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. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Saints 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.

Diversity is a major theme at All Saints. Rising from merger of several ethnic north side Milwaukee parishes, All Saints is a wonderful “melting pot” of faith traditions and ethnic roots. This melting pot boils over and runs throughout the liturgy, artistic expressions, and community service of the parish. 

Resting near the center of the worship space, the altar brings together the congregation from all sides of the church.

Special VIP Offerings:
- Exclusive presentation by All Saints’ internationally-known gospel choir at 11:30 a.m.
- Multi-cultural displays featuring the parish's African-American, European, Caribbean, and African heritages.
- Learn about the Knights of Peter Claver and the Ladies Auxiliary, the parish’s food pantry, and other initiatives.
- Tours include the immersion baptismal font, prayer alcove, balcony, chapel, and more!

The baptismal font makes a remarkable impression upon entering the main church.

Location: 4051 N. 25th Street, Milwaukee, WI – All Saints calls Milwaukee’s north side home, just off Capitol Avenue. The church building that houses All Saints is the former St. Agnes Catholic Church, indicative of the former ethnic German population of this part of the city. Today, the African-American community anchors the area and provides enthusiastic leadership for much of the All Saints Parish community. Rufus King High School and an old industrial railroad corridor are among the larger landmarks in the area.

The former namesake of the All Saints Catholic Church building, St. Agnes, still holds watch from the balcony years after the closure of her original parish.

Fun All Saints’ Facts:
- The parish’s namesake, All Saints, helps tell the genesis of this community. Over the last couple decades, many of Milwaukee’s north side parishes have combined to help form All Saints, which Bobby Tanzilo’s article on All Saints describes in detail [1].
- The first Catholic Church near All Saints was built for the old St. Agnes Parish near 25th Street and Capitol Avenue in 1926 [2].
- Weekend Mass and All Saints Gospel Choir performances are recorded and available for sale and streaming [3]

Statue of the Holy Family from a prayer alcove.

Why is this Parish a VIP?
1. Social Activities: You likely have heard of the Knights of Columbus, but did you know that there is an active fraternal organization for African-American Catholics which is active in the heart of Milwaukee? The Knights of Peter Claver were founded in 1909 in Mobile, Alabama to originally offer a fraternal home for men of color. Membership has expanded to allow women and youth into this organization which is active in several social initiatives, including through its membership at All Saints. The Parish also hosts a hot meal program each Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for the surrounding community, complemented further by a food pantry that is open on Fridays. 

2. Gospel Choir: I don’t fancy myself a music critic, but I think anyone can recognize the talent and enthusiasm of the All Saints Gospel Choir! The choir will give a special presentation at 11:30 a.m. during the VIP event on November 5th, and will have CDs available for a good will offering. Give them a listen!

This nave fills weekly with the enthusiasm of both the amazing All Saints Gospel Choir and the parish family at All Saints.

3. Religious Devotions: Admittedly, I am underscoring the diversity of this parish which includes folks of many nationalities and economic backgrounds in part to keep this article concise and to encourage to you go and learn more at VIP! However, similar to many of Milwaukee’s old Polish and German neighborhood churches, All Saints does a terrific job of recognizing saints of African heritage. Our Lady of Africa is represented through a beautiful statue in a prayer alcove just to the side of the sanctuary.

 Detail, Our Lady of Africa Statue.

In a separate prayer alcove, near the Our Lady of Africa statue, statuary and information on more saints are available for education and prayerful reflection. Two saints featured in the alcove, Saints Charles Lwanga and Martin de Porres, each reflect the great sacrifices that come with serving God and the communities that they served with Catholic faith and practice. The All Saints VIP tour on Saturday will feature more detail on these statues and the artwork throughout the church.

Left: St. Charles Lwanga
Right: St. Martin de Porres

4. The Church Building: Like fellow VIP parish, St. Bernard’s in Wauwatosa, the church at All Saints is a modern building, erected in the 1960s. Its nave and worship space is well-designed for a more charismatic form of Catholic worship than what Catholics may often see. A few highlights that will be featured in the VIP tour include the immersion pool used for baptisms, the additional chapel used for worship, and the balcony.

Our Lady of Grace, featured on the south wall of the church.

All Saints Catholic Church

Weekend Mass Times
Sundays: 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

Special thanks for Cecilia Smith-Robertson, Roosevelt, All Saints Parish, and Amy Grau for setting up my visit to All Saints and for bringing this article to life!

Additional Sources:
The All Saints Parish website and my conversations with folks at the parish were great sources of information throughout the article-writing process.
[2] Gurda, John. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, 258.