CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
The mission statement of St. Therese Parish, 9525 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, is as modest and powerful as its namesake, and is reflective of its founding by the Pallotines in the 1920s.
“We are a community of believers who walk together by faith in Jesus Christ, and minister in the Little Way of St. Therese, as we strive hand-in-hand to live as God’s people.”
Fr. Joe Koyickal, the provincial for the Pallotines, has been the part-time administrator of the parish since October 2017.
“I would say this parish lives by that mission, because to minister in the Little Way of St. Therese, everybody tries their best to be involved, engaged in some way,” Fr. Koyickal said.
That sense of everyone being involved is almost a necessity, as the parish is one of the smallest in the archdiocese, with approximately 300 families and about 650 members.
“We get to know each other soon,” Fr. Koyickal said. “There’s more interaction and we get to know people easily. It’s a small community. As a parish, every family is involved in some way. They have a good sense of community here.”
The parish’s connection to the Pallotines was certainly a draw for Fr. Koyickal, who was the pastor at St. Vincent Pallotti from 2001-08.
Originally founded at the Little Flower Mission, an offshoot of St. Anthony, the parish was formed to serve the largely Italian neighborhoods in the western part of St. Anthony Parish. It became an independent parish named after St. Therese (who had been canonized in 1925) on May 1, 1956.
The current church building was dedicated on June 4, 1961.
The charism of the Pallotines is working with lay people to revive faith and rekindle charity.
Fr. Koyickal describes it as, “To awaken in everyone a sense of mission and apostolic consciousness.”
Toward that end, the parish takes a monthly collection during sharing weekend for a different cause. Some of the groups helped in 2018 were ACTS Housing, Capuchin Community Services, Greater Tosa Interfaith, My Good Mourning Place and Kathy’s House. The parish also takes a collection every month for its maintenance fund. The parish’s St. Vincent DePaul Society cooks food each month and then delivers it to a meal site.
“The community’s very generous and supportive, I would say,” Fr. Koyickal said.
Because of shifting demographics and its location within walking distance of the Zoo Interchange, where I-41 and I-94 meet, St. Therese is now less of a neighborhood parish and more of a commuter parish.
“Many of them come far away,” Fr. Koyickal said. “We even have a family from Madison that comes pretty regularly.”
Going forward, the parish, which is in a cluster with St. Jude and St. Vincent Pallotti, is working on a strategic plan to streamline activities.
PLAN A VISIT
St. Therese Parish
9525 W. Bluemound Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226
Saturday: 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m.
WHO WAS ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX?
“I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul.”
These are the words of Thérèse of Lisieux (Jan. 2, 1873-Sept. 30, 1897), a Carmelite nun called the “Little Flower,” who lived a cloistered life of obscurity in the convent of Lisieux, France. And her preference for hidden sacrifice did indeed convert souls. Few saints of God are more popular than this young nun. Her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul,” is read and loved throughout the world.
Thérèse Martin entered the convent at the age of 15 and died in 1897 at the age of 24. Life in a Carmelite convent consists mainly of prayer and hard domestic work. But Thérèse possessed that holy insight that redeems the time, however dull that time may be. She saw in quiet suffering a redemptive suffering, suffering that was indeed her apostolate. Thérèse said she came to the Carmel convent “to save souls and pray for priests.” And shortly before she died, she wrote: “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”
Thérèse was canonized in 1925. On October 19, 1997, Pope John Paul II proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church, the third woman to be so recognized in light of her holiness and the influence of her teaching on spirituality in the Church.
Her parents, Louis and Zélie, were beatified in 2008, and canonized in 2015.
She is the patron saint of florists, missionaries, pilots and priests.