All Saints Parish was established July 1, 2001 with the merger of St. Joseph, St. Stanislaus, and St. Michael Parishes. - The first merger of parishes in the Diocese of Madison. But Catholicism in Berlin dates back over 150 years, and it is here that the history of All Saints begins.
In the early years of settlement, Catholicism arrived in the new territory, of what was to become Berlin, by horseback, ox cart, walking trails or the river. The early settlers of this area were strongly entrenched in their religious beliefs and one of the first things they did, other than building shelter for themselves and their families, was to establish a place of worship.
Around 1848, at the time of the formal establishment of the settlement, ‘Strong’s Landing’, a number of Irish Catholics petitioned Bishop John Martin Henni, head of the newly created Diocese of Milwaukee, for someone to perform the services of their faith in the new settlement. Rev. Father Colten, a missionary priest walked the 26 miles to and from Oshkosh carrying his vestments and Mass supplies in a knapsack. The first recorded formal Catholic service in Berlin was held in 1851 and celebrated in Badger Hall on the corners of Pearl and Huron Streets. – The beginning of St. Joseph Parish.
In the late 1800’s the large influx of Polish settlers caused the creation of a second Catholic parish. One of those immigrants, Albert Hopka, met a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Father Bronislaus Buczynski, who had been assigned the task of ministering to the Polish community settling in the Fox River Valley. Mr. Hopka invited the priest to visit his home in Berlin and celebrate Mass there. The year was 1870 and this is regarded as the beginning of St. Stanislaus Parish.
In 1885, a group of Polish and German Catholics petitioned the Bishop to establish a second Polish parish on the west side of the city, and so a third Catholic parish was established. Bishop Xavier Katzer of the Green Bay Diocese chose the name of St. Michael for this new parish.
As each parish grew, educating its children became a priority and each parish constructed its own school. St. Joseph School was staffed by the Sisters of St. Agnes; St. Stanislaus, the School Sisters of Notre Dame; and St. Michael, the Felician Sisters. In 1979, Catholic education in Berlin reached a milestone. After years of planning, the three Catholic schools consolidated into one school system, known as Berlin Catholic School. It was directed by a Board of Education comprised of members from each of the three parishes. Each parish made a per capita contribution toward school financial needs and classes were divided among the three school buildings. In 1991, it was decided to remodel the school building, convent and chapel at St. Michael’s, and hold all school classes in one combined building. For many years each of the three parishes also provided formal religious education classes for elementary age students who did not attend the Catholic school, and for students in high school. In
1986, following the lead of the Catholic school, the Religious Education programs of each parish were consolidated into one combined program.
As the 20th century came to a close, the Diocese of Madison began the process of developing a Diocesan Strategic Plan to address the challenges facing the Diocese, most particularly the decrease in the number of priests, and the accompanying reduction of priestly services. On July 1, 1998, the three parishes were linked, the first in the Diocese. Father Jerome J. Maksvytis, pastor of St. Stanislaus, answered the call of his Bishop and agreed to serve the entire Catholic community of Berlin at the linked parishes of St. Joseph, St. Stanislaus, and St. Michael. Through a united, yet difficult, and sometimes painful process, the three linked parishes began the work of integrating. On August 24, 1999, after a great deal of prayer, the Berlin Catholic Community petitioned the Diocese of Madison to merge and become one single parish. As a result, on July 1, 2001, All Saints Parish was created to meet the needs of the Berlin Catholic Community. The Most Reverend William H. Bullock, third Bishop of Madison celebrated this event with a votive Mass for All Saints on July 8, 2001. And so at the dawn of the 21st century, approximately 900 Catholic families in Berlin and the surrounding area continue the tradition of building, sustaining, and growing in their Catholic faith, united in the Spirit, as the parish family of All Saints.