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.
Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
Holy Family, St. Mary, and St. Agnes ---> Our Lady of the Lake
On June 21, 1873, Dr. Edwin Ellis donated three lots for the construction of the first Catholic church in Ashland. A frame building, completed in 1877 on the site at Third Avenue East, marked the site of the first St. Agnes Church. The mission parishes of Bayfield, La Pointe, Odanah and Ashland were transferred to the charge of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart Province of St. Louis, MO, in 1878.
The present church construction started in 1886. The first services were held in November 1887 in the basement. Construction continued over a 10 year period. The next project was St. Agnes School. Built in 1881, the first grade school also served as the sisters’ convent. A new school was built in 1895. An agreement for administration of the school was made in 1884 with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of La Crosse. The DePadua High School was built in 1927, with classes beginning a year later.
A delegation of Polish immigrants met with Bishop James Schwebach of La Crosse in 1899 asking permission to build a separate Polish church. St. Agnes then divided its congregation, forming the new Holy Family Church. A school affiliated with the new church followed. However, the Holy Family joined together with St. Mary School of Odanah in 1971 and later with St. Agnes School.
In 1990, Franciscan Fr. Vernon Olmer, pastor, orchestrated the union of Holy Family and St. Agnes parishes. The new, consolidated church was named Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Community. Renovations were made to the social hall and church in 1995.
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.