608 E Main Street
Weyauwega WI 54983
Ss. Peter & Paul Parish is steeped in rich Catholic tradition and provides history dating back to as early as 1866. When Wisconsin was granted statehood in 1848, Gill's Landing on the Wolf River provided access to this area for passengers and supplies. Henry Tourtelott and his Indian wife were the first known residents to migrate to this locality where a small mill was put into operation on the present dam site of our river. Eight years later, additional settlers made it possible for the community to incorporate as a village. Long a favorite campsite of the Winnebago tribe, the village was given the name of Weyauwega, folklore saying it translates to "Here we rest". They called the river Waupaca, meaning " Tomorrow".
Archbishop Henni of Milwaukee purchased the land located on East Street on July 2, 1866. Ss. Peter & Paul's first church was built on this land in 1885. A parish report of 1893 lists 19 members, dues at $6.00 a year and a grand total of $138 collected for the year. The parish was attached to Sacred Heart, Manawa, prior to 1902. It then became a mission of St. Mary Magdalene Parish, Waupaca. The archbishop of Milwaukee transferred Weyauwega to the Diocese of Green Bay in 1910.
In 1892 a book, "The Catholic Church in Wisconsin" published by the Catholic Historical Publishing Company, Milwaukee, stated:
"For the present, the German congregation at Weyauwega, Waupaca County, is attended by the resident priest from Hortonville. Mass is said there once a month on Sundays and weekdays about two or three times a month. Formerly, the congregation for a period held its services in the same church as did the members of the mother parish, the building at that time being located near to the Village of North Port. Over a quarter of a century, however, this structure was destroyed by fire, and since that time the congregation at Weyauwega has maintained a church of its own. This little mission at the present time consisted of some thirty families."
On November 9, 1941, the parish became a mission of St. Patrick's of Lebanon. Father Walter Tuschel was the first resident pastor. He came to Weyauwega on September 16, 1955. A parsonage was built within the year. It has offered comfortable housing to the ten resident priests, assisting priests, administrators and guests the parish has had over the years. As the little church membership grew, it wasn't uncommon to find people standing at the end of the sidewalk at summer masses. Fr. Mark Schmidt (resident priest 1960-1969, later to become Bishop of Marquette, MI) had a dream! Along with dedicated parishioners and many fund raisers, the dream of the present structure became reality in 1966. Funds didn't allow for any type of bell tower at that time.
But, the congregation missed the familiar sound of the bell that had originally been donated by Frank Haffner's grandfather. It called them to worship, advised of a death in the parish family and called for joyful times, such as a wedding. In 1973 the Parish Council of Catholic Women proposed a new bell tower be built. The parish worked diligently to raise the funds for the bell tower. The bronze 800-pound bell was first sandblasted and polished before "St Bridget", (cast by H. Stuckstede and Company, St. Louis, Missouri, 1889) was moved from East Street to its present location in 1979. The new bell tower was designed to match the church design and was erected by Marks Construction Company of Berlin. St. Bridget was first rung on Easter morning to proclaim the risen Lord. Then, how appropriate that it should sound the funeral toller for the first time for Isabelle Tessen! Her family erected the wooden tower which held the bell in the old church.
The 121 year old former church continued to serve the people of Weyauwega and surrounding area as a St. Vincent de Paul Store until 2010. The old building was sold to an individual in 2011 and remains standing to date.
Both the old and new Catholic churches were located close to the public school to allow youngsters the opportunity to attend Christian Formation classes after school on Wednesday afternoons. That schedule changed to a pre-mass schedule in the fall of 2011. Thus, grades one through Confirmation receive religious training on Sunday mornings. Very young children are invited to attend "Liturgy of the Word" during the homily at Sunday masses. Renew, a small group, faith-sharing program for adults, began in the diocese in 1982. In 1997, Pope John Paul II and Green Bay Diocesan Bishop Banks again stressed the importance of faith sharing. It continues today, inviting Catholics and non-Catholics to experience growth in their faith in an informal setting.
As there is a shortage of priests, parishioners continue to pray for vocations. Ss. Peter & Paul Church currently shares our parish priest, Fr. Brian Belongia, with St. Mary Magdalene, Waupaca, and Sacred Heart, Manawa. We look back on the history of Weyauwega and our Church and realize that by truly trusting in God's plan we will all continue on the right path.
Ss. Peter & Paul Parish Priests
Rev. Walter Tuschel 1955 - 1958
Rev. Willard McKinnon 1958 - 1960
Rev. Mark Schmitt 1960 - 1969
Rev. Edward Haessly 1969 - 1977
Msgr. Chester Ropella 1977 - 1978
Rev. William J. Rickert 1978 - 1986
Rev. Paul Feider 1986 - 1993
Rev. Cyril Dickrell, SDS (Temp) May - July, 1993
Rev. Charles Shebuski 1993 - July, 1995
Rev. Bertin L. Samsa, OF.M., Cap. 1995 - Jan. 2011
Rev. Brian Belongia 2011-2012
Rev. Amalraj Roche 2012-Present
Intertim Priests July - October 1995
Rev. Dennis Bergsbaken
Rev. Michael Tess
Rev. Dennis Bergsbaken