Perry parish celebrates its 150th anniversary Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary M. Sutter and Mary C. Uhler, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Jul. 21, 2011 -- 12:00 AM
The current Holy Redeemer Church, Perry.

PERRY -- Members of Holy Redeemer Parish in Perry are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year.

In June, parishioners had a float in the Mt. Horeb Summer Frolic Parade. Riding on the float was Georgia Post, the oldest lifetime member of Holy Redeemer Parish. Joining her were parishioners Mary Sutter, Glenn Schwoerer, Mary Kay Sutter, Mitch Sutter, and Dan Hefty.

All of these families are part of the heritage of Holy Redeemer Parish, among many others.

Anniversary celebration

On Sunday, Aug. 7, there will be a 150th anniversary Mass at 2 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Church. A reception will follow the Mass.

There will be historical displays and church directories can be purchased. Burrows Consulting and Cemetery Service will also be available to help with geneology of the parish cemetery.

Early settlers

The early settlers came from Germany to farm in this area, which reminded them of their homeland.

The Town of Perry was established in 1849. The town was named after Commodore Perry of Lake Erie fame.

In the early days, Catholics in the area traveled on foot or by ox-team to attend Mass in Pine Bluff or Cross Plains.

The first Mass was offered in Perry by Fr. Lorenz Conrad of Cross Plains on April 22, 1855, in the home of John Keller.

By 1861, 29 families in Perry raised enough money ($618) to erect their own church. The Post, Goebel, and Keller families led in the construction of the original church.

Bishop Henni from Milwaukee dedicated the new Holy Redeemer Church and a mission was held in the same year.

Once the church had been completed, the families gathered each Sunday to pray the Rosary and the Litany of Saints. Then individual members would read the words from Scripture for all to ponder.

A priest came to celebrate the Mass and to administer the sacraments about once a month. In 1895, Holy Redeemer became a mission of St. Ignatius Parish, Mt. Horeb.

Permanent structure built

The decision to build a more permanent structure came in 1915. Among the many changes in this new structure, the main entrance of the church would face the south, instead of the west in the original structure.

The roof of the original church remained on site, raised for use during the construction for Mass and performance of other sacraments (i.e. Baptisms, marriages).

The Gothic-style red brick building was completed in the fall of 1916. The development of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church reflects the forefathers’ inner faith and spirit of sacrifice.

Education in the parish

In 1865, Holy Redeemer established a parish school of religion to be conducted daily during the summer vacation. A lay catechist, Michael Letz, was engaged as the first teacher. He taught from 1865 to 1873.

There was an interval of 19 years during which the school was discontinued. In 1892, at the suggestion of Fr. Ignatius Klein, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Pine Bluff, the German parochial school of religion was started again in Perry. Instruction in the Holy Redeemer School for many years was bilingual in German and English until sometime after World War I.

The three months of parochial school continued until 1930, when it was reduced to two and one-half months. It operated until 1937.

Catechetical instruction for grade school and high school students was organized beginning in 1953 with classes on Saturdays and in summer.

One of three strong partners

In 2003, Holy Redeemer Parish became one of three strong partners in a parish linkage. Fr. Thomas Gillespie serves all three parishes presently: St. Patrick in Hollandale, Immaculate Conception in Blanchardville, and Holy Redeemer in Perry Township.

Annual events at each parish have been attended by representatives of all three parishes, linking the three parishes in the Spirit.

The parishioner of today is concerned not only with personal growth in the Spirit, but also in being a Christian example in the outside world. Parishioners are offered opportunities to use their God-given talents and treasures.

Holy Redeemer Parish has an active group of Mass servers, lay commentators, and readers working side by side with a small group of musicians.

To this day, the Altar Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary, established in 1929 (presently named the Catholic Women) is an active group. This group organizes various parish activities including the annual ice cream social, pancake supper participation at St. Ignatius, food pantry/clothes closet volunteer services in Mt. Horeb, and funeral Mass dinners all year.

All members get involved

Periodic card parties and raffles have also involved all church members. Confirmation candidates have been invaluable members, whether they did their part during Masses or completed renovations in the church-gathering space.

The annual preparation for the various church seasons is well attended. Christmas decorating has become a community-building event, including all ages. The casual visiting outside of Holy Redeemer after all Sunday Masses has become an important function of this thriving parish.

To prepare the facilities for the upcoming 150th anniversary, members have gathered to beautify the inside and the outside of their beloved church.

Holy Redeemer remains a gathering place, a sanctuary, enabling each parishioner to find and develop one’s best self.

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