ST. FRANCIS — Mercy and growth can best characterize 2016 for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Internationally, Pope Francis designated 2016 as the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which focused on practicing corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

A mourner prays before the casket holding School Sister of St. Francis Margaret Held, Sept. 2, at the St. Joseph Center, Milwaukee. Sr. Margaret and Sister of Charity of Nazareth Paul Merrill were murdered a week earlier in their home in Mississippi. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the first nine of 26 Seton Catholic Schools began classes in September with an enrollment of 2,200 students; six of the schools are in Milwaukee. The school system is organized under the leadership of Kathleen Cepelka, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and Don Drees, president and CEO. By 2019, Seton Catholic Schools estimates it will have an enrollment of 10,000 students.

Following is a month-by-month look at the major local stories of the year, as reported by the Catholic Herald.


• Divine Mercy Parish sold the former St. Adalbert property in South Milwaukee to Al-Huda, a Muslim congregation, to become a mosque and religious education center.

• Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki posted to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s website a letter of apology to survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Issuing a letter of apology was part of the archdiocese’s plan of reorganization which Chief Judge Susan V. Kelley of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin approved Nov. 9, 2015, ending the archdiocese’s nearly five years in bankruptcy.

• Salam School, a Muslim grade school and high school, joined the Parkview Parochial Basketball League of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

• John Huebscher, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, retired Jan. 15, and was succeeded by Kim Wadas. He was the public policy voice of the state’s Catholic bishops.

• One hundred fifty Chinese nationals attended Catholic high schools in the Milwaukee Archdiocese through the Wisconsin International Academy exchange program.

• Holy Trinity Parish, Kewaskum, began a $2.5 million construction and renovation project to build a parish center/recreation facility/gymnasium and to install proper security measures to safeguard students at the Holy Trinity’s K-8 school.


• Msgr. Jeffrey D. Burrill, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, was named associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

• The Archdiocesan Synod implementation team responsible for evangelization and Sunday Mass developed a document containing three guiding principals that focus upon preparation for Sunday worship. These include welcoming those who come and who don’t come to Mass, and growing in faith as a result of the Sunday Mass.

• Faith in Our Future Trust approved two grants of $1 million each for the Seton Catholic Schools focused on transformational change in urban Catholic education.

• Bishop James P. Powers was ordained and installed as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Superior.

• Alverno College’s board of trustees selected Sr. Andrea Lee, a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as its eighth president. She succeeded Mary J. Meehan.


• Thirteen sites in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee participated in “24 Hours for the Lord” – a Year of Mercy initiative in which Pope Francis encouraged Catholics throughout the world to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Some sites included opportunities for eucharistic adoration during the March 4-5 event.

• Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, began planning its $1.8 million expansion project, which will include a gathering space and accommodations for handicap accessibility.

• St. Stanislaus Oratory, Milwaukee, prepared for its 150th anniversary with a major renovation project, including reconstruction of the church’s historic windows as well as general maintenance on the building such as tuck pointing, roof repairs and heating and air-conditioning.

• The renovated organ of St. Patrick, Milwaukee, was on display during the St. Patrick Day Mass.

Organist Dennis Wolfgang leads the Shamrock Club Choir in song during its 31st annual Mass in honor of St. Patrick at St. Patrick Parish, Milwaukee on Saturday, March 12. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

• UW-Whitewater renovated the back room of its campus ministry center into an adoration chapel.

• The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Milwaukee relocated its Martin Luther King north side meal program to All Peoples Church.

• The Majerus Family Foundation awarded a $315,000 grant to St. Thomas More High School’s gymnasium.

• Dominican High School, Whitefish Bay, won its fifth WIAA Division 4 state boys basketball title.


• Queen of Apostles Parish, Pewaukee, announced it would close its K3 through 8th grade school because of low enrollment, despite a $600,000 financial commitment from the parish to keep the school open for at least three years.

• Fr. David Zampino of St. Margaret Mary, Milwaukee, a married father of eight, was ordained under extraordinary circumstances that allow for the ordination of married men who had been ordained in non-Catholic, Christian denominations.

• After a 12-year absence, the carved wood Corpus returned to the cross in the Mater Christi Chapel at the Cousins Center, St. Francis. The Corpus had resided at Three Holy Women’s Holy Rosary Church since 2004.

• St. Anne, Pleasant Prairie, completed its Divine Mercy devotional area which was blessed by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. The devotional area is home to two handmade and hand painted statues from Italy, which depict St. Faustina and St. John Paul II.

• Mercy Housing, Inc. accepted five properties in Wisconsin from Franciscan Ministries, Inc., which includes 2,620 units of affordable housing.

