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,
The dream of a Catholic church in Park Falls came true in 1904 with the laying of the cornerstone on the first St. Anthony Church on North Second Avenue. Plans were made to erect a 40-by-80-foot brick veneer building with a 90-foot bell tower. The church was completed in 1904 and dedicated in the summer of 1905. Fr. Bernard Klein, who resided in Fifield, served as the first pastor until Fr. N. Kieffer became the first resident pastor in 1906. In 1921 the parish built a new school, church and rectory. The cornerstone was laid on September 4, 1921. The first Mass was celebrated in the new church on Sunday, August 27, 1922, and on October 3, 1922, Bishop Joseph G. Pinten presided over dedication ceremonies. St. Anthony School opened in the fall of 1922, with the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis staffing the school. In October of 1923, Bishop Pinten placed the parish under the direction of the Society of the Precious Blood Fathers. Groundbreaking for the current St. Anthony of Padua Church took place July 1, 1975, the feast of the Most Precious Blood. Cost of the new building was $467,000. A parish center, with preschool and daycare rooms, parish offices and meeting rooms was added in 1994. On October 26, 1998, during the 75th anniversary of the Precious Blood religious order’s arrival in Park Falls, it was announced the religious community would leave the parish. In June of 1999, Fr. James Jackson, a diocesan priest became pastor. At present, St. Anthony of Padua is part of the Northwoods Cluster of Immaculate Conception in Butternut and St. Francis of Assisi in Fifield.
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.