St. Mary's Catholic Church
in East De Pere, Wisconsin

Diederich and Parish History

St. Mary's Catholic Church, De Pere, Wisconsin

1670 Father Claude Allouez founded St. Francis Xavier Mission.
Fr. Allouez and his companion, Fr. Louis Andre, built a chapel on the east bank of the Fox River.
1687 Chapel burned during an Indian uprising.
1728 Mission closed.
1823-53 Catholics were served by itinerant priests.
Ostensorium given to St. Francis Mission by Nicholas Perrot was discovered by Fr. Florimond Bonduel in Michigan.

Various nationalities began to build a church.  The building was directed by Fr. Florimond Bonduel, but it was destroyed by fire before it was completed.   Services were held in the Reynen and Cook homes until 1864.

John Diederich, his wife, Anna, and three children, Gertrude, Peter and Michael, emigrated to the United States sometime between 1843, (when Michael was born), and 1847 when they settled in the Town of Lawrence, Brown County, Wisconsin.
Fr. William Verboort appointed first resident pastor of De Pere by Bishop Henni of the Diocese of Milwaukee.   He built a chapel on the Lewis Street site.

Gertrude Diederich, oldest daughter of John and Anna (Clasen) Diederich, married Philip Goetz on 3 April 1866 at St. Mary's.  Fr. Verboort officiated and Jos. Diederich was a witness.
1868 The Diocese of Green Bay was created.
1868 Wilhelmina Van der Heyden's birth is recorded in the baptismal register of St. Mary's Catholic church at De Pere, p 60, for 1868, as follows: "Baptized Sept. 4th an infant born today, daughter of Joannis van der heyden and Josina Manders, married. Named Wilhelmina. Sponsors: Joannes Van der Lienden and Catherina Van den berg." It is signed by the Reverend W. A. Verboort.  She married John William Diederich in 1890.


Hollanders, Belgians and Germans separated from the Irish and established the Immaculate Conception Parish and built a new church.  Present church is part of the original structure.   The Irish gave $2,859 to build this church.

Church was completed.   Legend has it that Fr. Verboort cut the cornerstone and carved the figures on it himself.  The bell now in the church is the original one.  The church contained 114 pews of 5 seats, 3 altars, 1 main and 2 small altars.  There was also a statue of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph.
1871 Joseph Diederich, son of John and Anna (Clasen) Diederich, married Anna Catherine Ostermann 2 May 1871.  Father W. A. Verboort presided.
1874 John Diederich's death on 18 August was recorded in St. Mary's death register and signed by Father W. A. Verboort. 
Fr. Verboort left De Pere and went to the State of Oregon, Portland Diocese.  Fr. William Takken became pastor.
1876 Fr. Anthony Van Grotel became pastor.
1876 Michael Diederich's death is recorded in the Liber matrimonii et Dufuctorum (marriage and death book), p. 35 at St. Mary's
Membership of the parish increased to 300 families.
Fr. William De Kelver was named pastor.

Gertrude Theresia Diederich married John Pennings at St. Mary's.  The Liber Matrimonii et Defunctorum (marriage and death book) of St. Mary Catholic church at De Pere contains this entry on p 238, which has been translated from the Latin:

Third September 1878 marriage was initiated between John Pennings, age 25, son of Peter Pennings and Henrica van den Berg, born in Holland, and Therisiai Dideriks, age 21, born in De Pere, daughter of John Dideriks and Anna Dideriks. Present were Anton Dideriks, Maria Dideriks and me. Attested: A. Van Grotel.

1878 John William Diederich married Cecilia Van der Heyden at St. Mary's 13 June 1878 or possibly, 14 June 1875, but their marriage is not recorded in St. Mary's records.  Reverend William De Kelver presided.  The Brown County records provide the record of marriage and the priest's name.
1879 Anna (Clasen) Diederich's death in June is recorded in St. Mary's death register and signed by Father A. Van Grotel.  (Apparently he was still present at St. Mary's in June 1879).  Anna's name is given as "Gertrude" Diederich, the reason for this is unknown.
1880 Antone Diederich, son of John and Anna (Clasen) Diederich and Mary Klipstein were married 16 January 1880.  The entry in the Liber matrimonii et Dufuctorum for Antone's marriage, p 242, gives his mother's name as "Gertrude Anna".

Fr. John Verstegen was appointed pastor. A School was built and there were 246 pupils in the school. It was taught by 4 nuns. During this time there were four societies in the parish:
St. Joseph Benevolent Society – 50 members
Ladies Altar Society - 100 members
Catholic Knights of Wisconsin – 50 members
Young Ladies Sodality – 110 members
It was during this time the church property was enlarged to the entire block as it is now.

