Church celebrates 150 years
Bishop to visit Weyauwega parish
By Angie Landsverk
Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church is celebrating two milestones this year.
One of them is the church’s 150-year presence in the community and the other is 50 years in its building at 608 E. Main St., Weyauwega.
Both are being celebrated on Sunday, June 26.
The Milestones’ Celebration begins at 9 a.m. inside the church with a bit of history before moving outside, where a youth member of the parish will portray Archbishop John Henni, children will sing and Bishop David Ricken, of the Diocese of Green Bay, will bless the church grounds.
As those in attendance walk into the church for the 9:30 a.m. Mass, they will be greeted by two members of the church.
One will be dressed as St. Peter and the other as St. Paul.
Ricken will be the celebrant, and the Rev. Xavier Santiago, Ss. Peter and Paul’s pastor, will be the co-celebrant.
Santiago invited the bishop to be part of the celebration, and the community is invited as well – to attend all or parts of it.
The Mass will include youth musicians and children singing.
The readings will be from the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which is on June 29.
After the Mass, 150 balloons will be released.
Each balloon will include a card, with a prayer and the church’s address on it, signed by members of the parish.
A free picnic lunch will follow.
Other activities will include the burial of a time capsule, which will be opened in 25 years, as well as the display of church artifacts, a slide show, a bean bag tournament, a dunk tank, face painting and games for children.
The winner of the raffle will be drawn at 2 p.m.
Raffle tickets need to be purchased in advance and are being sold at BMO Harris Bank and First National Bank, both in Weyauwega, and also at the Hitching Post.
The history of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish dates back to 1866.
On July 2 of that year, Archbishop John Henni, of Milwaukee, purchased land located on East Street in Weyauwega.
Ss. Peter & Paul’s first church was built on that land in 1885.
A parish report of 1893 listed 19 members, with dues of $6 a year and a total of $138 collected that year.
Prior to 1902, the parish was attached to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Manawa.
Then it became a mission of St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Waupaca.
In 1910, the archbishop of Milwaukee transferred Weyauwega to the Diocese of Green Bay.
On Nov. 9, 1941, the parish became a mission of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church of Lebanon.
Rev. Walter Tuschel was Ss. Peter and Paul’s first resident pastor, arriving in Weyauwega on Sept. 16, 1955.
Within a year, a parsonage was built.
As the church’s membership grew, it was common to see people standing at the end of the sidewalk during summer Masses.
In 1966, the church’s present home on East Main Street was completed.
At the time, there were no funds for a bell tower.
With the congregation missing the sound of the bell, the Parish Council of Catholic Women proposed in 1973 that a new bell tower be built.
The parish raised funds for a bell tower, and the bronze 800-pound bell was sandblasted and polished before it was moved in 1979, from East Street to its present location.
The new bell tower was designed to match the church design.
The first time it rang was on Easter morning, and the first time it sounded the funeral toll was for Isabelle Tessen, whose family erected the wooden tower which held the bell in the old church.
The former church building continued to serve the people of Weyauwega and the surrounding area as a St. Vincent de Paul Store until 2010.
Sold in 2011, the building remains standing today.