In the Beginning – St. Andrew Parish, Verona, WI
A major consideration in deciding to bring a Catholic Church to Verona in 1917 had to do with meeting the spiritual needs of patients at the Dane County Hospital, located on the eastern edge of town. Father Andrew Mason gathered about 26 Catholic families from the area to form the foundation of the new St. Andrew parish. Within a year, the small but faithful congregation built a church at 133 North Main Street. Father James Nellen was the first resident pastor. The parish worshiped in that building until 1964 when a new church was constructed a block to the north. Several pastors served the faithful during those years. Among them were Fr. Joseph Webber, Fr. John Risch, Fr. Anthony Hermann, Fr. Lawrence Keppler, and Fr. Joseph Brechtl.
Father Thomas Massion and Father Eugene Bauhs guided the parish during the 1970’s. For the next twenty years, Monsignor Delbert Schmelzer shepherded the parish until his retirement shortly after the new millennium. Father John Stillmank was then appointed as pastor in 2001. Father Dave Timmerman served as pastor from 2003 until June, 2009. Father William Vernon served as pastor from 2009 until July, 2017. Father John Sasse served as pastor from 2017 to 2020. Father Robert Butz is the current pastor, 2020-present.
St. William Church – Paoli, WI
St. William Church (originally St. Raphael) was organized by a group of German and Irish families under Archbishop John Martin Henni of Milwaukee. During the 1850’s and early 1860’s, priests from Oregon, WI, celebrated Mass in the parishioners’ homes.
The church was first built on Schaller Road where the parish cemetery was located in 1869. Father John Obermueller of Madison was the first pastor. In 1872 Fr. Nicholas Stehle replaced him as resident pastor, and a rectory was built next to the the church. At that time, St. James of Dayton was a mission of St. William; however, when the Dayton congregation purchased a parsonage in 1874, the priest moved there, making St. William the mission church.
In the 1890’s the church became too small, and a new church was erected in the village of Paoli in 1900. Eighty-seven residents of Paoli and the vicinity, including Catholics and Protestants, pledged $3,810 toward the building of a new church. St. William later became a mission of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Verona, WI.
St. William Church was destroyed by fire on July 28, 1925, during the 25th anniversary celebration of the building of the church. The cornerstone of the new church was laid on September 13, 1925, and the first Mass was celebrated in the basement. In 1934 the church was remodeled, and on June 29, 1969, St. William celebrated its centennial.
Father Eugene Bauhs, resident pastor in Verona, began ministering at St. William in 1970. Monsignor Delbert Schmelzer became pastor until his retirement in 2001. He was assisted by various retired priests in the Diocese: Monsignor Edward Auchter, Fr. Joseph Niglis, Fr. Wilfred Schuster and Fr. Larry Heitke.
Father John Stillmank became pastor for St. William in June 2001. Father Dave Timmerman was pastor from 2003 until 2009. Father William Vernon was pastor from 2009 until 2017. Father John Sasse is the current pastor. Merging of parishes into one Guided by the Holy Spirit and under the direction of Bishop Robert C. Morlino in collaboration with parishioners, St. Andrew and St. William Churches officially merged in 2010. Together now as one parish, the two churches are called Saint Christopher Catholic Parish (which is comprised of the churches of St. Andrew and St. William).
St. Hermine’s Home for the Destitute
Saint Christopher parish family has adopted Saint Hermine’s Home for the Destitute as our sister parish. The Home is located in Tamil Nadu, India, with Father Norbert Thomas, director, and Father Joseph Isidore, co-director. The 35 girls and 30 seniors living in the Home in extreme southeast India are survivors of the terrible Tsunami of December 2004 that left each of them without their entire families. They have no one except Saint Hermine’s Home to take care of them.
We are invited to help donate to Saint Hermine’s Home as we are able. The parish now tithes to the Home on a monthly basis to help with food, clothing, school and medical needs. Individual contributions may be made with checks payable to Saint Christopher Catholic Parish, with a notation that the donation is for Saint Hermine’s Home. Donations will be wired on a semi-monthly basis directly to the Home’s account in India.