Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sunday!! - Re-dedication Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Boyd

Don't worry, the pews will be back in order before the Bishop arrives!

My baptismal church, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Boyd, Wisconsin is reopening its doors for a Mass of Dedication of a Church Already in Use (yes, that's what they officially call it) on Sunday, March 19th at 11 a.m.

The church has been closed since last fall for an extensive renovation project. Since I can't make the drive for the Mass, I requested and gratefully received a tour of the church earlier in March.

St. Rose of Lima

In 2012, St. Joseph, St. Rose of Lima Church in Cadott, and Holy Family Church in Stanley merged to form All Saints Parish. The Boyd church site is the most historic and largest of the three. To represent unity among all three church sites, new medallions were painted representing the patrons of the Cadott and Stanley churches. All three church sites will continue to have weekend Mass.

Many of the historic elements of the church are being preserved, like the high altar.

Guardian Angel window

Surprisingly for a church nearing 90 years old, there were few structural concerns that needed attention. However, not all of the decorative improvements could be made in this project. The stained glass windows will need to be cleaned and reinforced in the future. Even without a window cleaning, I couldn't help but notice how the new color palate of the church walls brought out the color of the windows, even on the cloudy day that I visited.

Angels float on the precipice above the Sanctuary.

Presentation of the Christ Child

Repainted organ pipes

Such a refreshingly new, but historic-feeling look!

According to Father Felix, the decorative renovation is meant to roughly follow the original design of the church dating from the 1920s. I am planning on visiting the church again after it opens to the public to share more details on the changes in this magnificent building.

Got to have a little fun, right?

In December 2013, just as I was starting the blog, I took photos at St. Joseph's, which you can see here: 

St. Joseph Church, All Saints Catholic Parish
719 E. Patten St.  Boyd, WI 54726

Thanks again to Father Felix for taking time out of his schedule to give a tour of the church while still in construction mode and for offering a few of my text notes!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Christmas and a Blogging Update

Nativity creche at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota

Per the usual I'm afraid, it's been awhile since my last wave of blog posts. Another Christmas season has come and gone, and additional ideas for my church photography hobby are starting to manifest themselves. To celebrate a wonderful holiday season, scroll on and see a few of the churches that I visited over December 2016. Some of these places will be featured in full blog posts later. As always, stay tuned!

It seemed that all of my camera equipment either broke or slowed down in 2016 (taking church photos without a tripod is not as easy as you think!). To alleviate this problem, I finally purchased a DSLR camera (a refurbished Canon EOS Rebel T6, if you are curious) in December. The morning after ordering the camera however, I found myself in Mundelein, Illinois to buy some lamps and lucked into a beautiful "first snow" shoot at Mundelein Seminary. Thankfully, my old Nikon was up to the task for the day!

Left: Exterior of St. Peter Catholic Church, Ashton, Wisconsin
Right: Detail, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at St. Peter Catholic Church, Ashton, Wisconsin

The Canon Rebel arrived at my apartment in time for a holy hour at one of rural Madison's gorgeous churches. As you can tell above, a new camera promises no magic. I have a lot to learn as I move beyond my point-and-shoot cameras of years' past!

Sanctuary: St. Louis Catholic Church, St. Paul, Minnesota

On the third day of Christmas, I took my mother and sister for a day of exploration and yes, shopping, in St. Paul, Minnesota. While the Twin Cities may not be known for their Catholic heritage like other Midwestern cities are (Chicago or St. Louis, for example), there are plenty of magnificent churches to see!

St. Thomas More Catholic Church (formerly St. Luke), St. Paul, Minnesota

Nativity Creche: St. Thomas More Catholic Church (formerly St. Luke), St. Paul, Minnesota

Outdoor Nativity Scene: Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Agnes Catholic Church, St. Paul, Minnesota

Ss. Cyril & Methodius, Lemont, Illinois

Even a concert was cause for more church spelunking. After spending a night rocking out to the Polkaholics (try not to laugh when you see that!) and The Dyes in Chicago, a friend of mine led me to Ss. Cyril & Methodius for my first so-called "Suburban Polish Parish" visit! Read back in the blog archives for stories of my urban and rural Polish parish visits if you feel so inclined.

St. Joan of Arc Chapel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Finally, to cap off a December of church chasing, I picked up another pal to introduce her to Milwaukee's churches large and small...

Detail, Nativity Stained Glass Window: St. Michael Catholic Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sanctuary: Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Nativity Creche Detail: Old St. Mary's Catholic Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Happy New Year and I look forward to sharing more photos with you soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Our Lady Guadalupe Catholic Church, Milwaukee - VIP Milwaukee Preview

Note: This is one in a series of five posts previewing the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Very Important Parishes (VIP) event on Saturday, November 5th. To view the other preview posts and learn more about VIP, check out the first post in the series.

One of Milwaukee's oldest churches, but perhaps not as well known as some of its brethren Downtown, Our Lady of Guadalupe is worth a visit during VIP.

