Holy Family Parish in La Valle celebrates church centennial Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

La Valle 100th
The Holy Family Church in La Valle parish complex. (Contributed photo)

LA VALLE -- Holy Family Parish in La Valle will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the erection of its church with a special Mass on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 12 noon, with Bishop Robert C. Morlino presiding.

The church is located at 310 Bluff St. in La Valle. Fr. Sanctus K. Ibe is the pastor.

Dates back to 1915

Holy Family Catholic Parish of La Valle originated in 1915 under the leadership of Father Kriel. The first services were held in a vacant shoe store.

According to oral history of the parish, Father Kriel requested permission to build a new church in La Valle, but Bishop James Schwebach of the La Crosse Diocese urged them to raise the funds for a new church.

It was then that Mrs. Bridgette Coughlin wrote to the bishop and pleaded that La Valle be allowed to have its own church. The bishop would not give approval unless the money could be raised "on their own."

Mrs. Coughlin happened to meet Mrs. James Hill, wife of a railroad magnate, at a party in St. Paul, Minn. A few days after returning home, she received a check for $1,000. A fund for a new church was started. Many local residents donated such amounts as they could afford to enable the church to be built.

Church completed in 1917

Holy Family Catholic Congregation was legally incorporated and registered as of June 28, 1916. Land was purchased in 1916, and construction of Holy Family Church was completed in 1917.

It was dedicated in September of 1917. Much of the material and labor were donated for the building. Cash of $400 was used for the land and $5,139.75 for the building.

According to parish records, the first Mass server was Gilbert Peterson, who later became Fr. Gilbert Peterson. The first Baptism was William Butts. Members of the first Confirmation class were: Claire Byrns (Mrs. Dennis Harrison), Helen Shaughnessy (Mrs. Archie Dehler), Margaret Gates (Mrs. Peter Simon), Mrs. John Boshm, Lawrence Byrnes, and Dan Ogen.

Parish relationships

At the time Holy Family Parish was formed, it was a mission of St. Michael Parish in Ironton. St. Boniface Parish in Lime Ridge was also a mission of St. Michael.

In 1929, St. Michael Church was destroyed by fire. Holy Family and St. Boniface have continued to share a priest all the years since then. They were part of the Diocese of La Crosse until 1946, when the Diocese of Madison was formed and all parishes in Sauk County were transferred to the new Madison Diocese.


About the year 1940, Herman and Dorothy Diece donated a parcel of land, increasing the size of the church property, and an addition was added to the original church building.

In 1964, under the direction of Fr. Francis Heindl, water was piped up the rocky cliff to the church. Restrooms and a kitchen were installed in the lower level. Classrooms were added to the upper level.

In 1979, the parish celebrated another vocation to the priesthood from Holy Family as Fr. Bernard Rott, son of Godlieve and Robert Rott, was ordained.

In 1988, under the direction of Fr. Larry Bowens, a seven-acre parcel of land was purchased with expansion in mind.

In November 1992, a major building expansion added a new worship area, Adoration chapel, kitchen/dining area in the upstairs of the original church building, remodeled classrooms on two levels, and added an elevator to make the facility handicapped accessible.

In 1994, a small parcel of land was purchased from the Town of La Valle, which included the former town hall.

In 2003, St. Patrick Church of Loreto was also linked with Holy Family and St. Boniface. Under the direction of Father Bowens, Fr. Scott Emerson, and Father Ibe, the three parishes have worked well together as linked parishes sharing one pastor.

Continuing under Father Bowens' direction, a separate Annex building was completed in 2014. This new building included a church office, new accessible bathrooms and entrances, and a large meeting room which can be used for overflow seating in the event of large Mass attendance or can be converted into two classrooms for religious education.

In 2016, the office in the Annex building became the office for the Tri-Parish Catholic Community of the linked parishes of Holy Family, St. Boniface, and St. Patrick.

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