St. Mary Marion

After 1880, the rapid growth in Marion's population bought immigrants from throughout Europe as well as other parts of the United States. The coming of the railroad enabled area Catholics to obtain religious services in Clintonville, but by 1887, Marion residents began working toward the creation of a local parish, This effort, commenced with the purchase of land on which to build a new church. The land, located on Block 14, Lots 8 and 9, of McDonald and Ramsdell Addition, was purchased for $100 on September 1, 1887. Prior to the completion of a new church, Father Nicholas Belle and his new parishioners celebrated Mass in Marion for the first time. The service was held in the living room of the Lawrence Milbauer home, above his blacksmith shop, in 1888.


Following the purchase of the land, area families combined their efforts to construct a new church. Joseph and Augustus Bazile, Thomas Ball, and Bernard Lacy dug the foundation. The Hofman brothers (George, Frank, Eugene and John), local wagon makers and carpenters, provided carpentry skills. James Sheen, a tombstone maker from Hunting, was the stone-cutter, and area families donated materials and time on work bees. The church building measured 30’ by 50’, and was completed and dedicated in the summer of 1889.

The first parishioners of the new church included the families of: Thomas Ball, Lawrence Milbauer, August Bazile, Bernard A. Meyer, Joseph Huettner, George Hofman, Celestin Bazile, Pierre Emperour, Joseph Chevalier, John Mauel, Jacob Matheisel, Frnka Mauel, Joseph Bazile, Louis Fournier, Frank Hofman, Joseph Hofman, Jacob Bazile, Julius Gruentzel, John Korf, Archibald Shannon, and Herman Schreiber. Many of their descendents are still members of St. Mary’s today.


Father Belle came to Marion twice a month to celebrate Mass. Usually on the second Saturday and again on a specified Sunday of the month. The Saturday Mass was considered the service at which women would receive communion while the Sunday Mass was the time for men to receive communion.

Several improvements were made in the church over the next few years. The materials to make the pews were provided by Frank Mauel. He cut several pine trees from the pine forest in what is now the Marion Athletic Field. George Hofman obtained an altar from a parish in Washington County to replace the wooden box previously used. In 1899, when the congregation raised the necessary $83.00, the bell for the church was purchased. The bell was installed on May 3, 1899. William J. Hofman rang the for the first time. He was the Mass server that day. The original bell still rings over the new St. Mary’s.

The church, as well as most of the contents in it, served the Catholic community of the area until 1960, when a new church was constructed along Highway 45. Fr. James Jacobs arrived in Marion on Sept 10, 1956, and with the help of his brother Roger Jacobs, they designed and built the new church.

 In September 1966, Fr. Jacobs was transferred to Lena, WI ending his 10-year term as our only resident pastor.

 In 2006 a shrine to St. Peregrine was constructed on the northeast side of the church, open to visitors daily.

 In 2010 a carport entrance, gathering space, upstairs bathroom and elevator were added.

 Today, St. Mary is linked with two other parishes: St. Anthony of Tigerton and Holy Family-St. William of Wittenberg. The Three Parish Family is currently served by Fr. Matt Settle.