Mid 19th Century architecture, an old German parish, Milwaukee's Mother Hispanic parish, Our Lady of Guadalupe (formerly Holy Trinity) parish has plenty of designations. Over 150 years after its founding, it is still as important for its community as it was at the start. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church looks strikingly similar to Milwaukee’s Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church. This should come as little surprise, as they were designed by the same architect [1].

You too can toll the bell ropes at Our Lady of Guadalupe if you make a visit during the VIP event!

Special VIP Offerings:
- Beer! Beer! Beer! Not many church tours come with free alcohol! Use the coupon attached to the VIP Event Guide to get a free tour at nearby Brenner Brewing at 3 p.m., exclusive to VIP attendees.
- Milwaukee’s first Spanish-language Mass was held in adjacent Holy Trinity School. Hear about the genesis of this important ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
- Ring the bells! Guided and self-guided tours are open throughout the day, and ringing the church bells is allowed.
- Special dance and children’s choir performances throughout the day.
- Mass at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, November 5th

The Holy Trinity School building was witness to the first Spanish Mass in Milwaukee and is open for tours during the VIP event.

Location: 605 S. 4th Street, Milwaukee, WI – Tucked away off the local main corridors, Our Lady of Guadalupe is effectively an anchor tenant of an anchor neighborhood in Walker’s Point. Walker’s Point is one of Milwaukee’s original three settlements dating from the mid-19th Century. With the church building present on this site since 1849, it has seen waves of ethnic cultures come through its doors and shape the neighborhood [2]. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe sits in the middle of a neighborhood that is revitalizing itself through a mix of business and housing developments. 

Why is this Parish a VIP?

1. One of the Oldest Churches in Milwaukee: While Bobby Tanzillo’s article at does a great job of sharing the early story of the Our Lady of Guadalupe church building, it is best to check it out in person at a Mass or this Saturday at VIP!

The variety of saints depicted on the altars here is astounding.

2. Bilingual Teachings of the Faith: Our Lady of Guadalupe offers religious education in both English and Spanish for its students. This year, the parish Confirmation classes are packed full of soon-to-be confirmed disciples of the Catholic faith. 

3. One Parish, Two Histories: When Our Lady of Guadalupe and Holy Trinity merged in the 1960s, a precedent for many south side Milwaukee parishes was established. This neat essay comes from Our Lady of Guadalupe’s website:

The Unification of Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parishes
It's the summer of 1966. Not quite three years after the assassination of President Kennedy. Two hours south of Milwaukee, in Cicero, Illinois, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. is very active in community organizing. The British rock-n-roll band The Beatles is an international sensation. And the Packers stars are named Hornung, Nitschke, and Starr.

St. Therese of Lisieux

Six months have passed since the final gathering of Catholic bishops in Rome to conclude the Second Vatican Council. Until the 1960s, the priest has had his back to the congregation, and celebrates Mass in Latin - a language heard and spoken only in Church.

This artwork of St. Augustine was due to be repaired from water damage that impacted the church a decade ago.

Meanwhile, on the Near South Side of Milwaukee, a big change of its own is about to happen . . .
One parish needs more room. It's the only Spanish-speaking church on the South side, located on the southeast corner of 3rd and Washington. The other parish needs more members. It's located six blocks way at 4th and Bruce. Many of its German-and Slovenian-Americans members are passing away, and their children and grandchildren are moving to places like Cudahy and West Allis. Both churches are staffed members of the Franciscan Order-the friars of St. Francis.

Nuestra SeƱora de San Juan de los Lagos
Our Lady of St. John of the Lakes

The parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe have been told about the move a few weeks in advance by Fr. Bede Phelps, OFM Conv. At Holy Trinity, many people know what is going to happen-certainly the altar servers, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and the daily Mass goers - but also the parents of children at Holy Trinity School, where, since 1960s, the students enrollment has been at least one-third Hispanic.

But still, it is a surprise to some, when on Sunday, August 28, 1966, nearly 200 people arrive in procession to the front steps of Holy Trinity. They are from Our Lady of Guadalupe, and they carry banners with the likeness of La Morenita, Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, as she appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531 on the outskirts of Mexico City.

XI, Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

Some Holy Trinity members of Hispanic origin are on the steps waiting to greet the newcomers, encouraged to do so by the longest-standing service group at HT - the Christian Mothers. Everyone enters together for a Mass that starts shortly before 2 p.m.

The merger transformed the complexion of the parish. Indeed, as one former Milwaukee, "My marriages and baptisms are now of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans; my funerals are of Germans and Poles."

From 1966 until 2000, the parishes will be known as Trinity-Guadalupe, then simply as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church

Weekend Mass Times
Sundays: 10 a.m.
Spanish Sunday Mass: 12 p.m.

Special thanks for Father Tim Manatt, S.J., Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, and Amy Grau for arranging my visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Go see some Very Important Parishes in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, or wherever you are!

