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Glimpses: The History of St. Francis Borgia – Adjusting to Change

As St. Francis Borgia Parish approaches its 175th anniversary (1844-2019), we continue to share articles about our congregation’s growth through the 1800s into the present. Thanks to Marty Moore for his diligent research for these articles.

Adjusting to Change

Our parish has evolved through times of growth and challenges. Outgrowing the 1844 log church, members built a frame church in 1852. St. Francis Borgia pastors also served St. Bridget, our mission church in Jackson. When St. Bridget closed, a new mission church (St. Mary) took its place, again served by our pastors. Ultimately, that church closed, with its members joining the St. Francis Borgia community – by then at the stone church – to form a single Cedarburg parish.

In 1870, the early Irish settlers surely had their moments of worry and concern, shuttering the frame church of their Newland settlement and moving to Cedarburg, joining the German Catholics of the village in the new stone church. There were likely times when the different groups felt out of place, less at home than at their familiar old site. But in time a united community evolved.

By the 1960s, growth again strained the congregation. That strain eased with Divine Word Congregation, a daughter parish that was opened in 1970. The Cedarburg Catholic community was then split – not to be reunited for roughly 30 years.

In the late 1990s, growth and a priest shortage fueled worries and concerns, and talk of a merger began to circulate. Once again, change put unrest in the hearts of some. With the 2001-2002 merger transition, all parishioners worshiped together in the larger north church. Despite concerns and uncertainty, over time fears were replaced with new feelings of home.

In the beginning, the log church was razed, and later the frame church lifted from its site and moved to the farm next door as a storage building. But this time we could hold on to a historic treasure while advancing our parish into a larger more modern church and campus. Our precious stone church is a truly unique and special worship site. We are blessed to retain the best of both worlds.