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,
St. Bridget Church of River Falls traces its roots back to 1854. Six years earlier, Joel Foster, founder of the town, arrived. The first Catholic settlers acquired government land just south of the present city of River Falls. They attended Masses at Prescott or Hudson and later at Big River, where a Bohemian settlement had built a church in 1862. The first Catholic church was built about seven miles east of River Falls in 1870. Masses were held on an irregular basis, whenever a missionary priest or one from Hudson could come. Soon Catholics saw a need for a larger church. A two-year fund drive brought in $2,000 and construction of the 36-by-70-foot white frame church began on the site of the present church property. The first resident pastor arrived in 1887. He lived in a rented hours on Fourth Street until a new rectory was built just east of the church. By 1889, the growing parish saw the need for a larger church building. The 40 parish families approved plans for the 42-by-90-foot structure. It was demolished in June 1984 to make way for the present church. The new $1.8 million church was dedicated by Bishop Raphael M. Fliss on September 23, 1984. It seats about 700 people, with overflow space accommodating an additional 300 worshippers. After paying off the building debt of $750,000, a parish mortgage burning celebration was held October 25, 1998. A parish school was built in 1951 and opened that fall with four Sisters of St. Joseph of Superior as teachers and 79 students. Enrollment in the eight grades peaked in the 1960s with over 300 students. A kindergarten class was added in 1975 and preschool in 1992.
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.