||Good Shepherd Church in Westfield was dedicated in 1961.
WESTFIELD -- Good Shepherd Parish in Westfield will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sunday, Aug. 21. A special Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated by Fr. Michael C. Richel, pastor. Former pastors and priest-friends of the parish have been invited to concelebrate the liturgy.
Prior to the creation of Good Shepherd Parish, Catholic residents of the Westfield area worshipped at St. John the Baptist Parish in Montello, St. Ann in Brooks, or St. Methodius at Pilot Knob (both in Adams County and part of the La Crosse Diocese).
Dream comes true
These residents always dreamed of having a Catholic parish in Westfield and so they shared that dream with Bishop William P. O’Connor of Madison. On March 9, 1960, the parish was officially established.
On March 12, 1960, Fr. Gideon Kosterman, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Montello, was also named pastor of the new parish and he proposed naming it Good Shepherd.
Later that year, land was purchased for the new church, building plans were developed, and a fund drive was begun. Construction continued on the new church and on June 28, 1961, Bishop O’Connor consecrated the altar. The first Mass in the new church was a wedding liturgy on July 1, 1961, and the church was officially dedicated on August 20, 1961.
Features of church
The church seats approximately 160 people with room for overflow seating in the gathering area. The lower level includes a large kitchen and classroom space for the religious education program.
Throughout its history, the parish has consistently maintained and upgraded its facilities. In the late 1980s air conditioning was added to the church, in 1989 the cry room was removed to create a gathering area, and in 1995 an elevator was installed to make both floors handicapped accessible.
Education in the parish
Good Shepherd has also made a strong commitment to providing sound catechetical instruction to its parishioners.
A formal religious education program was established in 1980 by Fr. George Fox under the leadership of Darlene Duley. She continues to serve as the director of religious education for the parish.
Linked with Montello
Good Shepherd has always been a mission parish of St. John the Baptist in Montello. Over the years, the linkage with St. John the Baptist has grown stronger. Today, the two parishes share a common staff and use joint commissions.
One of the largest collaboration efforts of the two parishes is the Fr. Marquette Lecture series held throughout the academic year that brings timely Catholic speakers to share their insight with the parishes of the northern part of the Diocese of Madison.
Good Shepherd and St. John the Baptist Parishes collaborate on other events including an annual appreciation dinner to highlight the efforts of many volunteers.
Holy Spirit is alive here
Speaking of the parish, Father Richel says, “What a privilege it is for me to serve as pastor of Good Shepherd along with St. John the Baptist here in Marquette County and to be part of these two great faith communities where God’s Holy Spirit continues to show itself in so many wonderful ways in word and deed.
“I say ‘continues’ because God’s Holy Spirit has been very much alive and active here for generations as witnessed in their lives of prayer, worship, sacrifice, and service for 50 years now at Good Shepherd.
“For 50 years God’s people have gathered to hear God’s word, celebrate Holy Mass and receive the Eucharist, bury the dead, baptize, celebrate first Communion and first Reconciliation, attend religious education classes, and socialize with one another.
“The faith-filled spirit of those first parishioners who sacrificed and worked so hard to build Good Shepherd Parish has been passed down these 50 years from one generation to the next and is still strong and well today. I am proud to be part of this heritage and honored to follow the previous pastors who have guided and lead this congregation of generous and devoted people.”
Good Shepherd currently has 192 families along with many seasonal members and visitors who enjoy the beautiful natural resources of Marquette County.