The History of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Leopolis.



The Village of Leopolis was founded in 1865 by Nathan Leopold. The first settlers of 16 families were mostly Bohemian, with a few German and French. There was no church building in which to gather, so they worshipped outside. When the area became more developed, worship services were held in private homes.

After 11 years, a Friar from the Mission of Keshena arrived on horseback on Sunday June 5, 1876. Fr. Amandus Masscheliein, a French-Belgian priest, celebrated the first official Mass using the kitchen table in the log home of Matthias Cerveny. He served the Leopolis Mission from 1876 to 1880.

In 1886, residents picked the highest spot in Leopolis on which to build a log church and completed it the next year. The Alter was built by Cerveny. Membership was about 15 families. They Dedicated the church to the Bohemian patron saint, St. John Nepomucene. At first, the Friars from Keshena celebrated Mass and administered the sacraments at St. John Church every second and fourth Sundays. They were served by many other priest, most only staying for two years each.

The congregation grew to 45 families. Out-growing the church building, the built a new 80-by-32-foot church with a basement. It had a tower that ends in a spire to house the bell from the old church, with a cross at the top. the Congregation wanted to place the new church under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin. Bishop Joseph Fox blessed the new St. Mary of the Assumption church during its dedication in 1912, thought the cornerstone reads 19211. A new main alter was purchaced in 1911. Stained glass windows were added in 1920. Two side alters and two statues were purchased in 1928. During the early years, the Leopolis congregation was shuffled from one mission to another: Keshena (1876-1888), Sacred Heart, Shawano (1888-1890), St. Rose, Clintonville (1890-1893), back to Shwano (1893-1909) and St. Francis, Gresham (1909-1946).

In 1946, St. MAry Church became and independant parish with Fr. Anthony Baier as resident pastor. Under his pastorate, the parish rectory and sacristry were added in 1949. He served until 1954. Between 1954 and 2006, the Parish had Nine resident pastors.

No major changes to the building were made until 2004, when Fr. Harry Hafeman initiated the building of a side entrance with an elevator to make the church handicap accessible. This project was complted and blessed by Bishop David Zubik in 2006.

The same year, St. Mary Parish was linked with the parishes of St. Anthony, Tigerton St. Mary, Marion and Holy Family-StWilliam Parish, Wittenberg. At that time, Fr. John Girotti was appointed pastor of all four parishes with Fr. Hafeman assisting him. During Fr. Girotti's pastorate, the parish began a ceiling restoration project with traditional painting done by professional artist from Milwaukee. The project was completed in 2010 under Fr. Patrick Lloyd, Pastor. In 2012 the Church underwent more renovation, including a new Alter, which was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Robert Banks.