Shawano County parish marks 100 years
Holy family, Mattoon, built on timber land
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
Holy Family Parish, Mattoon, will celebrate 100 years as a faith community on Sunday, June 10. Bp. Robert Banks will preside at a 10:30 centennial Mass.
Holy Family Church was dedicated Oct. 22, 1901. Fr. George Pesch offered the first Mass. Catholics living in Mattoon, located in Northern Shawano County, were previously members of St. Joseph Parish, Phlox, or St. Boniface Parish, Aniwa, before Holy Family Church was constructed.
The Wisconsin Timber and Land Co. donated the site under the condition that a church be erected within one year of June 1, 1900. A building contract was awarded to Conrad Boehler, a parishioner.
Holy Family was served from Phlox from its inception until April 2, 1902, when Fr. Pesch moved to Aniwa. Fr. Michael Rumpel, who succeeded Fr. Pesch on April 16, 1903, also served the parish from Aniwa. Masses in Mattoon were usually held on the second and fourth Sundays of the month and on some weekdays.
In 1916, Fr. Rumpel decided to build a rectory at Mattoon, which he was a generous contributor. The building cost approximately $1,500. John Aarstad, father of Marie Miller, a present member of Holy Family, used his horses and ground scoop to dig the rectory basement.
In the fall of 1916, Fr. Rumpel moved into the rectory and served Aniwa as a mission until his assignment to Kiel on May 16, 1917. In the period of time that followed, the parish was served from St. Joseph, Phlox.
Fr. Rumpel was the only priest who ever lived in the parish rectory. Over the years, various parishioners have resided there in exchange for some service to the parish.
On Nov. 3, 1943, a group of women of Holy Family gathered to organize a Christian Mother's Society. Some of the charter members include current Holy Family parishioners Agnes Eibenholzl, Helen Kielman, Marie Miller, Marie Pecha and Edna Zwirschitz.
Pecha, 91, also has the distinction of being the parish's oldest member.
Holy Family is now a part of a parish cluster which includes St. Joseph Parish, Phlox, and St. Anthony Parish, Neopit. Fr. David Kiefer, pastor since 1992, and Dcn. Tom Hartman serve the parish, which today, has 101 family units.
"The parish has a wonderful history," said Dcn. Hartman. "After 100 years, it remains an active and vibrant faith community. We have been adding new, younger members. It is a privilege to serve at Holy Family."