish at St. Joseph Church and for $30.00 per month 2 Masses are celebrated each Sunday at St. Anne Church.
1902    The cornerstone for the new St. Patrick church is laid on May 25.

1903    St. Patrick Church is dedicated by the Right Reverend Frederick Eis on February 15.  The Most Reverend John Ireland, Archbishop of St. Paul, Minnesota preaches the sermon.
St. Patrick Church 1903
The architects  Schick & Roth of LaCrosse, Wisconsin were chosen for the plans for the new church.  The contract for the contruction of the building was awarded on March 9, 1902 to John W. Lawson for the sum of $29,974.00.  Subsequent contracts were placed:  Coogan & Strothenke, of Milwaukee for the heating plant; The Manitowoc Seating Works for pews ($2,400.00); Dubuque Altar Manufacturing Company for the High Altar, Side Altars, two Confessionals, Baptismal Font, Pulpit and Altar Rail ($2,750.00); Flanagan Biedenweg Company for the stained glass windows ($2,400.00);  W.W. Kimball Co. of Chicago, Illinois for the pipe organ ($2,600.00); Meneely and Co. of Troy, New York for three bells ($850.00) click here for a vintage video of the Meneely Bell Foundry;  John W. Lawson for the Rectory; Chicago Fixture and Lighting Company for the chandeliers.  All totaled the new church and rectory cost $72,279.00.

1911    Father Langan dies on January 12 and Father Francis X. Barth becomes the second pastor.

1922    Father Barth dies on May 30.  Father Barth was greatly respected in the community.  He was instrumental in promoting a new charter for the governance of the city of Escanaba.  The Escanaba Daily Press wrote:  “No priest ever to serve any community held a higher place in the hearts of all the people in that community as did Reverend F. X. Barth in this city.”

Father Jeremiah Moriarity begins his pastorate, which is the shortest in the history of the parish, less than one year.

1923    Father John Mockler becomes pastor.

1933    Father Mockler dies on December 7 in Miami, Florida and Father Thomas A. Kennedy becomes pastor.

1945    Father Kennedy dies on February 16 and Father Martin B. Melican becomes pastor.  His pastorate is the longest in the history of the parish, 23 years.

1950    On September 26 ground is broken for the new parish school.

1951    St. Patrick’s School opens on September 5 with students enrolled in the first four grades.  The Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan serve the school.

1952    Father Melican is made a monsignor on July 16.

1966   The Kimball pipe organ is removed and replaced with a Wicks pipe organ.

1968    Msgr. Melican retires and is succeeded by Father Charles J. Carmody.

1970    Father Carmody accepts position on the faculty of Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.  Father Kenneth G. Bretl is appointed pastor.

1971    Permission is given to make necessary repairs to the church at a cost of $200,000.00.  Interior and exterior restoration, repair of stained glass windows, new heating system, new roof and rebuilding of front steps. St. Patrick School closes and merges with St. Anne, St. Joseph and St. Thomas Schools to become Holy Name Central Grade School.

1972    Spire of large tower repaired. The Meneely bells removed from belfry and sold into private ownership.

1973    Lightning strikes spire in July.  Spire is taken down and rebuilt.

1980    Father Arnold J. Grambow, who had been the associate pastor, becomes pastor.

1988    Father James A. Pepin becomes pastor.

   Father Pepin dies on July 22 less than one year into his pastorate.  Father John M. Maloney is appointed Administrator.  Father Ronald J. Skufca becomes pastor in September.

1995    Diocesan planning process Fully Alive in ’95 calls for further pastoral planning in the city of Escanaba

1997    June 30 St. Patrick Parish is suppressed.  July 1 Bishop Garland erects the new parish of St. Joseph & St. Patrick.

During its ninety-six years of existence St. Patrick Church had twenty-seven associate priests.  From 1944 to 1950 there were two associates.


St. Patrick Church Vocations
Six men of the parish were ordained to the priesthood:
Father J. S. Considine, O.P; Father John Hughes; Father Robert C. Hartnett, S.J.; Father Richard Ryan, S.J.; Father Peter C. Brien, M.M. and Fr. Paul J. Brien, M.M..  Brother Francis Carr, O.S.Cam.

Five women entered Religious Life from St. Patrick Church:
Sr. Mary Richard Allingham, SSND; Sr. Martha Jean Sayklly, SSND; Sr. Joellen Flynn, C.S.A.; and Sr. Mary Margaret Priniski, O.P.
More photographs of St. Patrick's Church are found on page two of the
Photo Gallery


St. Joseph & St. Patrick Parish

1997    With the declining numbers of priests, a decrease in church attendance, and following a diocesan wide pastoral study which was implemented in July of 1995, followed by study of the parishes in the city of Escanaba, on July 1 Bishop James Garland merges St. Joseph Parish and St. Patrick Parish.

Father Ronald J. Skufca, who had been the pastor of St. Patrick Church, is named Parochial Administrator of the new St. Joseph & St. Patrick Parish.  Dr. William Hemes is assigned as the deacon in the parish to assist Fr. Skufca.  Both church buildings remain open, but all councils, committees and finances are merged. The priest’s residence is moved to the St. Joseph location.

1999    Father Skufca is transferred and on July 1 Father Joseph Nagaroor assigned to parish as the first priest to hold the title of pastor of St. Joseph & St. Patrick Parish.  

2001    On June 10 the parish celebrates the centennial of the founding of St. Patrick Church.

2002    Father Francis G. Dobrzenski becomes pastor on July 1.  The announcement is made that St. Patrick Church will be closed and the final Mass is celebrated there on July 28.

2003    The St. Patrick complex is sold in March, a few days over 100 years since its dedication.

2004    A new roof is installed on St. Joseph Church and the gutter system is restored, alleviating the water problem that has damaged the stone for many years.

On July 1 Father Richard C. Schaefer is named pastor.  

2005    Father Schaefer takes a leave of absence for health reasons, which begins on November 1.  Father Lawrence T. Gauthier is named Parochial Administrator.

    Father Alexander K. Sample, Chancellor of the Diocese of Marquette, is named twelfth bishop of the Diocese of Marquette on December 13.

2006    Father Sample is ordained to the episcopate on January 25 in St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette.

    On June 30 Fr. Eric Olson is named pastor.

2008    February 6, the “Portative” organ is installed in the sanctuary.  The organ was built in 1971 by the Wicks Organ Company of Highland, Illinois.  It is first used on the First Sunday of Lent, February 10, for Sung Vespers and Benediction.

On July 16, the parish hosts the diocesan celebration of the 175th  Anniversary of the founding of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  The Mass is celebrated by Bishop Sample with Father Eric Olson as homilist.

The tower of the church is repaired during October by R. J. Jacques and Whitefield Roofing of Green Bay, Wisconsin at a cost of $265,000.

2011   In August, theVerdin Co. is engaged to refurbish the bell-ringing mechanism install a new digital timer control.

           On November 30 the Diocese approves the installation of an elevator in the Seventh Street entrance.

           On December 1, the paintings of the Nativity and the Resurrection, saved from the High Altar of St. Patrick's Church, cleaned and newly framed, are installed in the church above the confessionals.




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