Parish History

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History of Holy Cross

Catholic settlers in the St. Croix area were first visited in the 1840's by Fr. Auguste Bessonies, working out of Leopold.  These settlers were French and Belgian Catholics, to judge from the names, soon to be strengthened by many Irishmen. 

Fr. John P. Dion, the last of the old French missionaries, followed Fr. Bessonies in 1853.  In 1855, he established a station in St. Croix, celebrating mass on May 3, the feast of the Invention of Cross.  Fr. Dion purchased out of his own pocket 34 and acres of land, and with 5 and acres donated by John Dupaquier, assembled a 40-acre parcel in 1856.  A log church was built over the next four years and dedicated in 1860.  He settled in as resident pastor in 1866, until his retirement in 1880.  Newly ordained Fr. Charles Bilger succeeded the old missionary. 

          The congregation grew.  Traffic changed.  The church location was thought inconvenient.  William McHugh and John Flannagan gave each of them 2 and acres for a new site, closer to the highways.  A beautiful stone church in the Romanesque style, designed by Fr. Roman Weinzaepfel, OSB, was erected and dedicated on the Invention of the Cross, May 3, 1885.  Fr. Bilger was transferred to Celestine in 1891, and with his passing from the scene, we may think the age of the founders to have passed.

          Years since the founding have seen the steady round of parish life and worship, the care of family and the praise of God, interrupted but once by the fire of 1932.  The Byzantine tower is a reminder of the reconstruction.  Fr. Raymond McGinnis presided over the centennial of the parish in 1960, a moment of grace and splendor in the memory of all.  Fr. Andrew Diezeman was the last resident pastor.  After his retirement in 1989, the Archdiocese committed the care of Holy Cross and St. Isidore to one pastor. 

The last parish shooting match was in 1995.  In 2003, a Rummage & Craft Sale was organized in the fall, and money from this event, repeated in 2004 & 2005, has been put to refurbishing the interior of the church.    


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