CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
“The beautiful church in the middle of nowhere.”
That’s how Fr. Tom Biersack has heard St. Andrew Parish in the unincorporated town of LeRoy referred to.
It’s not that he objects.
Despite being embedded deeply in the rural area of Dodge County, the parish, or more specifically the gorgeous building that was erected early in the 20th century, is a draw for sight-seers.
Named to the National Registry of Historical Places on Jan. 27, 2010, Fr. Biersack notes that it is sometimes referred as the “Cathedral of the Marsh,” a reference to nearby Horicon.
While the parish benefits from the glorious architecture, like all parishes, it is much more than a parish.
Home to about 300 families and about 950 members, the parish has been a staple of life in LeRoy since it was founded in 1849.
“One of the things about this parish is the parish is in their blood,” Fr. Biersack said. “There’s fifth-, sixth-generation. Even if they technically live outside the parish boundaries, they’re going to come back here because this is just part of them from the beginning.”
While the historic building has undergone touch-ups over the past 100-plus years, it still retains much of its original charm and flavor.
However, new to the parish is a hall that has a capacity of 290 people and is host to three or four events a month, including the town’s annual Halloween party (there’s no trick-or-treating in LeRoy), along with church functions.
“We’re quite pleased with how that turned out,” Fr. Biersack said of the hall, which opened in 2017. “It’s a sign of hope. Our people are committed, for a small parish to take on that project.”
Fr. Biersack noted the parish’s restoration fund is well-financed and many parishioners leave money in their wills for the fund.
The parish is also involved in the community through youth sports. The parish owns land in back of the property that is used for three baseball diamonds for the LeRoy Athletic Club.
“This is a densely Catholic area,” Fr. Biersack said. “Years ago, when people were growing up in town, everybody was Catholic.”
St. Andrew is part of three parishes that have many activities intertwined, along with St. Theresa in Theresa and St. Mary in Mayville. St. Andrew has collaborated with St. Mary since 1999 and St. Theresa joined the multi-parish grouping in 2013.
Founded April 23, 1849, St. Andrew is believed to be the oldest Catholic parish in Dodge County. German immigrants from Bavaria were among the first to clear the land in this area with a determination sustained by their faith in God.
In the fall of 1899, Fr. Blum was commissioned by Archbishop Frederick Katzer to lay the cornerstone for the new church. On Sept. 25, 1901, St. Andrew Church was consecrated.
PLAN A VISIT
St. Andrew the Apostle Parish
W3081 Highway Y
Lomira, WI 53048
Sunday: 8 a.m.