CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
When Fr. Matthew Widder was a child growing up in Sheboygan Falls, his dentist’s office was across the street from Holy Name of Jesus Parish in the city of Sheboygan.
A week before he was ordained as a priest, his godfather’s mother’s funeral was at Holy Name of Jesus.
In June 2013, after spending his first three years of priesthood as an associate pastor at St. Mary in Hales Corners, Fr. Widder was assigned to Holy Name of Jesus and St. Clement.
Life had come full circle, even though he didn’t have any strong ties to the parish before his assignment.
“It kind of fell into place,” he said. “It’s such a great fit.”
Growing up in the area, Fr. Widder has a unique grasp on some of the flavor of the community and some of the areas that surround Sheboygan.
Holy Name of Jesus, St. Clement and St. Dominic (added two years ago) make up a three-parish multi community known as the Sheboygan North Parishes.
“Each parish has its own unique charism, but we collaborate in a lot of different things,” Fr. Widder said.
The oldest of the six parishes in Sheboygan, Holy Name of Jesus, was founded in 1845 and will celebrate its 175th anniversary in the year 2020.
Fr. Widder said the parish is still working on the details of the upcoming celebrations.
“There’s an incredible community feel and, in a healthy sense, a pride,” Fr. Widder said. “The church is a beautiful church. It’s built like a cathedral. The church has got an incredible amount of beauty both inside and outside.”
Some of that beauty was retained and enhanced during a renovation project that was completed two years ago. The project fixed some water damage and tuck pointing, and included a fresh coat of paint. Fr. Widder said there were six months when the interior of the church had scaffolding from floor to ceiling.
While the parish was founded in 1845, the current building, at the intersection of two of Sheboygan’s busiest streets, was built in 1868 at what is now Eighth Street and Superior, about a half mile from Lake Michigan. At the time, the parish priest had a handshake agreement with a local quarry and was able to get parishioners to haul stone from the quarry, and trees in the area were cut down for building materials.
Two of the parish’s biggest outreach efforts are an Emmaus Meal, which is a collaboration with other churches for a monthly lunch at the Salvation Army, and the Thanksgiving Food Box program, which draws more than 100 volunteers every autumn.
“Part of my hope is that anybody that steps into Holy Name of Jesus or any of the other churches encounters the presence of God, to encounter Jesus in a powerful, tangible way,” Fr. Widder said. “Christ should be tangible and real.”
Plan a Visit
Holy Name of Jesus Parish
818 Huron Ave.
Sheboygan, WI 53081
Sunday: 7:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m. (Latin)