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 1853, Fr. Frederic Baraga was named bishop of the northern vicariate of Sault St. Marie, (which later became the Diocese of Marquette, Mich.). He sent his only priest, Fr. Augustus VanPaemel, to Superior. Fr. VanPaemel celebrated the first Mass in the East End of Superior in the summer of 1854. The liturgy marks the beginning of the history of St. Francis Xavier Parish, which officially received its name in 1879.
In the early 1890’s, the bishop encouraged the building of a permanent church. The Franciscans, who had accepted responsibility of the parish, undertook the task. By 1892, a foundation was laid. By 1904, the parish was able to lay a cornerstone, and in 1908, the church was dedicated. The Franciscans served the parish until 1977, when diocesan clergy were assigned to oversee the parish. The parish currently has more than 800 registered families and 2,100 baptized members. Fr. James Tobolski, pastor, states, “Not only is our church one of glorious beauty and historical significance, but also the spirit and joy of the parishioners are most noteworthy.”
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.