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Building Together

Uniting Hearts & Spaces

Welcome

Welcome

Welcome to the "Building Together" fundraising campaign for

Saint Mary's Church! We are thrilled to announce an exciting opportunity to expand our church facilities with a new addition that will enhance our community's spiritual and social growth.

This new addition will include a social gathering space, a modern kitchen, ADA compliant access, and functional office.

 

Our goal is to complete the construction of the new addition in time to celebrate St. Mary’s 150th Anniversary in 2025.

To do that, we need to raise $2 million dollars.


We’re already halfway there: an anonymous donor has made

a fantastic $1 million matching fund challenge, which means

every donation you make will be matched dollar-for-dollar, effectively doubling the impact of your generosity. Let's unite

as a congregation and make our dreams for a vibrant, welcoming, and functional space a reality!

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Our Vision

At St. Mary’s, we are committed to providing spiritual, social, and educational opportunities for all God’s people.

This includes the power of shared moments to strengthen bonds and create lasting memories.

Our expansion project will enable us to realize this mission by:

  • Providing Versatile Spaces: Our expanded facilities will offer flexible spaces that can be used for weddings, private parties, funerals, and church socials, accommodating a variety of events and gatherings.

  • Strengthening Community Bonds: Together, we can create a space that fosters a sense of belonging and strengthens the ties that bind us together.

  • Doubling the Impact of Generosity: Your contribution will be matched, doubling the impact of your generosity and accelerating our progress towards our fundraising goal.

  • Leaving a Lasting Legacy: By donating to the expansion project, you are leaving a lasting legacy within our community for generations to come.

  • Enabling Outreach and Support: This addition will empower us to expand our outreach efforts and support more community-based programs, furthering our commitment to serving others.

History of 
St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Parish

Located just one-half mile north of the small settlement of Custer, within the Township of Stockton, stands our cherished "little white church on the hill," dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This historic place of worship traces its origins back to the early 19th century when Irish-Catholic immigrants settled in the area. In 1840, the first Mass was celebrated in the home of Owen Fehely by the Reverend Sale, S.J. Over time, the parish grew, welcoming Polish Catholics who arrived in greater numbers during the 1860s.

 

For the next 35 years, the spiritual needs of the community were tended to by missionary priests, some journeying from as far as Milwaukee. The establishment of St. Stephen parish in nearby Stevens Point in 1853 led to regular visits by priests to offer Mass and sacraments, not only to the Custer church but also to the parishioners of St. Martin Church of Ellis, which remained a mission of St. Mary's until its dissolution in the 1970s.

 

In 1875, the church building as we know it today was erected primarily through the labor of parishioners under the supervision of contractor Michael Herbert. It stands proudly as one of the few remaining original wood-frame churches, its land and cemetery donated by Timothy O'Leary, Sr. The subsequent construction of the rectory in 1886, guided by the first resident pastor, Father Joseph Augustine Geissler, further solidified the parish's presence.

 

On November 16, 1875, Bishop F. X. Krautbauer of the Green Bay Diocese dedicated the church, marking the beginning of a long and storied history. From the first recorded Baptism of Timothy Leary in 1876 to the expansion efforts of Fr. Joseph Schafer in 1935, which included the addition of a basement hall and modern amenities, the parish has continually evolved to meet the needs of its growing congregation.

Throughout the years, many milestones have been celebrated within these walls, from weddings and funerals to the emergence of numerous vocations, including priests and Religious Sisters. Their collective efforts, alongside those of countless parishioners who worked tirelessly through times of plenty and times of difficulty, serve as a lasting tribute to the gift of their faith. As we reflect on this rich history, we acknowledge our debt of gratitude to those who have gone before us, inspiring us to continue building together for the greater glory and honor of God.

History
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About the Initiative

As we approach the 125th anniversary of our beloved Immaculate Conception parish, it is a time for reflection, celebration, and forward-thinking. Our history, rooted in the dedication and perseverance of Catholic Irish and Polish immigrants in the 1860’s, is a testament to the power of community and faith. From humble beginnings in the home of Owen Fehely to the establishment of our "little white church on the hill," each generation has contributed to the growth and sustenance of our parish. 

 

The story of our church is one of building together. From the labor of parishioners who erected our original church under the supervision of Michael Herbert to the subsequent additions of a rectory, basement hall, and educational spaces, each structure stands as a symbol of our commitment to worship, fellowship, and education. Through times of plenty and times of difficulty, our predecessors worked tirelessly to ensure a place for worship and instruction, leaving behind a legacy that we honor and uphold today. 

