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Sunday Mass–No Short Order for Allouez

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1882-1913

What began as a small trickle before the founding of the parish, when the pastor of St. Francis, Fr. Eustace Vollmer, O.F.M. would come to Allouez at least twice a month (with residents reciprocating on intervening Sundays), would soon become 400-500 people a day crossing the bridge in order to connect with the street car line.

The two mile walk–not always an easy journey whether for the portly Fr. Eustace or Allouez’s residents who would often have to trudge through snow on their way to Sunday Mass. They received slight compensation from late spring to the end of summer (as white clover bloomed in wild profusion). The air was filled with a fragrance that made the walk delightful.

Until Ss. Anthony and Margaret school opened in 1925, Jay Dhooge (d. 2012) and other children of Allouez would walk across the timbers of the 4th Street bridge to attend St. Francis school. The wooden bridge would eventually be torn down and replaced by a concrete bridge on 2nd Street.

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Belgian Devotion to St. Margaret of Cartona

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An image of St. Margaret of Cortona is depicted in a stained glass window at the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee.

St. Margaret offers hope to anyone who wants to turn their life around for the better, but struggles to do so—caught in the grip of a vice and living a life of habitual sin. By her intercession, people have been given the grace to open their hearts to sorrow and have been given the courage to confess their sins in order to receive the gift of God’s mercy. St. Margaret is also the patron saint of single mothers.

As a young woman Margaret eloped (fleeing her stepmother) to become the mistress of a young nobleman. She bore him a son, and lived with him for nine years. When he was murdered by bandits, she viewed the incident as a sign from God to publicly confess her affair.

Although she wanted to return home, her father would have nothing to do with her. Instead, she and her son found shelter with the Friars Minor at their church in Cortona. Margaret earned a living by nursing sick ladies. Later she gave this up to serve the sick poor without recompense.

While still young and attractive, she would sometimes have trouble resisting temptations of the flesh, but after each encounter, she would have such an extreme dislike of herself, she would try to make herself unappealing to men. One time, she even tried to mutilate her face.

Eventually, Margaret joined the Third Order of St. Francis (although some members did not wholeheartedly welcome her because of her past). Her son became a Franciscan a few years later.

After Margaret developed a deeper and more intense prayer life, she began to have ecstasies during which she received messages from heaven. Margaret preached against vice of all kinds and many people, through her, returned to the sacraments. She also demonstrated an extraordinary love for the Eucharist and the Passion of Christ.

Parish Sacramental Life

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1914–1917


The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was the soul and the heart of the parish. The 39 Catholic families of the parish, most of them Belgian, understood what an awesome privilege it was to watch their priest during the Mass when the heavens opened and multitudes of angels came to assist him. Three Franciscan saints also graced the altar: St. Anthony of Padua (donated by Mrs. Heytens), St. Margaret of Cortona, and St. Colette (donated by Peter DeCleene).

The first choir, organized immediately after the church was built, consisted of Joseph Snoeck, Con DeCleene, John Gotelaere, Napoleon Rotsaert, Napoleon Naeyert, Arthur de Clerck and Con Shears. Joseph Snoeck was director. The choir sang without accompaniment during Mass and the trombone was used at rehearsals. In 1916, a small organ was purchased and Miss lilah Sullivan became church organist.

The first person baptized in the new church was Francis Jospeh Janssens on October 18, 1914. On October 16, 1914, Joseph Maria, the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Jacques, was buried from the new church. The first marriage, August 16, 1915, was that of Hubert Van Grinsven and Mary Lydia Davidson, a convert.

The Stations of the Cross were donated by the Franciscan Sisters of Bayfield and canonically erected on July 25, 1915. Mrs. Cole, with the help of eight donors, was instrumental in procuring the statue of the Infant of Prague: Mrs. Want, Mrs. VadenBerghe, Mrs. Powels, Mrs. Gotelaere, Mrs. Leeman, Mrs. Meys, and Mrs. Vergauwen.

A New Altar from Italy

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1919


In 1919, Father Kubelback procured a beautiful new altar from Italy replacing the simple one the Franciscan priests had donated just a few years earlier.

The altar being the place where the sacrifice of the Mass was offered had in its middle at the back of the mensa a golden Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved. It was lined and curtained on the interior with silk.

In front of the altar, and below the mensa, was a wooden hand carved image of Michelangelo’s Last Supper depicting the reaction given by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would betray him. All twelve apostles have different reactions to the news, with various degrees of anger and shock. Behind the tabernacle were also hand carved images of the Sacred Heart (center) with the Blessed Virgin (left) and St. Joseph (right). (Click on photo to view larger photo).

Devotion to St. Anthony

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1928-1930


A public novena of nine Tuesdays in honor of St. Anthony was made in 1928 for the first time as a preparation for the Feast of St. Anthony on June 13. The following year the thirteen Tuesdays were made in preparation for the feast. An in 1930 the perpetual novena in honor of St. Anthony had begun. Ever Tuesday special prayers have been said in honor of the great Wonder Worker followed by Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament.

First Communion in 1949

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1949


Each May the students in the second grade would make their first communion (see 1949 photo; notice the two angels on each side of the altar. These are the same angels we have flanking the tabernacle in the church today).

The second graders would prepare for many weeks, memorizing prayers and practicing songs. Included in their preparation, of course, was how to receive the host on their tongues and swallow it without touching it with their teeth or scratching the roof of their mouth with their tongue. In order to present their best selves to Jesus, the students were also taught how to process in, keeping their hands folded.

Parish Life in the 1950’s

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Msgr Kubelbeck at a First Communion mass in May 1957.

Msgr Kubelbeck at a First Communion mass in May 1957.

1950’s


In 1953, active organization included: Holy Name Society (150 members) and Ladies Altar Society (85 members).

The Choir had 25 members. There was also a Grade School Choir which would sing for funeral masses. The students were excused from early morning classes and were well aware of the solemn service in which they participated.

In 1953, school attendance was 152 in four classes. The school sisters were Sister M. Amanda, M. Coronata, M. Philothea and M. Josella. Sister M Clarentia was the house sister. School days started with daily Mass.

During Forty Hours Devotion, the students took one-half hour turns during the school day to be in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which was exposed in church. Many candles and beautiful flowers adorned the altar.