Our Parish History

Queen of the Apostles Parish

The parishes of St. Mary in Tomah and St. Andrew in Warrens merged together to form Queen of the Apostles Parish on July 1, 2015. 

St. Mary Immaculate Conception Parish

For well over 100 years St. Mary's 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-type 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.

St. Andrew the Apostle Parish

St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Warrens was dedicated in 1940, but its history dates back to 1896. According to journal records written in German, St. Andreas (the German spelling of St. Andrew) Parish was organized in March 1896 when families living in an area known as St. Andrew's Settlement in the Town of Millston in Jackson County voted to build a 22-foot by 40-foot church.

Serving on the building committee were Andrew Kirzinger, foreman; Mathew Lindner, secretary; John Ibinger, trustee; Joseph Meyer, John Schober, Michael Kirzinger, John Schuster, Theodore Koebler, Jacob Obermeier, Joseph Buckner, Adam Birner and George Gross. These men, along with others, provided the labor. The committee voted to borrow $100 from H.B. Mills, the founder of Millston, at an interest rate of 2 percent. A "promising note" signed by the members of the building committee and a Mrs. Riedel (first name not recorded) stated each would donate $10, because the loan did not cover all the construction costs. Mathew Lindner donated the land for the church. The men intended to have the building finished by Nov. 30, 1896, for the Feast of St. Andrew. But through unforeseen delays, it was nearly the end of December before the church was complete.

On Jan. 20, 1897, a horse-drawn sleigh was sent to Millston to pick up the clergy who traveled by train to officiate over the dedication of St. Andrew's Church. Rev. Peter Becker of Mauston led the celebration of the Mass. The sermon in German was given by Rev. Peter Schnitzler of Cashton, followed by a sermon in English by Rev. Henry Flock of Sparta. Father Louis Wurst of Tomah also attended. Father Wurst, pastor of St. Mary's Parish from 1893 to 1924, agreed to say Mass once a month at St. Andrew's Settlement for a stipend of $36. It was recorded that the parish paid him $50 instead.

The parish was originally a mission of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Fairview. Priests serving the mission parish in its early history included Fathers Lorenz Trompeter, John Ellmaurer, Rudolph Raschke and George Hardy.

John Smrekar of Millston recalled when Fathers Raschke and Hardy came on the first Tuesday of each month to conduct Mass. Father Raschke first traveled by train. Later he owned a car, as did Father Hardy. The pastors stayed two weeks during the summer to instruct the children prior to their First Communion.

Over the years, the community was served monthly by priests from Tomah, Black River Falls, Neillsville and other nearby towns. In the mid 1930s, the federal government purchased the land where the church stood as part of the Resettlement Administration's effort to move farmers residing on marginal land to more productive areas. After the families in St. Andrew’s Settlement moved, the church was no longer used.



Queen of the Apostles Parish Pastors

2010-Present Msgr. Richard W. Gilles
2001-2010:  Fr. Steven J. Kachel
1999-2001:  Fr. Richard Dickman
1987-1999:  Fr. Daniel Kozlowski
1984-1987:  Fr. Raymond Pedretti
1974-1984:  Fr. Francis Hillshiem
1972-1974:  Fr. Carroll Walljasper
1952-1972:  Fr. Francis Mulligan
1924-1952:  Fr. J.B. Brudermann
1893-1924:  Fr. Louis Wurst
1892-1893:  Fr. W. Weckes
1884-1892:  Fr. J.B. Metzler
1871-1884:  Fr. John Durward
1868-1871:  Fr. H.F. Quigley

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