Establishment of a Polish Church in Green Bay
On February 10, 1898 Vilatte (owner of defunct St. Stanilaus Kostka Church) signed over the church, its contents, and two lots to the Green Bay Planing Mill which had foreclosed on him. On the following Monday, February 11, 1898, the Green Bay Planing Mill, represented by J.S. Chase and James Robb, sold the church to Bishop Messmer for $1,025.00. Included in the sale were the lots, the altar, the pews, and the church bell. Since St. Mary’s parish was not yet incorporated in the state of Wisconsin, Bishop Messmer made the purchase and signed as “Bishop of Green Bay and Trustee of the Polish Catholic Congregation of Green Bay”.
Next, the Old Catholic Church was remodeled and decorated and necessary purchases were made for it. It was dedicated by Bishop Messmer on Tuesday, February 22, 1898, and given the patronal title of St. Mary of Czestochowa (pronounced: Chen-sto-ho-vah) after the famed miraculous shrine in Poland.
St. Mary’s Church – a Mission to Pine Grove
St. Mary of Czestochowa church was the fifty-eighth Polish church established in the state of Wisconsin. Because it had no residence of its own for a priest as yet, it was established as a mission church affiliated with Holy Trinity Church, Pine Gove, and attended by its pastor, Father Malkowski. Not all of the Poles of Green Bay joined St. Mary’s parish after a church was provided for them in 1898. Some in the north and west sectors of the city evidently considered the distance to St. Mary’s church too far. Thus, some Polish families remained at the Cathedral. Others were found belonging to St. Patrick’s and SS. Peter and Paul parishes.
Bishop Messmer offers St. Mary’s to Franciscans
Shortly before April 20, 1899, Bishop Messmer offered the Green Bay Polish parish to the Polish Franciscan Fathers of Pulaski, Wisconsin. With the permanent settlement of the Franciscan Fathers in Green Bay, the title of the church and monestary was changed from Our Lady of Czestochowa to St. Mary of the Angels in 1900. Besides being easier to ponounce by non Poles, St. Mary of the Angels is a title of a little church in Assissi, Italy, called the Porticuncula (little portion) and is the cradle of the first church of the Franciscan Order in the whole world. It was the beloved church of St. Francis of Assissi.
The Franciscans of the Assumption Province, Pulaski, Wisconsin, have been a vital part in the growth and progress of St. Mary of the Angels parish family, in its more than 100-year history.
The Mission Statement of St. Mary of the Angels parish reflects our Franciscan heritage and our philosophy of reaching out to others.
Our Mission Statement
We, the Catholic Community of St. Mary of the Angels, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and inspired by our Franciscan heritage, boldly live the Gospel of Jesus by prayer, worship, sacrament and by compassionate service to those in need in our parish, community and the world.