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Parish Established with a Belgian Priest



Bishop Joseph M. Koudelka, who was aware that the spiritual needs of the Belgian families living in Allouez would be better served if they had a Belgian priest, appointed Fr. Rudolph Hanssens, OFM.

The parish limits of St. Francis, which had once extended from Central Park to Itasca, would with the new parish, end with the Nemadji River. The two mile walks on Sunday for Catholics in Allouez would no longer be necessary. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass would now be offered in their own neighborhood.

Upon arriving in Superior from Antwerp, Fr. Hanssens who was an inveterate hand-shaker, was quickly accepted by the residents of Allouez, grateful they now had their own priest. He wasted no time in sharing with them his dream to build a church, a school and convent which one day would be completely surrounded by the homes of Belgian families. Finding land and securing the necessary funds to build a church were the first priority.

In no time, Fr. Rudolph was overseeing the construction of the Church, often sleeping in the homes of parishioners. By making it clear that there would be no immediate plans for building a rectory, perhaps the pastor was trying to set an example for his parishioners to live simply until adequate funds could be found for the church and school.