Additional Sources:
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish website and my was a great source of information throughout the article-writing process.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Milwaukee - VIP Milwaukee Preview

Note: This is one in a series of five posts previewing the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Very Important Parishes (VIP) event on Saturday, November 5th. To view the other preview posts and learn more about VIP, check out the first post in the series.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish is an institution in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. The church building, while over a century old, has adapted over time with numerous renovations and looks fantastic today. Being a well-established parish, Immaculate Conception has generated its own history and traditions that cement its meaning locally and for the Archdiocese as a Very Important Parish.

Immaculate Conception has one of the more eclectic church interiors around stylistically.

Special VIP Offerings:
- Learn how to play dartball! This fun game has been an Immaculate Conception tradition for years, and local experts will be available to talk about it.
- Choir and organ performances throughout the day, including special choir performances at 12:15 and 1 p.m.
- Guided and self-guided tours highlighting the high altar, sacristy, stained glass windows, and many more features!
- Mass at 5 p.m., Saturday, November 5th, with Confessions at 4 p.m.

Location: 1023 E. Russell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI – Immaculate Conception sits near the center of the Bay View neighborhood, and fronts its most famous street, Kinnickinnic Avenue. Bay View is one of Milwaukee’s most vibrant neighborhoods, with an eclectic mix of homes, restaurants, and shopping opportunities. Being one of Milwaukee’s largest neighborhoods by geographic area, Immaculate Conception is one of two Catholic churches in the neighborhood, along with St. Augustine.

The church is a sizable landmark along Kinnickinnic Avenue’s business district.

Fun Facts from Immaculate Conception:
- You may have heard of Flip this House, but at this parish they have flipped the church, quite literally! One of Immaculate Conception’s largest renovations was flipping the altar of worship from the south end to the north end of the church in the late 1950s. The tours at VIP and Bobby Tanzilo’s article at cover this in more detail.
- For a long time, the parish hosted its own Catholic school on parish grounds. Today, Atlas Preparatory Academy keeps the school buildings a hub for learning in the City of Milwaukee.
- The parish’s namesake, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception, is considered a patron saint of the United States [1].
- Roughly 700 families make Immaculate Conception their place of worship.

Even the Infant of Prague needs to check His mail once in awhile!

Why is this Parish a VIP?
1. Parish Activities: The parish is an active member of a six-parish collaborative group on the southeast side of Milwaukee. This group organizes religious education courses for kids and adults alike. A variety of ministry groups add to the energy of parish life, including Human Concerns, Prayer and Worship, and St. Vincent de Paul. Immaculate Conception also supports St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, a south side Milwaukee Catholic school for grades K4 – 8.

Father David Ryan

2. Priests Have To Go War Too: Hear the story and see some of the artifacts of one Immaculate Conception’s parish priest, Father David Ryan, who served in World War II as a Chaplain in the 82nd Air Borne Division. Some of his artifacts from his service in the Army will be on display at VIP.

Some of Father Ryan's vestments, including his reversible garment in the bottom photo. Check them out at VIP!

Corinthian capitals run along the sides of the nave.

Detail, Mosaic of the Jesse Tree, revealing much of the genealogy of Jesus.

3. A Church Building Goes Eclectic: The minds who have gone through Immaculate Conception over the years seem to have enjoyed mixing artistic styles. While the church was built in the mid-1900s and altered numerous times since, it is easy to see artistic motifs from throughout the 20th Century. Some things, like the Corinthian capitals and columns inside and out, evoke the Roman era. The 1950s mosaic depicting the Jesse Tree in the Sanctuary, blends the traditionalist concept of having a high altar in a church to a more contemporary context. Some stylistic moves came about as recently as the 1980s, with the communion rails shifting to the side altars and pulpit. Just a few years ago, the tabernacle was moved to the center of the sanctuary behind the altar in a nod towards more traditional liturgical design.

Part of the original communion rails were adapted for use in front of the side altars, including this one with St. Joseph.

"In memory of Father Fagan, Father Pierce, and Father Ryan. Pray for them."

Left: The Annunciation
Right: The Nativity

4. Ohh, but Look at those Windows!: I’m hoping for all of you that the day of VIP is sunny so you can check out the Marian-focused stained glass windows in all of their glory! Most of the windows were added to the church during the 1950s and represent an elegant Modern finish. One exception to this is the richly detailed window of Christ the King, which is believed to date from the church’s 1907 construction. Even if it’s cloudy outside, be sure to give them a look. You can always go back on a sunny day to enjoy the windows some more!

For more photos of Immaculate Conception, check out an earlier Roamin’ Catholic Churches article from December 2014:

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Weekend Mass Times
Saturdays: 5 p.m.
Sundays: 9:30 a.m.

Special thanks for Heidi Minikel, Reverend Philip J. Schumaker, Immaculate Conception Parish, and Amy Grau for arranging and facilitating my visit to Immaculate Conception and offering a great deal of subjects to write about!

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Additional Sources:
The Immaculate Conception Parish website, print materials, and my conversations with folks at the parish were great sources of information throughout the article-writing process.