About the Parish
WELCOME to St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. With over one hundred and twenty-five years of tradition, filled with generous, dedicated and faithful people, St. Francis de Sales Parish strives to live out our Baptismal commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ by word and example of Christian living.
Rooted in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we gather as a faith community to worship God and to celebrate the sacraments. Through these celebrations we are strengthened in our resolve to draw our parish community together in prayer, provide quality Catholic education and formation for all parishioners, extend hospitality to all, and inspire stewardship, service and evangelization.
For over one hundred and twenty-five years St. Francis de Sales Parish has maintained the highest quality elementary school as part of our mission. Our motto is: Education for life, Faith for living. Our wonderful school exists for the purpose of forming the whole person in a God-centered educational community. It involves a family "partnership" of parents, teachers, support staff, pastor and parish community. We are committed to forming each student into the image of Jesus Christ by developing his/her spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual gifts. We are currently enrolling in Pre-K (3 and 4 year olds) through 8th grade.
Our parish also includes the Mission of Divine Infant of Prague in Gulliver. Since 1964 the mission church in Gulliver has been a wonderful addition to the parish of St. Francis de Sales. It is truly a welcoming faith community and an important part of our parish.
Parish History The present Manistique congregation of St. Francis de Sales is the result of fruitful labors and faithful efforts dating back more than 125 years. But the beginning of Catholicism in the region goes back an additional 50 years when Father Frederic Baraga established his first Indian mission nearby at Indian Lake. As the settlement of Manistique grew, the people banded together and the church grew stronger. A rectory, convent and parish school were all added and the community supported many missions in the region.
Founding. In 1833 Father Frederic Baraga first visited Indian Lake, three miles north of Manistique. As a result of his visit, the Chippewas living at the site are reported to have built a small chapel of logs and birch bark almost overnight. Father Baraga visited the mission three times, baptizing the people and blessing the church and cemetery. Activity at the Indian Lake Mission declined until there was no sign of its ever having existed. Afterward, Catholics in the area were visited only occasionally by priests from Garden. Mass was offered in private homes and the town hall until 1883 when Father Theodore Aloysius Majerus was named the first pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish. The first church was raised the following year. An exhaustive list of pastors in the first 25 years led to a slow start for the parish. Nonetheless a rectory, convent and parish school were built. The parish also supported the missions of Gould City, Naubinway and all the stations on the Soo Line from Manistique to Trout Lake.
Finally in 1908, a new era was ushered in with the arrival of Father Bernard J. Schevers, O.P. A member of the Norbertine Fathers of West DePere, Wis., Father Schevers remained at St. Francis until his death in May 1950. As the small village grew to a modern city, the church was enlarged twice to meet the needs of the increasing population. In the years leading up to Father Schevers’ death the parish managed to save a large sum of money, about $93,000, for future building projects. Under Father Schevers’ successor, diocesan priest Father Francis Scheringer, the school and convent were modernized and plans drawn up for a new church and rectory. On the morning of April 29, 1953, a basement fire inside St. Francis de Sales Church caused extensive damage rendering the facility unsafe for use. The flames did not get inside the church auditorium, and vestments and sacred vessels were removed. The rectory was unscathed by the blaze. The fire expedited plans already in the works for a new church on the original site. During construction, services were held in the Oak Theater and the school hall.
Parish Life. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new church were held in June 1953. A time capsule containing current church memorabilia was placed in the cornerstone when it was blessed in August of that year. The modern Tudor-Gothic style structure was completed in 1954 and dedicated on June 15. Father Scheringer also oversaw construction of a mission church in Gulliver in 1958. Just a few years later, in 1962, a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary was erected at Indian Lake to mark Bishop Baraga’s former mission site. A Michigan Historical Marker has also been erected. In 1984 the parish celebrated its 100th anniversary. An anniversary booklet was printed to coincide with the centennial.
Parish School. In 1900 Father Joseph P. Kunes converted the former parish hall into a six-room school. The move was in answer to parishioners’ pleas for a Catholic education for their children. In 1902 the first teachers arrived, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity from Manitowoc, Wis. At first, means were only available to teach the lower grades. In 1907 classes for the upper grades began. In 1914 Father Schevers built a two-story building on Oak and Maple streets. The facility served the school for 51 years. A convent was constructed in 1923. The school was modernized with construction of a new complex in 1966. The structure consists of eight classrooms, a library, kitchen, conference room and multi-purpose room. On June 4, 1977 the school celebrated its 75th anniversary. The last of the Franciscans serving the school left after the 2003-2004 school year.
Pastors. Fathers Theodore Aloysius Majerus, 1883-1885; Augustus W. Geers, 1885-1886; John Chebul, 1886-1887; Joseph Haus, 1888; Melchior Faust, 1888; John Burns, 1889; Philip J. Erlach 1889-1890, A. O. Pelisson, 1890; Fabian Pawlar, 1890-1892; Antoine Rezek, 1892; John Henn, 1892; Frederic Sperlin, 1892-1893; Joseph Wallace, 1893-1894; John H. Reynaert, 1895-1898; Joseph P. Kunes, 1898-1904; William B. Stahl, 1904-1905; James Corcoran, 1905-1908; Bernard J. Schevers, OP, 1908-1950; Francis M. Scheringer, 1950-1973; Norbert Frieburger, 1973-1979; James Menapace, 1979-1996; co-pastor C. Michael Rhoades, 1981-1982; George C. Gustafson, 1996-1998; Peter Minelli, 1998-2002, Glenn Theoret, 2002-2014, and Benedetto Paris, 2014 - .