OSHKOSH — The former home of St. Josaphat Parish in Oshkosh has a new owner. The sale recently was closed with American Legion Cook-Fuller Post 70 from Oshkosh.
Deacon Rick Hocking of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, who oversaw the sale of the campus, said the group is a good fit for the former parish site.
“I see them as an extension of the church’s mission,” Deacon Hocking said. “They are a resource for and support to our veterans who’ve so faithfully served our country — some of them struggling with the after-effects of war. I think they have some great plans on how to use that site as more than just a meeting area.”
Deacon Hocking said meetings are projected to be held in the former school building and kitchen, and plans are underway to utilize or lease the church building proper and the former rectory.
The site has had limited parish use for about the last decade, when the three independent parishes of St. Peter, St. Mary and St. Josaphat were consolidated into Most Blessed Sacrament Parish.
“In that consolidation, the parish prescribed two worship sites — the former St. Peter and the former St. Mary,” Deacon Hocking said. “It meant that the St. Josaphat site was no longer used for regular Sunday Masses.”
Special events such as weddings, funerals and the parish picnic were held on the site, but as the years went by these events diminished. “In the last couple of years, the site was not used at all for parish purposes,” Deacon Hocking said. It was used for a few years for educational purposes by CESA (Cooperative Educational Service Agency) 6, but CESA 6 now has a new home, Deacon Hocking said.
“From a practical standpoint, we had a perfectly wonderful building that could be used for good purpose, and it was sitting vacant,” he said.
The parish wanted to find an appropriate nonprofit buyer for the campus, and feels they have found it in American Legion Cook-Fuller Post 70. “The neighbors were concerned that we would see it go to a worthy institution, and it’s comforting to them that the Legion has it,” he said. “Former parishioners are saying, ‘I’m glad it’s going to good use.’
“Some are sad because that worship site has been a part of their family history for a long time, but the key thing is that a building in really good condition was just sitting basically vacant and underutilized,” he added. “Now there is the chance to put it to good use, and the community will benefit from that. The Legion sees it as a win, as well.”
Deacon Hocking said that when a religious site is reduced to secular use, all sacred objects must be removed — such as the altar, tabernacle, crucifixes and crosses. Those have been removed, reassigned to another parish or put to reuse within the parish, he said.
Proceeds from the sale will be put into the general operating fund of Most Blessed Sacrament Parish to help offset increasing operational expenses.