The history of the Diocese of Superior dates back to the 17th century. Our Journey Through Faith offers a glimpse into the historic events that played a role in the growth of Catholicism in Northern Wisconsin. Diocese of Superior - Statistics
Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
In 1888, the first pastor was appointed to Rhinelander and construction on a church began. The Immaculate Conception Church had an exceptionally large sacristy because it doubled as the priest's residence. On July 19, 1900, disaster struck the church when it caught fire and burned to the ground. Even before the fire, plans had been made for building a school. It was completed in 1900 and staffed by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. Later that year a new, larger church was built and served the community for 61 years when fire again struck. The present church was dedicated on May 11, 1964. In 1909, 60 families of Polish descent received permission from Bishop Augustine F. Schinner to form a second parish in Rhinelander. They purchased a former Methodist church and began holding services in Polish. In 1955, Bishop Joseph Annabring decreed a territorial division so that St. Joseph and St. Mary parishes would be parishes of equal size and population. Membership would be based no longer on one's nationality, but rather on where one resided. The territorial division added a heavy burden to St. Joseph and plans were made to build a new church and school. By 1957, a new church and school were fully operational with over 200 students divided among the eight grades. In 1969, the school merged with St. Mary School to form Rhinelander Catholic Central. By 1998, the parish needed additional space so nearly $1 million was raised to expand the building and renovate existing space. Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph churches merged in January 2005, choosing Nativity of Our Lord as its new name.
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.