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 first Catholic services in the Fifield area were held in 1876. They were held in various logging camps and homes. The first church was dedicated in October 1888 under the pastorate of Fr. Chrysostom Verwyst. The church was built at the cost of $5,000, and the rectory, built in 1890, at the cost of $1,500. All parish debts were paid in full during Fr. Bernard Klein's pastorate, from 1893 to 1908. The parish consisted of about 70 families and included the population of Park Falls, which had no Catholic church until 1904. Fr. Klein also served Butternut and Glidden, and after the Phillips fire of 1894, served Phillips, Kennan and Prentice. On April 5, 1931, the original church burned to the ground. The Park Falls fire department saved the rectory and surrounding buildings from destruction. A new church was dedicated on Nov. 1, 1931. Until that time, services were held in the Old Town Hall. In 1924, the first priest of the Society of the Precious Blood religious order arrived to serve as pastor. The Precious Blood priests continued to serve the area until 1999, when Fr. Jim Jackson, a diocesan priest, became pastor of the cluster. Priests of the Holy Cross Benedictine Abbey, located southeast of Fifield, have also served St. Francis Parish. Fr. Otto Weber, a Precious Blood priest who served the parish for 30 years until 1971, was the last resident pastor. Since then, St. Francis has been a mission parish of St. Anthony of Park Falls and is presently a member of the Park Falls, Butternut and Fifield cluster.
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.