St Mary's Immaculate Conception - Parish and School

Parish History

Queen of the Apostles Church

Parish History


For well over 100 years Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church, with it's majestic clock tower and  steeple, has stood sentinel over the city of Tomah, Wisconsin. Situated on the top of the highest hill in town, it is a landmark that can be seen for miles.

The parish was incorporated under the title of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1867, but common usage gave it the shorter title of "Saint Mary's". The structure that serves our house of worship today was built in 1898 under the guidance of Father Louis Wurst, pastor at that time. It was constructed at a cost of between $17,000 to $18,000. In 1899, three clusters of lights and a bell weighing 1500 pounds were added to the church. In 1907, the pipe organ was installed; it was enlarged and electrified in 1932.

The church building was modeled after the Catholic Church on Saint Mary's Ridge, south of Tomah. The architecture is of Gothic design, characterized by pointed arches and vaulting. The red brick exterior is accented by projecting buttresses that give stability to the walls of the structure. Arches predominate over the doorways, in the steeple louvers, the stained glass windows, and above the steeple clocks.

The interior of the building also contains many arches. The ceiling is a series of steep, cathedral-typeChurch Sanctuary arches. The stained glass windows with arched tops depict beatified saints of the Catholic Church and are identified with the names of the families that donated funds for their purchase. Arches are visible in the Stations of the Cross which adorn the side walls, in the railing around the choir loft, in the painted designs around the statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, in the intricate designs in the hanging lights fixtures, and in the altar backscreen.

In 1939, Father J. B. Brudermann was pastor of Saint Mary's and Bishop McGavick offered him an assistant priest if he would take on the added duties and responsibilities of a small parish known as Saint Andrew's, located several miles north of Tomah. Father Brudermann agreed and a church building was moved from Millston to to Warrens, where many parishioners now lived. Saint Andrew's continues to be served by the pastor of Saint Mary's. Saint Andrew's parish celebrated the centennial of their church building in the fall of 1996.

Of the many changes that have taken place over the years, the most significant came as a result of Vatican II. On November 28, 1964, Mass at Saint Mary's was said for the first time with the priest facing the people. The Mass was now celebrated in English rather than Latin, and lay parishioners began to take on a bigger roll in assisting the pastor through church councils, liturgy, finance committees, and the like.

In 1990, an extensive renovation project was approved by parishioners at Saint Mary's. Exterior work during the summer months involved removing and replacing the roof, installing gutters and flashing, and replacing over 2,000 bricks, staining them to match exactly the existing brickwork.

In 1992, all of the stained glass windows were restored and re-leaded. Interior work began in 1993, and Masses were held in the school's multi-purpose room from January through Easter. Renovation involved replacing the wiring, refinishing the pews, installing a new speaker system, purchasing all new altar furnishings, carpeting the entire floor, and painting the interior. Upon entering the church, a completely new look was created by making a gathering room with a glass partition separating it from the worship area.

In 1996, a barrier-free entrance with elevator access to the school and church basement and a handicapped accessible ramp leading into the church were added. The church hall, P.C.C.W. kitchen, a meeting room and a ladies restroom were also completely renovated.