Take a drive north along Giddings Avenue and as you begin to approach downtown Sheboygan Falls, you can’t miss it. Right there, on your left. Three towering, iron spires arching to the sky crowned by a cross with the prominent church bell hanging beneath. On the ground directly below this iron arch stands a very large statue of the Blessed Mother.
This beautiful monument welcomes all at the entrance of Blessed Trinity Parish. The name Blessed Trinity suggests this church was named after the Holy Trinity. However, that’s not the case. The Blessed Trinity name actually refers to the merger of two Sheboygan County churches – St. George and St. Rose of Lima – and a name change for the third, St. Mary’s in Sheboygan Falls.
St. George Catholic Church, which dates back to 1848, was located in the town of Wilson and was one of the first Catholic churches in Sheboygan County. While no known picture of the first church exists, tradition tells us that it was a log structure. For the first 12 years, there was no resident pastor and the church was a mission of St. Mary Magdalene in Sheboygan.
In 1860, the Rev. Carl T. Schraudenbach oversaw the building of a rectory at St. George. He also began recording baptism and marriage records. Seven years later in 1867, an updated church was built under the guidance of the first resident pastor, the Rev. Patrick Sebold (1861-89) and the congregation had 101 members. St. George was permanently closed in 2007.
The second church in this trinity was St. Rose of Lima in the town of Lima. It was built in the spring of 1861 and it was the Rev. Schraudenbach who celebrated the first Mass on Oct. 12 of that year. For the next four years, Rev. Michael Haider celebrated Mass once a month.
In 1869, the Rev. John Mueller was appointed to St. George and was assigned to serve both St. George and St. Rose churches. From there, several different priests fulfilled those duties until 1899, when St. Rose became a mission of St. Mary’s in Sheboygan Falls. This arrangement continued until 1923, when St. Rose again became coupled with St. George. St. Rose permanently closed its doors in 2006.
And now, the third link in this church trinity.
In 1896, St. Mary’s Catholic Church was organized and built on the same grounds that Blessed Trinity occupies today. According to church historical records, St. Mary’s came to be largely through the efforts of a man named George Brickner. The first resident pastor was the Rev. Charles Keyser, who served until 1903 and in 1920. Under the Rev. George Goesl, St. Mary’s was remodeled.
In 1965, ground was broken for a new church under the guidance of the Rev. Harold Herbst. This is the church building that Blessed Trinity parishioners and visitors are familiar with today. The first Mass was celebrated Nov. 8, 1966 and the church was dedicated April 18, 1967.
The actual beginning of Blessed Trinity parish was the result of collaborative efforts between St. Mary’s, St. George and St. Rose. The records say that “dialogue on interparish ministry, the Renew program and the celebration of a single Eucharist for all three sites at the single location of the high school auditorium helped to bring the reality of eventual merger home to us all.”
After a series of consultations with the communities involved and with the priests who were charged with their pastoral care, the time was determined to be right for a merger of these three parishes and to proceed with the establishment of this new parish. Archbishop Rembert Weakland decreed the merger of St. Mary’s, St. Rose and St. George into one new parish – Blessed Trinity. The three parishes became Blessed Trinity Parish and Fr. Eugene Neuman became Blessed Trinity’s first pastor with its creation in 2001. Reflecting on the long and winding road that eventually led to the formation of Blessed Trinity brings a smile to the face of Fr. Joseph Dominic, its current pastor. A native of India, he is a member of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, commonly known as the Pallottines, which has missions in several parts of the world.
So it was that he came to work in the USA with his first assignment as pastor of St. Lawrence in Hartford. From there, he was transferred to North Fond du Lac and Eldorado before being assigned to Blessed Trinity. Fr. Dominic says he clearly remembers the first time he saw the bell tower and statue of the Blessed Mother and still uses it as a landmark when directing others to pay him a visit. “When some of the Pallottines came here, this particular statue of the Blessed Mother seemed large and impressive particularly beneath the bell tower,” said Fr. Dominic. “They immediately noticed it and when my friends come from North Fond du Lac or from St. Lawrence, I tell them to look for the bell tower and the statue. They never miss it.”
When asked what feature of this parish impresses him the most, Fr. Dominic immediately points to the people of the congregation.
“It’s a wonderful parish with a really faith-filled community that is truly interested in the welfare of the parish,” said Fr. Dominic. “The different councils and committees work together to benefit the parish. I love the parish and the momentum that they keep up.
“Many of the parishioners are well-knit into the fabric of the social life here in Sheboygan Falls. They are extremely friendly people.”
One of those parishioners is Jim O’Neill, who came to Blessed Trinity with his wife and three children six years ago. He recalls immediately feeling at home in his new church surroundings.
“When they closed our previous church, my wife and I looked around at a couple of parishes in Port Washington and we also came here,” O’Neill recalled. “The first Mass we ever attended there were some young high school-age children doing their readings on Sunday and the music was fantastic. We liked the atmosphere and the pastor at the time, Fr. Bob Lutz. We loved his homily and he was a real educator. We just decided that this parish held what we were looking for.”
Once a visitor steps inside Blessed Trinity, he or she will observe several interesting features. A large, welcoming sanctuary seating area leads to a beautiful altar area with a large crucifix depicting the risen Christ. The church’s historic merger is also represented with statues dedicated to St. George and St. Rose of Lima.
“When people come into the church, they will immediately see the beautiful altar and nice, large sanctuary,” said Fr. Dominic. “It offers a very prayerful atmosphere to those who come to pray and worship with us. People tell me when they come that they can quickly find our church, come in and sit down and experience a very serene, peaceful atmosphere. Everyone is welcome, and praying together is a great experience here because there is a lot of spirit here and it is so beautifully displayed during our weekend celebrations.”