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,
As early as the 1880’s the Franciscans friars from Superior, Bayfield and Reserve traveled the region to serve the Native Americans scattered here. Fr. John Zindler and Fr. P. J. Cunningham were the first diocesan priests to celebrate Mass in Webster.
On Feb. 24, 1915, a corporation was formed in Webster. The church was built a block west of the present church. Fr. H. Gordon Shaney was the first priest to take up residence in Webster. In 1927, the newly ordained Fr. Joseph Annabring took charge of the Webster parish and its missions, with Fr. Bernard Fries assisting him. Fr. Annabring’s pastorate was notable for the first summer catechism taught by religious sisters in 1927. Fr. Fries became pastor in 1929. That same year an eight-room rectory was built in Webster. The large size was necessary to allow the pastor of the missions of Frederic, Grantsburg and Clam Falls to also live there.
In 1955, Fr. Joseph Kelchak was appointed pastor in Webster and Crescent Lake. By this time the increased parish membership required the building of a new church. Realizing liturgical changes were imminent, Fr. Kelchak had the altar in the new St. John the Baptist Church face the congregation, a change adopted during the Second Vatican Council, which began in 1963.
In the spring of 1972, a bell tower with three bells was built in front of the church. That same year, Charles Tollanders deeded the current rectory in Webster to the parish. Because of the growing needs of the parish cluster, Fr. John Drummy, who was assigned temporary administrator in 1980 and pastor in 1985, directed the expansion of St. John the Baptist Church in 1982. The addition included a multi-purpose center.
REFERENCE: Our Journey through Faith: A History of the Diocese of Superior,
by Sam Lucero, 2005.