Cecilia (Van der Heyden) Diederich, wife of John William died 22 May 1887 after the birth of George Joseph.  There is no record of her death in St. Mary's records, or in Brown County records, but she is buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery next to her son George Joseph, who died in August, and her in-laws, John and Anna (Clasen) Diederich.
1890 First rectory was built.
1890 John William Diederich and Wilhelmina Van der Heyden (younger sister of Cecilia) were married 15 April 1890.

The Liber Matrimonii et Defunctorum (marriage and death book) of St. Mary's Catholic church at De Pere contains this entry for 1890 on p 264, which has been translated from the Latin: "15 April joined together in matrimony Joannes Diederick and Wilhelminan van der Heiden. Witnesses were Josephus van der Heiden and Nina van der Leest." The entry was signed by the Reverend Joannes Verstegen, pastor at that time. The entry also recited that a dispensation had been granted from the impediment of a collateral relationship in the first degree which existed because of the prior marriage of John Diederich to Wilhelmina's sister.

1891 Stained glass windows installed in church, donated by Mr. And Mrs. E. Verstegen and the Young Ladies Sodality.
1892 Four more stained glass windows were installed. Three from the ladies group and one from Fr. Verstegen.
1893 Church enlarged and remodeled at a cost of $7,000.

Census – 277 families of 2 or more persons.
6 widows
7 widowers
31 single not belonging to a resident family
644 males 7 years or older
629 females 7 years or older
296 children under 7 years old
1,569 Total
1903 Stained glass windows in front installed – donated by Mr. And Mrs. E. Wellens and the congregation.
1904 Fr. William Van Roosmalen came as pastor and remained until his death in December of 1925.
1906 Old rectory building moved to corner of Huron and Lewis Streets. New rectory was built which is the present building.
1912 New convent built. The nuns had been living with St. Francis nuns until this time.
1925 Fr. Francis Peters became pastor and stayed until he retired in1942. He was known to carry coins in his pocket to reward students for good grades when giving out report cards in school.
1929 Stained glass windows were repaired by Pittsburgh Art Glass Co.
1937 Parishioners were asked to donate 10 cents at each Mass in lieu of raising dues, “pew rent” to help finance the school.
1940 Christian Ladies founded – first president Mrs. George Smits.
1942 Fr. John DeVries was pastor. On January 11, 1942 fire caused $2,500 damage started in Christmas trees behind the main altar during the 9:15 Mass. It was the fire that destroyed a 60-year-old painting of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
1943 Fr. Cornelius Raymakers became pastor.
1946 Fr. Thomas Peters, assistant, was appointed to chaplain service in the U.S. Navy 9/7/46.
1947 Fr. Martin Vosbeek appointed pastor. Father broke his leg shortly before going to the Holy Land. He rode a white donkey during Palm Sunday precession while there.
1952 School built in 1822 razed. Present part of school on Huron Street was built.
1956 Fr. Joseph Kools became pastor.
1957 Fr. Raymond Hietpas was pastor. He organized the Cub Scouts. The Boy Scouts had been founded previously. St. Mary’s “Mighty Midget” boxers were started in school by Fr. Hietpas, while an assistant. He retired in 1977.
1959 New convent built, choir loft remodeled and organ rebuilt.
1960 A cafeteria and 8 classrooms were added to the school.
1967 Mass was said in English and altars were turned around shortly thereafter.
1968 Interior of church remodeled for 100th year anniversary. Church carpeted for first time.
1971 Consolidation of school with St. Francis – named Notre Dame. One of the first to consolidate in the Diocese of Green Bay.
1976 During the painting of the church steeple in August of 1976, the steeplejack fell to his death. Fred Desmond was killed when the rope used to raise him to the top broke.
1977 Fr. John Vander Horst became pastor after Fr. Hietpas retired. Exterior of church sandblasted and tuckpointed. Interior of rectory was remodeled. Frank Kremer was ordained permanent deacon by Bishop Wycislo and assigned to St. Mary and St. Willebrord parishes.

