Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Cashton celebrates their centennial this summer
Millions of pilgrims travel to holy sites throughout the world. Ruins from biblical times and Catholic churches still standing from the first century are visited by thousands each year. Libraries are filled with books written about these sites, which hold a special place in the history of Christianity. They are testaments that the preservation of history is an important part to understanding our faith.
The age of sacred buildings and parishes in the United States pales in comparison to the long history of ancient European and Egyptian times. However, the road to achieving this history is the same. The journeys are similar. A celebration is measured more by conviction and commitment than by years. People have the same passion, faith and dedication as their ancestors did. They continue to endure and possess a drive to pass their heritage on to future generations.
What makes each celebration special are the people of the parish, and the telling of the parish story — a recounting of how it got to where it is today. This could not be possible without historians — those who take a special pride in preserving history through writings and photographs. These are the keepers of our faith.
One example of this dedication and faith is at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Cashton. They began their centennial celebration at the end of 2016 and continue their 100-year anniversary celebration into this year. With a Centennial Mass and dinner planned for July 9, 2017, invitations for the celebration have been extended to parishioners and former students of the parish school. The school was built in 1959 and continues to educate students in grades K-8.
Though a century has gone by, Catholicism near Cashton has a history that dates back more than 160 years. Relatives of current parishioners began their quest in 1856 to build a thriving community of faith within the region.
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish of St. Mary’s Ridge was formed in 1856. Located just five miles from Cashton, the parish continues to serve the faithful today. This was followed by the formation of St. Patrick Parish in nearby Bad Axe and Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Pine Hollow. After waiting 37 years from the founding of their village, the Catholics of Cashton finally realized their dream of having a church and parish of their own with the founding of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish.
With the church in Bad Axe destroyed by fire in 1936 and the Pine Hollow church dissolved in 1964 after the death of its priest, many of these parishioners then joined Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Cashton. Descendants of the area continue to carry on the faith of their forefathers here.
A book of the parish histories has been compiled by Mike Hansen and is being sold for the centennial celebration. Mike, a member of the parish his entire life, is the undisputed historian and keeper of the faith for the Cashton community.
“I think we can learn from history,” exclaims Mike. “Many parishioners over the past 100 years have put a lot of time and effort into the parish. I just wanted to record some of that so future generations have a way to reference it and carry it on.”
The Hansen family owned a farm across the road from Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Pine Hollow. With the farm in the family for 151 years, Hansen has a special connection to the history of the parishes and the surrounding Catholic community.
With an interest in local history, he’s researched archives and compiled the history of local businesses, and also wrote a book about the history of one-room schoolhouses in the area. Mike also previously wrote about the history of the Pine Hollow Parish. His daughter, Lindsay, is a graphic designer and helps him with the layouts and pictures.
Mike is passionate about documenting history and a community’s journey in faith, so as to ensure it’s not forgotten by future generations.
“It took a large number of people to get the parish to where it is today. A lot of people have shared their stories and information with me. We have to keep moving it forward,” he says.
By: Sharon Sliwka
Photography by Monica Organ and Art Ward