Mary, Mother of the Church is a thriving, active Catholic parish family located in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the United States. We are over 3000 people coming together to engage in worship, education, service, and social programs. With over 1000 registered households, we are the largest Catholic parish in the city of La Crosse. Our parish mission statement is this:
Mary, Mother of the Church parishioners are called to be the People of God, formed by the Holy Word and nourished by the Holy Eucharist. We joyfully share our faith and gifts of time, talent, and treasure. We are committed to serve all God's people in the building of the Kingdom.
The parish of St. Thomas More branched from Holy Trinity parish in 1946 in response to tremendous post-war growth on the south side of La Crosse. The first pastor was Fr. Joseph M. Wagner. Construction began with St. Thomas More School, which opened in September 1948. The building where we worship today, dedicated in 1961 as St. Thomas More Church, continues to carry that name.
St. Pius X parish branched from St. Thomas More parish in June 1960; the first pastor was Fr. Francis McCaffrey. Initially the parish worshipped in the Christ the King Chapel at the Diocesan Center. St. Pius X School, at the intersection of Mormon Coulee Road and Broadview Place, was dedicated in May 1962, and the parish began to worship on the lower level of that building. After the Diocesan Seminary closed, St. Pius X parishioners voted in 1973 to sell the Mormon Coulee building and move the school into one wing of the La Crosse Diocesan Center. We thank Donna Omernik for preparing a history of St. Pius X Parish (PDF).
Mary, Mother of the Church Parish was formed in 2000 with the reunification of
St. Thomas More and St. Pius X. Recalling the first Catholic church built
in La Crosse—St. Mary's, or more formally, The Church of the Immaculate
Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary—Bishop Raymond Burke declared that La
Crosse should once again include a parish named in devotion to Mary.
Our parish marks its Patronal Feast Day on the Monday after Pentecost.
MMOC observed a Jubilee Year in 2007 with the theme of "Rest, Repair, Rejoice."
In 2011, structural problems in St. Thomas More School were discovered and the building was deemed unsafe for occupancy. After wide consultation and prayerful reflection, our pastoral council made the painful decision to close St. Thomas More School. For several years, Religious Education classes for grades K-8 took place at Holy Trinity and we were without a parish social hall. In November 2014, the "Building Our Future Together" Commission was formed to make a strategic plan about our building needs. (You can read a chronology of events in our parish history from 1945 to the formation of the commission.) By God's grace and the sacrificial giving of so many in our parish, today we have a finished Parish Hall and our K-8 students again have class in our own Religious Education Center.
A history of our pastors and religious is on our Legacy of Faith page.
For the occasion of our Patronal Feast Day in 2003, Therese van Oss composed "You
Are the Highest" with accompaniment by Chuck Chihak. The video at right is of
the St. Mary's Singers performing "You Are the Highest" at Mass on November 16,
2008. The lyrics are from Judith 12: 18-19.
Men and Women of the Year
Each year at the celebration of our patronal feast, it is our tradition to name a Woman of the Year and Man of the Year. Plaques bearing these names hang in the gathering space of our church.
|2000||Alice Kempton||Everett Kuhn|
|2001||Alys Kerrigan and Shirley Wenzel||Brad Sturm|
|2002||Carol Breidel||Henry Becker|
|2004||Mary Lou Larkin||Rich Larkin|
|2005||Pat Darling||Jack Darling|
|2006||Mary Schaub||Ken Martin|
|2007||Virginia Horstman||Norm Suhr|
|2008||Sr. Kathy Stuttgen, FSPA||Tom Thibodeau|
|2009||Linda Gillette||Joseph van Oss|
|2010||Germaine Klouda||Mike Marco|
|2011||Maureen Monk||Fred Monk|
|2012||Therese van Oss||Mike Pederson|
|2013||Judy Roraff||Dave Wagner|
|2014||Lu Ann Miller||Dn. Richard Sage|
|2015||Betty Brendel||Bill Brendel|
|2016||Linda Elsen||Howard Olson|
|2017||Betty Stoll||Wally Stoll|
|2018||Paula Heiderscheit||Charles Heiderscheit|
|2019||Donna Omernik||Bob Flottmeyer|
|2020||Mary Jo Lium||Joseph van Oss|
Thanks to Fr. Douglas C. Robertson for information used in this page. Further information about the history of Catholicism in the La Crosse area is available at La Crosse History Unbound, a project of the La Crosse Public Library and UWL's Murphy Library.
Updated 31 May 2020