Fr. John Gallagher came as temporary administrator from August 9, 1978 until January 31, 1979.
Rectory renovated and electrical updated.
1979 Fr. Ronald Hopfensperger was pastor.
1980 Interior of church was painted.
1982 Fr. Earl Brouchoud was pastor. New doors and fans installed in church.
1984 Fr. Frank Schrage pastor. Ventilator windows installed in church. Sr. Jeanne Jarvis came as Pastoral Associate.
1985 Rectory and church steeple painted.
1989 Fr. James Gilsoul appointed administrator for June. Later that year Fr. John Gallagher came as pastor. Church was recarpeted and new chairs were purchased for the Sanctuary. Rectory electrical updated. Windows behind altar were uncovered. Parish records were computerized.
1990 Fr. V. Anthony Dolski was administrator from October 30 to November 28. Fr. John Harper appointed administrator on November 28 and became pastor in March of 1991.
1991 Bell tower and steeple repaired and painted. Rectory boiler replaced. Portions of three stained glass windows repaired. Windows in sanctuary releaded. School boiler replaced. Began monthly Healing Mass. Sr. Kathleen Schlaefer came as Director, Health Care Ministry and Coordinator of Adult Education.
1991-92 Church renovated. Liturgical changes included Blessed Sacrament moved to side chapel, new lectern and microphone installed. Entrances to church upgraded.
1992 Church and school insulated. Parish office moved from rectory to school in October. Asbestos removed from gym floor and replaced.
1992-93 Re-roof gym and Huron Street wing of school and convent.
1994 Christ Risen statue carved by Igor Vasilijev of Lativia was unveiled at the Easter Vigil Mass. Asbestos removed and floor replaced in the Cafeteria.


1869 – 1875
1875 – 1876
1876 – 1881
1881 – 1882
1882 – 1904
1904 – 1925
1942 - 1943
1943 – 1947
1947 – 1956
1956 – 1957
1957 – 1977
1977 – 1978
1978 – 1979
1979 – 1982
1982 – 1984
1984 – 1989
1989 – 1990

Fr. William Verboort
Fr. William Takken
Fr. Anthony Van Grotel
Fr. William De Kelver
Fr. John Verstegen
Fr. William Van Roosmalen
Fr. John De Vries
Fr. Cornelius Raymakers
Fr. Martin Vosbeek
Fr. Joseph Kools
Fr. Raymond Hietpas
Fr. John Van Der Horst
Fr. John Gallagher, Admin.
Fr. Ronald Hopfensperger
Fr. Earl Brouchoud
Fr. Frank Schrage
Fr. James Gilsoul, Admin.
Fr. John Gallagher
Fr. V. Anthony Dolski, Admin.
Fr. John H. Harper
1925 – 1942
1926 – 1933
1933 – 1934
1934 – 1936
1936 – 1942
1942 – 1945
1945 – 1946
1946 – 1951
1951 – 1955
1955 – 1957
1957 – 1963
1963 - 1964
1964 – 1966
1966 – 1968
1968 – 1970
1982 – 1984
Fr. Francis Peters
Fr. Michael Fetko
Fr. Samuel Engl
Fr. Martin Vosbeek
Fr. Raymond Hietpas (later became Pastor)
Fr. R. Thomas Peeters
Fr. John Johanek
Fr. Jerome Watry
Fr. Roy Crain
Fr. Arthur Hoell
Fr. Willard Van De Loo
Fr. Cyril Van Heeswyk
Fr. William Feeney
Fr. James McInnis
Fr. David Van Stralen
Fr. Richard Meneau
Fr. Michael Somers

Diocese of Green Bay was established by Pope Pius IX on March 3, 1868.  At present it includes the following counties:  Brown, Calumet, Door, Kewaunee, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marinette, Monominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Washara, Winnebago.

Most Rev. Joseph Melcher
Bishop Francis Xavier Krautbauer
Bishop Frederick X. Katzer
Bishop Sebastian G. Messmer
Bishop Joseph J. Fox
Bishop Paul P. Rhode
Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona
Bishop Aloysius J. Wycislo
Bishop Adam J. Maida
Bishop Robert J. Banks
1868 – 1873
1873 – 1885
1886 – 1891
1892 – 1903
1904 – 1914
1915 – 1945
1945 – 1967
1968 – 1983
1984 – 1990
1990 –
Auxiliary Bishops:
Most Rev. John B. Grellinger
Most Rev. Mark F. Schmitt
Most Rev. Robert F. Morneau
1949 – 1974
1970 – 1978
1979 –
Vicars General:
Very Rev. Edward Daems
Very Rev. Frederick Katzer
Very Rev. James O’Malley
Very Rev. Norbert M. Kersten
Very Rev. Joseph John Fox
Monsignor Peter J. Lochman
Monsignor Joseph A. Marx
Monsignor Chester A. Ropella
Monsignor Roy M. Klister
Mosignor Paul Koszarek
1868 – 1879
1879 – 1885
1886 – 1891
1892 – 1893
1894 – 1903
1904 – 1931
1932 – 1967
1967 – 1977
1977 – 1984
1984 -

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