• Capuchin Frs. Tien Dinh and Tom Nguyen were ordained April 30.

• The Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus marked 100 years of caring for delinquent boys in Wauwatosa.


• Eileen Mihm Schwalbach, president of Mount Mary University, announced she will step down at the end of 2016-17 academic year.

• For the seventh consecutive year, Good Shepherd Parish, Menomonee Falls, celebrated Pentecost with “Word Without End,” a tradition based on an ancient practice of a 24-hour continuous reading of Sacred Scriptures.

Fr. Matthew Widder, shared pastor of Holy Name of Jesus and St. Clement parishes, Sheboygan, and Susan Alby, after dancing the two-step, celebrate their victory in the 2016 Movers and Shakers Gala championship on May 14, a benefit for Lakeland College, Sheboygan. (Submitted photo courtesy Lakeland College)

• Jesuit Fr. Warren Sazama left his position as president of Marquette University High School to serve as pastor St. Thomas More Parish in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jesuit Fr. Michael Marco succeeded Fr. Sazama.

• The Archdiocese of Milwaukee welcomed Patrick Behling, Andrew Linn and Michael Wolfe into the priesthood; they were ordained on May 21.

• Fr. Matthew Widder, shared pastor of Holy Name of Jesus and St. Clement parishes in Sheboygan, won the 2016 Movers and Shakers Gala Texas two-step championship. He donated the $10,000 prize to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

• The St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation began its “Renewing a Destination of Inspiration” campaign to raise $7.5 million for emergency repairs.

• At St. Joseph Parish, Waukesha, a funeral Mass for lost airman, Airman Second Class Thomas Condon, was celebrated nearly 64 years after his death.

• The Tech Force Training Center, Milwaukee, officially opened May 24, and is connected to the Adult Learning Center on the St. Francis of Assisi Parish campus. The center’s mission is to help prepare people for jobs requiring technological skills.


• Bernadette and Jerry Strand celebrated the third ordination in their family, when their son, Vincent, was ordained a Jesuit priest on June 4. His two brothers, Fr. Luke and Fr. Jacob, are priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

• Catholic Memorial High School announced Dr. Tom Noonan as its principal.

• After 160 years, St. Mary School in West Bend closed. It was the longest continually operating Catholic school in the state and the third oldest in the nation.


• The Marian Center for Nonprofits announced it would cease operating. The property is owned by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and will be razed for a new convent that will be home for aging members of their order.

• Good Shepherd, Menomonee Falls, named its room of prayer and worship the Mary of Magdala Chapel on behalf of the parish’s members involved with the Women Celebrating the Spirit group.

• The former tri-parish cluster of St. Mary, St. Peter of Alcantara and Immaculate Conception, in Port Washington and Saukville, merged into St. John XXIII Parish.

• Fr. David H. Reith was appointed Vicar for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

• Barbara Anne Cusack, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, was elected chair of the board of directors of Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.

• To commemorate the Year of Mercy and World Youth Day, young adults made a 50-mile pilgrimage, on foot, from Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis to the Holy Hill National Shrine in Hubertus.

• An early morning fire caused approximately $100,000 in damages to the Franciscan Missions in Rochester.

• Local parishes became Pokéstops, as the video game app Pokémon Go became the summer craze across the country.

• More than 2,200 young people attended the Steubenville Conference on the Lake at Carthage College, Kenosha, to celebrate Christian faith and fellowship.

• The Catholic Community Foundation awarded $909,000 in grants to 108 organizations.


• Carol Abraham, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish, Twin Lakes, was selected Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin.

• Carroll University hosted the Ten Talents on the Glorious Organ concert, organized by Caroline Kobb, a member of St. Stephen Parish, Oak Creek, as a benefit for local organists and for the churches at which they work.

• Whitefish Bay native, Bill Bowman, was appointed dean of the Busch School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

• Shooting victim and native of Kenya, Simon Muema, made his first profession as a Salvatorian.

• In the wake of two evenings of rioting in the Sherman Park neighborhood, following the killing of an armed, 23-year-old man, Sylville Smith, by a Milwaukee police officer, approximately 450 people gathered at All Saints, Milwaukee, for a Mass for Peace.

• All Saints Catholic Church, along with other faith-based organizations and government entities in Milwaukee, created the “All Things in Common Initiative” to expedite direct services to residents in the central city.


• School Sister of St. Francis, Margaret Held, from Slinger, and Sister of Charity of Nazareth, Paula Merrill, were murdered in their home in Durant, Mississippi, where they served as nurse practitioners.

• Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, changed its name to St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish to reflect the canonization of Mother Teresa.

