Glimpses: The history of St. Francis Borgia – Reuniting the Cedarburg parishes

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

Reuniting the Cedarburg parishes

In 1997, the Archdiocese advised that by June 2002 there would be only one priest in Cedarburg. The two parishes already had formed Strategic Planning committees to prepare for this eventuality. In early 1998, well-attended open meetings were held at St. Francis Borgia, where members of both parishes voiced their concerns and thoughts on how to proceed.

The parishes collaborated in many ways, from joint parish festivals to joint holy day Masses and first Communions. The
thinking was that the Cedarburg parishes would continue to operate separately, with weekend Masses at Divine Word because it was larger.

After much study, the pastors and parish councils concluded that operating separately wasn’t feasible. They requested a merger, and their plan was approved by Archbishop Weakland. The two parishes would keep the name St. Francis Borgia, with weekend Masses at the larger church, and weekday Masses at the historic stone church. This was announced to both parishes in an April 1999 newsletter from Fr. Ed Wawrzyniakowski of St. Francis Borgia and Msgr. T. George Gajdos of Divine Word.

Adjusting and adapting to this news was not easy. However, by July 2001, nearly all changes were made, including shared staff, consolidated religious education programs, a joint parish council, blended committees, etc. The last Sunday Mass was held at the stone church at the end of August and the first Mass for the combined parishes on Sept. 1. From then on, the parish was called St. Francis Borgia.

Despite the challenges and some difficulties, the parishes united. Both Fr. Ed and Fr. George continued their pastoral
responsibilities, leading the combined congregation through a transition period until Fr. Ed retired on June 30, 2002. Fr. George was then appointed the 28th pastor of St. Francis Borgia. In September 2002, Archbishop Dolan officially decreed the merger accomplished. This reunited the Cedarburg parishes into one Catholic community, as St. Francis Borgia had been for its first 126 years from 1844 to 1970.