 

As we look to the future, it is our responsibility as this generation to continue building upon this foundation. Just as those before us sacrificed and labored for the sake of future generations, so too must we invest in the growth and vitality of our parish. Building together is not merely a physical endeavor but a spiritual one, rooted in our shared commitment to the greater glory and honor of God. 

 

Therefore, as we approach this milestone anniversary, let us embrace the theme of "building together." Let us dream boldly and work diligently to build a social addition to our church—a space where fellowship can flourish, where bonds can deepen, and where the love of God can be tangibly felt. In doing so, we honor the legacy of our forebears and ensure that future generations will continue to find solace, inspiration, and community within the walls of our beloved St. Mary’s.

About the Initiative

Project Timeline

Timeline

After years of discussion, we're ready to transform our vision into reality. With recent anonymous donations matching up to $1 million, the time for action is now.

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FAQ
  • Why is the church undergoing an addition?
    · We have discussed an addition for many years to continue building upon our history and sustain this parish community for future generations. We have also recently received anonymous, in-kind donations of $1 Million in dollar-for-dollar matching funds and so, the perfect time is now.
  • What specific elements will be included in the addition?
    · The new addition will include a ground level porte cochere, social gathering spaces, functional office, modern kitchen, bathrooms, courtyard, increased sacristy, and ADA compliant access to the church.
  • How will the addition be funded?
    · Anonymous donors have made a $1 Million matching fund challenge to provide an in-kind, dollar-for-dollar match, effectively doubling the impact of your generosity. The remaining $1 Million must be raised directly with parishioners and fundraising campaign efforts of our church community.
  • Is my donation tax-deductible?
    · Yes, your donation is charitable and therefore tax deductible, in addition to expenses for volunteering or services you provided, which may ultimately lower your total taxable income. Click on this link to learn about charitable giving and tax benefits. Click on this link for the IRS Charitable Contributions page.
  • How much of my donation will go back to the Diocese?
    · None. The Diocese of Lacrosse does not receive any part of the donations to our building fund, which is held in a separate account and solely used to pay the expense of this construction project. If we are blessed to receive more donations than what is needed for the project, that money will remain in the parish building fund for any additional repairs within our church.
  • Will the church still be accessible during construction?
    · Yes, the church will remain open and accessible during construction.
  • What impact will the addition have on existing church programs?
    · This addition through our collective efforts will provide space for countless occasions to our growing Catholic congregation for weddings, funerals, sacraments, vocations, social gatherings, and more as we continue building together for the greater glory and honor of God.
  • How will the addition adhere to the architectural and aesthetic style of the existing church?
    · Our existing church has received continuous updates and improvements which we will retain and honor by combining this structure with the new addition, forming a cohesive connection between both structures to be aesthetically similar with ease of accessibility in several places.
  • Will additional parking be provided?
    · The parking after this new addition will be similar to our current capacity.
  • What measures will be taken to ensure environmental sustainability in the construction process?
    · Our architect and builder have been selected and are contracted to be compliant with environmental regulations and sustainable practices.
  • How can parishioners get involved in the addition project?
    · First and foremost, through your generous capital donations to bring us within close reach of our fundraising campaign goal is necessary to receive final approvals from the Diocese to move ahead with construction. · If you have any time or talents you would be willing to share in this endeavor, please complete the forms located on the table in the entrance of church. · Committees will be forming during the timeline of our new addition, so please continue to review our weekly bulletin. Also, go to our Stmaryscuster.net website and click on “Building Together Project” in the heading; the “Get Involved” section provides many additional details.
  • Will recognition be provided for donors?
    · Identified tiers of donors will receive recognition on our Giving Tree in the new addition space, starting at $500 and above. · Premier and distinguished donors will have the opportunity to name, or honor others’ names, in special locations within our new addition.
  • When is the expected completion date for the addition?
    · Our church will celebrate its 150th anniversary (Sesquicentennial) in November 2025 which is the anticipated completion date and bless, dedicate, and open our newly unified space.
  • Who is organizing and overseeing the new addition project?
    · Several groups are forming and starting to gather during the many phases, outside of our regular parish committees, for requirements such as fundraising and architecture. Review the “Get Involved” section on our Stmaryscuster.net website to see additional details. Everyone is welcome to get involved!
  • How will the progress of this project and fundraising be communicated?
    · Stmaryscuster.net website has the “Building Together Project” area to click and see many types of updates to keep everyone informed. · Weekly bulletins will provide additional updates or places to review. · Monthly updates are provided at our Sunday masses.
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