• The first of three cohorts for Seton Catholic Schools began classes. Six of the nine schools in the first cohort are from Milwaukee; the combined enrollment for the nine schools is 2,200 students. Seton Catholic Schools plans to operate 26 schools by the 2019-2020 school year with a projected enrollment of 10,000 students.

• St. John the Baptist School, Plymouth, commissioned artist Kitty Lynne Klich to paint a life-size oil painting that depicts the baptism of Christ.

• Fr. Bryan Massingale left Marquette University to join the theology department at Fordham University in New York as a faculty member for its new doctoral program in theological and moral ethics.

• Five deacons were ordained at the Cathedral of St. John Evangelist by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. The men who were ordained were James J. Starke, Joseph M. Senglaub, Henry O. Reyes, Steve F. Pemper and Theodore J. Faust.

St. Mary’s Springs Academy opened its doors to 850 students from kindergarten through grade 12 this fall. (Catholic Herald photo by Colleen Jurkiewicz)

• St. Mary’s Springs Academy in Fond du Lac completed its $26 million renovation, which included 100,000 square feet of educational, administrative and worship space that brings the middle and elementary school under the same roof as its high school.

• A peace garden was constructed at Northwest Catholic School, in honor of Laylah Peterson, a Northwest Catholic kindergartner who was shot to death at her Milwaukee home in November 2014.


• Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki entrusted the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the other four dioceses in Wisconsin to Mary, Mother of Mercy, marking the first time the entire state has been entrusted to the Blessed Mother at one time. Present at the act of entrustment was the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Fatima.

• Lumen Christi, formerly St. James and St. Cecilia parishes, renovated its Mequon site to unite the parish on one campus. The $11.5 million renovation included a 10,000-square-foot gym and parish activities center and expansion of its parking lot.

• More than 100 people brought the cremated remains of family members to the All Souls Remembrance Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Nov. 2, at Holy Cross Cemetery, Milwaukee. The Mass, a joint effort of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Archdiocesan Catholic Cemeteries, was an opportunity for people who had not, for whatever reason, interred the remains of their loved ones.

• The older of the two organs at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist marked the 50th anniversary of its installation.

• Messmer High School, Milwaukee, celebrated its 90th anniversary.

• NBC Vatican correspondent, Anne Thompson, and Jesuit Fr. Matt Malone, editor-in-chief of America Media, discussed the role of Catholic journalists during the annual Pallium Lecture at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.

• All Saints, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Immaculate Conception parishes, Milwaukee, and St. Bernard Parish, Wauwatosa, opened their doors for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s first Very Important Parishes (VIP) behind-the-scenes tour.


• Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki was elected to the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services, the official international emergency relief agency of the U.S. bishops.

• The Extraordinary Year of Mercy, designated by Pope Francis, came to a close Sunday, Nov. 20. Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki closed the Holy Door at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist to mark the conclusion of the Jubilee Year.

• 55 members of the Milwaukee Mercy Choir performed at St. Peter’s Basilica during the closing of the Holy Door ceremony that marked the end of the Jubilee of Mercy.

• St. Joan Antida and Messmer high schools, Milwaukee, announced they would bring a lawsuit against MPS if it does not provide bus transportation for their students.

• Members of the Our Lady of Lourdes Art Guild worked with inmates from the Milwaukee County Women’s Correctional Center on a collaborative art project, which included making a “smash” journal to help reconnect the prisoners with their spirituality through art.

• Catholic Memorial High School won the WIAA Division 3 state football championship.

• The Archdiocese of Milwaukee hosted the Inaugural National Catholic Prison Ministry Conference at the Cousins Center.


• Inspirio Youth Ministry, formerly known as TYME OUT Youth Ministry and Retreat Center, which hosts about 4,000 youth per year, announced it will close in spring 2017 after the organization staged an emergency fundraising campaign in February to keep its doors open.

• St. Sebastian, Milwaukee, celebrated its 50th annual Christmas Tea and Boutique to raise money and build community.

• The Catholic Community Foundation gave five churches a check of $15,000 each, the churches were: Holy Cross, Bristol; St. Catherine, Milwaukee; St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence; Immaculate Conception/St. Mary, West Bend; and Immaculate Conception, Milwaukee. The churches were the winners of the Foundation’s “Grant a Wish” promotion.

• The Holy Family Catholic Community in Fond du Lac performed a live Nativity for the first time. The production featured 50 actors and a menagerie of animals. Holy Family’s three associate pastors, Frs. Maximo Tzul, Thomas Naidu and John Mitchell played the three wise men.

• Parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Patrick, Milwaukee, processed to five historic sites on Milwaukee’s south side to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Spanish-speaking mission in Milwaukee.