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One-half mile north of the small settlement of Custer, in the Township of Stockton, stands our
“little white church on the hill”, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The area was first settled by Irish-Catholic immigrants during the early 19th century and the first
Mass was celebrated here in 1840 in the home of Owen Fehely by the Rev. Sale, S.J. There were also
Polish Catholics living in the area, who arrived in greater numbers during the 1860’s and joined the
growing parish.
For the next 35 year, the Spiritual needs of the people were in the care of missionary priests,
some coming from as far away as Milwaukee. When St. Stephen parish was established in Stevens Point
in 1853, the priests from that congregation visited the small Custer church quite regularly to offer the
Mass and bestow the sacraments. These priests also tended to the parishioners of St. Martin Church of
Ellis, whose first building was erected in 1857. St. Martin’s remained a mission of St. Mary’s until the
parish was dissolved in the 1970’s. Many former St. Martin parishioners then joined St. Mary.
In 1875, the church building was erected primarily by the labor of parishioners under the
supervision of contractor, Michael Herbert. It was well-built and still stands today, one of the few
original wood-frame churches remaining. The land for the church and cemetery was donated by Timothy
O’Leary, Sr. The rectory was later built in 1886 under the guidance of the first resident pastor, Fr.
Joseph Augustine Geissler, who served there from 1886-1890.
Bishop F. X. Krautbauer of the Green Bay Diocese dedicated the church on November 16, 1875.
The first recorded Baptism is that of Timothy Leary on July 9, 1876. The first wedding, performed on July
19, 1886, united John J. Turish and Bertha Prain. The funeral of Richard O’Keefe took place on July 8 of
that same year, another first. The oldest grave monument in the cemetery memorializes Mrs. Matilda
Conniff, who died April 25, 1856.
In the ensuing years, electricity and indoor plumbing were added, a hot-air furnace replaced the
numerous stoves then in use, and tin roof was installed. Under the leadership of Fr. Joseph Schafer in
1935, the parish unanimously decided to provide a basement hall and a better heating system. The
excavation work began on July 20, 1936 and was completed by mid-October. The Parish Hall has since
hosted a multitude of parish social events, funeral dinners and card parties. Additional expansions took
place in 1968 and 1972 in part, to enclose the front entrance and add class-room space for religious
instruction. As the parish grew and more classrooms were needed, a former public school was
purchased and re-purposed for the religious education of our youth.
Many vocations emerged from Immaculate Conception parish. Fr. Robert S. McCarthy, who left
Custer as a young boy, was ordained to the priesthood in 1942. Several women took vows as Religious
Sisters: Catherine O’Keefe (Sr. Mary Bernardine), Monica O’Keefe (Sr. Mary Mona) in 1917, Mary
Margaret Corrigan (Sr. Mary Faith) in 1922, Bonita Wiczek (Sr. Mary Narcissa), Sr. Marceline Zblewski,
and Sr. Anita O’Keefe who entered the Benedictine Order in 1959.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the many people who have gone before us. They worked
together through times of plenty and times of difficulty to ensure a place for worship and instruction as
a lasting tribute to the gift of their Faith. All for the greater glory and honor of God.

Our History

Parish Leadership Through The Years

1886-1890 Fr. Joseph Geissier
1890-1892 Fr. J.D. Schwartzmeyer
1892-1894 Fr. John Hummel
1894-1899 Fr. J.A. Bourgmeyer
1899-1905 Fr. E.P. Lorigan
1905-1908 Fr. E.A. Schwaeble
1908-1910 Fr. C. Ulrich
1910-1913 Fr. George Schemmer
1913-1919 Fr. Joseph Bartelme
1919-1923 Fr. Louis Schorn
1923-1927 Fr. Victor Kaude
1927-1929 Fr. H. Van de Castle
1929-1938 Fr. Joseph Schafer
1938-1945 Fr. Harry Schuller
1945-1950 Fr. James Geyer
1950-1962 Fr. Emil Hodnik
1962-1968 Fr. Bernard Novak
1968-1969 Fr. Andrzejewski
1969-1970 Fr. Ray Peters
1970-1972 Fr. Paul Fladd
1972-1980 Fr. John Wisneski
1980-1987 Fr. Dan Kozlowski


1987-1989 Fr. Herb Zoromski

1989-1992 Deacon Florian Hurrish, Pastoral Associate
1989-1995 Fr. Al Wozniak
1992-2000 Sr. Annette Johnson, Pastoral Associate
1995-1996 Fr. Lyle Schulte
1995-1997 Fr. Steve Kachel, Associate Pastor
1996-1997 Fr. Joseph Konopacky
1997-1999 Fr. Steve Kachel
1999-2001 Deacon Art Schaller
1999-2003 Fr. Robert Schaller
2000-2003 Chris Burr, Pastoral Associate
2003-2006 Fr. Sotico Florida
2006-2009 Fr. George Thayilkuzhithottu
2009-2012 Fr. Rajen Anandan
2012-2015 Fr. Jude Dioka
2015-2016 Fr. Daniel Hackel
2016-2019 Fr. Greg Michaud
2019-2021 Fr. Alan Guanella
2021-present Fr. Mark Miller

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