Our Lady of Lourdes, Dobie
The great migration of the 1800s fueled the movement of immigrants from many nations to the new world and intowhat is known as the Dobie area, where a strong Catholic community became rooted. This parish is the result of their strong desire to have a place of worship.
The first two immigrant groups were French (from Quebec) and Irish (from eastern Ontario). The French settled south and the Irish settled north of the Church. While culture, language, and background could have divided them (and sometimes did), they shared the hardships of settling new land. A love and reverence of the common Catholic faith kept them in an enduring community. Later they were joined by German, Swiss and Czech immigrants.
Our Lady of Lourdes is the site of the first Roman Catholic Church in Barron County. The first Mass was celebrated in George Roberge's cabin by Fr. Nacli in 1869. That same year Fr. George Keller, a missionary, marked out the location of the first church, a 40' x 70' log building located just north and east of this church.
Fr. Joseph Dolé became the first pastor (1876) and built the altars in the first church. During his pastorate, the first rectory was built (1878), $851.72 land across the road purchased for a school and a convent (1879), which were built in 1889-81. The school opened September 28, 1881, staffed by School Sisters of Notre Dame until 1968. The school had non-Catholic students and some of them boarded with the sisters. The school closed in the spring of 1970. In 1883 the congregation was incorporated under the name The Roman Catholic Congregation of St. Mary of Lourdes, Stanfold. The name was officially changed to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Congregation, Dobie, Barron County, Wisconsin in 1955 under the Pastorship of Fr. John Kauer.
The cemetery was located next to the church. The first marked grave is that of Thomas McGeough, December 3, 1875. Around 1900 pine trees were planted there. Their presence dominates the old section of the cemetery.
March 19, 1895, the first church burned. Fr. Dolé, after trying to save the Blessed Sacrament from the fire, died of smoke inhalation on April 3, 1895; his grave is marked by a large cross. A temporary church was built in the meantime.
In 1902, by a vote of 56 aye, 1 nay, the parishioners voted to build a new stone church. The stone came from the "Blue Hills" area, about six miles east from the church. Parishioners brought 2,613 tons of the red quartzite stone on sleighs in the winter of 1902-03. Nap Forrest hauled the biggest load — six tons. Under the foremanship of Joseph Brunette and the mason work of Ed Komas, the stones were shaped by hand, and raised to the wall by a jinny powered by Shimon horses. The finished church is 105' x 41'.
The interior of the church was finished, and a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was placed on top of the steeple. The statue was later moved inside the tower and replaced with a cross.
The new and present church was dedicated on November 17, 1904 by Bishop James Schwebach of LaCrosse, Fr. A.P. Berube being pastor. The relics of the altar were and are of Saints Bonora, Clarus and Athanasius.
On May 3, 1905, Pope St. Pius X created the Diocese of Superior.
The 1920s saw many changes. Fr. Edmund Savageau organized the Dobie band. He was also the first pastor to use a car in his duties. Between 1919 and 1920, electricity replaced the gas lights. In 1923-24, a new school was built and the convent extensively remodeled. In 1923, a hot water system with radiators was installed. In 1926 the church basement was dug out and finished. On March 6, 1927, in an open parish meeting, it was decided to build a new school. This was done under the pastorship of Fr. Teuwisse. Classes in the new school began in 1928.
On May 1, 1942, additional land for the cemetery was deeded to the parish by Anton and Albina Frolik. In 1993, additional land for the cemetery was obtained by trading land south of the parish for land adjoining the cemetery.
In May 1962, Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council in Rome, bringing a new era of renewal to the Church. English replaced Latin as the language of the liturgy, resulting in active participation of all the people in the liturgy, resulting in active participation of all the people in the liturgy. In 1964, Fr. John Kauer received permission to celebrate Mass facing the people. The Eucharistic fast was gradually eased to its present discipline; ecumenism, cooperation with congregation of other traditions with the goal of Christian unity became standard practice; all of the rites of the sacraments were revised, including celebrating most of them within the Mass; People received Holy Communion standing and the communion rail was removed, and the choir now leads the congregational singing from the main floor.
In 1976, Our Lady of Lourdes delebrated its centennial from June to December under the pastorship of Fr. James Kraker.
In 1979, a major renovation of parish facilities began. A foyer connecting the rectory and chuch was built. The confessional on the north side of the church was removed and made into a shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Sacristy was made into the Eucharistic chapel. The original pews were sent to Manitowoc for repair, stripping and varnishing; the stained glass windows were repaired and re-leaded, and a new altar and baptismal font were built of stone from the Joseph Willger farm. Total cost — $130,000. In 1981, the new addition and renovation were dedicated by a son of the parish, Abbot Sylvester Michael Killeen, O. Praem. The youth group constructed the grotto east of the new entry in 1981 under the direction of Jim and Marybell Lenz. In 1999, the parishioners built a new garage. In 2000 a renovation of the basement was completed, and an elevator in the foyer was installed.
In 2000, the parish became a site of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a spiritual source of fidelity and renewal for the parish and sister parishes in its cluster, the diocese, and the church.
The church, built in 1904, still stands. It is a monument to the strong faith and great perseverance of the early settlers and those succeeding them. It is a fitting memorial to all the dedicated priests and sisters who nurtured this faith and gave of their talents, spirituality, an even their lives to the building of a strong, united Catholic community known as Our Lady of Lourdes Dobie.
Researched and written by Martha Mullen, 2001