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,
In the early 1850s, traveling priests came to celebrate Mass in the log cabin home of Thomas Parnell. Land was donated on the bank above the Apple and St. Croix rivers and a log cabin church was built in 1856. The new church was called St. Joseph. The French-Canadian settlers called this settlement "La Pointe de Pomme de Terre." In 1864, Fr. Nicholas Stehle of Hudson changed the church's name to St. Vincent de Paul. In 1873 Fr. Henry Wirtz came to Somerset as its first resident pastor. He saw a need for a larger and more centrally located church, and despite disapproval by some old settlers, the decision was made to build a brick church on the east side of the Apple River overlooking the village. It was completed in 1875. A parish school costing $2,600 was opened in the fall of 1890. By 1896, St. Vincent de Paul Parish had 185 families and 78 students in its school. In 1898 Bishop James Schwebach of La Crosse placed the parish under the patronage of St. Anne, a favorite of French-Canadians. A new, three-story school and convent building was opened in 1908, with the Sisters of St. Joseph from Crookston, Minn., staffing it. A new church was constructed in 1916, and a new convent in 1920. In 1956, Fr. John Rivard purchased land across the highway to buid a new school, which opened on August 20, 1957, with 263 students. In June 1998 the parish held a farewell celebration for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Crookston. On August 10, 2003, Bishop Raphael M. Fliss dedicated a building addition that connects the church to the rectory and serves as a gathering space. An addition to St. Anne School was also completed in 2003.
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.