Be you also as living stones
built up, a spiritual house, a
holy priesthood, to offer up
spiritual sacrifices, acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ.
THE FIRST LETTER OF PETER 2:5
Father Steve Smith
The History of Our Parish
In 1958 the Diocese of Madison bought fifteen acres of land from Robert M. Eighmy for $12,000. At that time the beltline was mainly a rural two-lane highway and the Village of McFarland was miles from the Village of Monona. The 1960 U.S. census listed the population of McFarland as 1,272. The purchase of the land was an investment in the future.
In the 1960’s, Catholic residents of McFarland began to petition Bishop William P. O’Connor to establish a new parish. On Sunday, June 25, 1967, 350 people attended a field Mass on the diocesan property with Father August Buenzli of St. Pius X Parish in Cambridge as the presider. The next month a report was sent to the bishop that stated 144 Catholic families (which included 352 children) now lived in and around McFarland. At that time they belonged to ten different area Catholic parishes.
On July 7, 1970, Christ the King Parish was incorporated as a parish and became a mission parish to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Monona. Monsignor Edward Bier, pastor of Immaculate Heart, also became pastor of Christ the King mission parish. Charles Mulcahy and Joseph Wergin were elected the first trustees. The first parish council consisted of Don Breitenbach (president), Mike Karls (vice president), Eugene Cheramy (secretary), Eugene Holzman (treasurer), Kay Busse, Joe Hogan, Russell Jenkins, Carol Kampmeier, Chuck Mulcahy, Patrick Pflieger, and Earl Stammen. Messrs. Breitenbach, Holzmann and Mulcahy and Kay (Busse) Strauman are still members of this parish today.
Parishioners soon received a letter telling them that the parish had a debt to the diocese of $17,168 (which included the cost of the land and other expenses borne by the diocese) and would pay Immaculate Heart $15,000 per year for “all the services that are rendered.” One hundred and four families pledged $9,185. Sunday Mass was celebrated in the village hall. Immaculate Heart of Mary Associate Pastor Fr. Tom Vickerman presided at many Masses.
On June 25, 1972, in Brandt Park, the parish held its first parish picnic with brats, wieners, potato chips and beverages. Religious education classes were held in the McFarland Lutheran Education Center, at McFarland High School, and in parish homes. Meetings were held in the meeting room of the old McFarland State Bank on Main Street. For the 1971-72 fiscal year, 81 families gave $13,677.29. Expenses for the same year were $14,989.
On August 18, 1972, Pallottine Father Marc LaJoie was appointed administrator of the parish. The Pallottine Order then staffed the old Queen of Apostles High School that once stood on Cottage Grove Road just east of I-90. He served for two years as parish administrator. With Father LaJoie’s appointment, Christ the King separated from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and became an independent parish.
The parish continued to plan for the construction of a parish center and church. By February 1973 the building fund totaled $10,000, but was well short of the half of construction costs that the diocese directed must be collected before construction could begin. On March 19, 1973, a building campaign was launched: $4,5000 was soon collected. The diocese advised the parish that building could not begin until a permanent pastor was appointed for the parish and that the church must be built large enough for future growth.
On June 18, 1974, Fr. Arthur Koth was appointed the first resident pastor of Christ the King Parish. He remained pastor for 26 years. On July 23, 1974, the parish bought its first building at a sheriff’s auction. This was the parish house at 5211 Timber Lane that still serves as the pastor’s residence.
With a new pastor in place, sufficient money was soon pledged and the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new church and parish center were held on July 6, 1975. Masses were first celebrated in the new church on February 21-22, 1976. In 1985 the parish hall doubled in size and additional meeting rooms and office space were added. In 1996 the parish remodeled and enlarged the church, constructed the present parish offices, and added additional classrooms as well as the St. Joachim and St. Ann meeting rooms.
Our Long-Range and Strategic Planning Committee continues to plan for potential future expansion as our parish and area continue to grow.