Community celebrates 150th anniversary of Stangelville parish

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | August 27, 2014

ALLOUEZ — Aug. 17 saw an anniversary for a church known for its 19th-century style. Bishop David Ricken celebrated the 150th anniversary Mass to mark the founding of St. Lawrence in Stangelville in Kewaunee County.

Bishop David Ricken greets parishioners after Mass at St. Lawrence Church in Stangelville Aug. 17. The Kewaunee County church is now a worship site for St. Thérèse de Lisieux Parish. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)
Bishop David Ricken greets parishioners after Mass at St. Lawrence Church in Stangelville Aug. 17. The Kewaunee County church is now a worship site for St. Thérèse de Lisieux Parish. (Scott Eastman | For The Compass)

Now a worship site for St. Thérèse de Lisieux Parish in rural Denmark, St. Lawrence was founded in 1864, with Fr. Augustine Lang serving as its first pastor. Immigrants from the province of Bohemia, in the current Czech Republic, founded the community.

The Aug. 17 anniversary events included a parade, pig roast and polka music. Fr. Dennis Drury, pastor of St. Thérèse, said that the anniversary event was stellar for “the quality of the liturgy” and cited both the choir and Bishop Ricken’s homily as highlights.

“And the quality of the booyah,” the pastor added.

Local tradition is that the first St. Lawrence Church was built on the site where six Bohemian workers were spared from injury when a tree, being cut down by road workers, fell on them.

The present church is the second, completed in 1894 for a cost of $15,000. The Victorian Gothic-style building has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1989 and is currently popular for tours. Some of the highlights include:

  • A steeple that soars to 150 feet;
  • Three altars carved from local oak and butternut woods by the late Kewaunee craftsman, Joseph Svoboda. The main altar stands 32 feet tall;
  • A side chapel altar that was hand-carved by one of the early pastors, Fr. Adalbert Cipin, in 1875;
  • Ten ceiling murals including images of the Eucharist and scenes from Christ’s resurrection;
  • Fourteen stained glass windows, each more than 15 feet tall, depicting various saints including St. Ann and St. Joseph;
  • A large statue of St. Lawrence of Rome, deacon and martyr, over the main altar; and
  • A 1910 Kimball pipe organ, from a church in Sturgeon Bay, that was installed at St. Lawrence in 1988.

Fr. Drury has been pastor since 2006. He said that, “Although the entire church is very ornate, my favorite decorative feature is the stained glass windows. The play of light and color through stained glass is my favorite visual artistic effect.”

He also noted how the communities that make up St. Thérèse Parish — St. Lawrence, St. Joseph in Pilsen and St. Hedwig in East Krok — share their talents.

“For example,” Fr. Drury said, “we have six different choirs: mixed choirs at Pilsen, Stangelville, Tisch Mills; a men’s choir at Tisch Mills; a guitar choir; and a youth choir. Many of the members of the various choirs are glad to sing with whatever choir is singing that day, which greatly improves the music at all our liturgies.” (Fr. Drury is also pastor of St. Isidore the Farmer, Tisch Mills.)

“So while a great number of the people have great love for this or that individual church,” the priest added, “they are also ready to share their talents at the other churches and also outside the parish area, such as working at St. John’s Homeless Shelter and Paul’s Pantry in Green Bay.

Weekend Masses take place at St. Lawrence on Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. Weekday Mass is celebrated at the site on Wednesdays at 8 a.m.

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