Thursday, August 21, 2014
Historical Timeline PDF Print Email


  • First Mass said in Watertown and St. Bernard’s Congregation organized.


  • First church edifice in Watertown, St. Bernard’s erected. Founding parishioners were mostly Irish and Yankee.


  • St. Bernard’s acquires resident pastor and becomes officially a parish.

Late 1840’s

  • First rectory was built, adjacent to church.


  • Strong growth of parish requires addition to church.


  • St. Bernard’s opens its first school house.


  • Balconies are installed at sides and rear of church. Pews replace benches. Steeple is added, with gilded cross on top.


  • Holy Cross Fathers come to St. Bernard’s.


  • Construction of St. Bernard’s Church begins. The cornerstone comes from the Rock of Cashel in Ireland.


  • Dedication of St. Bernard’s Church.


  • Rectory is built.


  • Old School building is erected.


  • St. Bernard’s Cemetery Association formed.


  • St. Bernard’s reverts to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.


  • St. Bernard’s is returned to the care of the Holy Cross Fathers.


  • Centennial of the Parish is celebrated. History written by Father Meagher.


  • Rectory purchased from the Soliday family.


  • New school building erected.


  • First Parish Advisory Board created, consisting of Pastor, Asst. Pastor, two lay trustees and ten lay members of the Parish.


  • St. Bernard’s School drops 7th and 8th grades.
  • Modern Summerfest programs begin.


  • School debt retired.
  • Extraordinary Ministers of Eucharist established.


  • Centennial celebration of the laying of the cornerstone of St. Bernard’s.
  • First professional full-time Religious Education Director is hired.


  • Exterior cleaning and restoration of the Church is done.
  • Steeple fire causes sensation in Watertown.
  • Bingo begins on a regular basis.


  • Church grounds are landscaped.
  • Confirmation for high school juniors begins.


  • Renovation of back chapel.
  • Implementation of the “Common Policy for Pastoral Marriage Preparation”.


  • St. Bernard’s has first lay principal.
  • Organ at St. Bernard’s is rebuilt and dedicated.


  • St. Bernard’s Church is redecorated and liturgically updated.


  • Front deck, steps and stone wall of Church are replaced.
  • St. Bernard’s School opens Kindergarten.


  • Jeff Allen becomes the school’s first lay male principal.


  • The new parish garage is built.
  • School hosts first Forensics Night


  • Holy Cross Fathers announce withdrawal from St. Bernard’s in June, 1985.
  • Board of Education issues a new mission statement, “That We Might Hope”.
  • Fall “Turkey Club” is started.
  • Parish Halloween Dance is a hit.


  • A new Parish Council Constitution and By-laws are adopted.
  • First Parish Pictorial Directory is planned.
  • Diocesan priest, Father Thomas Marr, assigned as Pastor of St. Bernard’s by Bishop Cletus O’Donnell.
  • Roof of new school is replaced.


  • Rectory renovated, becomes convent for sisters.
  • Convent becomes Parish Center / Rectory.
  • Parish Board begins work on establishing a parish “Vision” of the future.
  • R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation) is instituted.


  • Restoration of church’s stained glass windows begins.
  • New sound system is installed in Church.
  • Gym roof replaced.


  • Exterior of church tuck-pointed, caulked and sealed.
  • Second floor of Parish Center renovated into apartment for Pastor.


  • Parish Board restructured into Parish Council with emphasis on pastoral concerns and decisions made by consensus.
  • St. Bernard’s School among first in Diocese to undertake Self Study Accreditation Program.
  • First St. Patrick’s Day Auction and Raffle.
  • Watertown Little Rock Scripture Program is started.
  • Old parking lot replaced.


  • Renovation of Activity Room, Nursery Rooms and Scout Rooms in old school.
  • Establishment of “Extended Care” Program.
  • Renovation of first floor Parish Center offices and meeting rooms.
  • Plans started for Parish Sesquicentennial.
  • St. Bernard’s Congregation Educational Endowment Foundation, Inc., becomes a reality.
  • St. Bernard’s second Pictorial Directory is published.


  • Bishop Cletus O’Donnell passes away after serving as the second Bishop of Madison for 25 years.
  • St. Bernard’s Cecilian Choir (under the leadership of Cliff Lueck, director and Erma Large, organist) celebrate 100th Anniversary.
  • Sr. Virginia Brunner S.S.S.F. celebrates 50th Jubilee as member of the School Sisters of St. Francis.
  • St. Bernard’s Parish begins year long celebration of its 150th anniversary.


  • St. Bernard’s concludes many Sesquicentennial events with special Mass and reception. Bishop George Wirz presides.
  • Bishop William H. Bullock becomes 3rd Bishop of Diocese of Madison.
  • Charles Wallman’s wonderful history of St. Bernard’s Parish “Built on Irish Faith” is published.
  • St. Bernard’s is one of the first 25 schools statewide to be fully accredited by the Wisconsin nonpublic School Accrediting Association (WNSAA).


  • Five Small Church Communities formed at St. Bernard’s with about 40 people involved.


  • St. Bernard’s School established Preschool Program.
  • Name of deceased members remembered in “Book of Life”, placed in vestibule of church.
  • Mary McFarland retires as Coordinator of Religious Education Preschool-5th grade and Nancy DeCono assumes position of C.R.E.
  • Connie Koopmans becomes C.R. E. for grades 6-132 and Director of Youth Ministry.
  • Fr. Thomas Marr celebrates 25th Jubilee of Ordination to the Priesthood.


  • Diocese of Madison celebrates 50th Jubilee with year-long schedule of events.
  • Capitol Fund Drive undertaken to replace church / school boiler and other necessary renovation projects on church and school buildings. Projects include: new school lighting, repair of church steeple, tuck-pointing and sealing of church exterior, painting of interior church walls.


  • Broken water pipe in Rectory / Parish Center necessitates major clean-up and repair project.
  • 10,000 gallon oil tank removed from ground next to church.
  • Final stage of stained glass window restoration (last 16 windows) in church is done.
  • Boiler replacement project is done.
  • Parish’s third pictorial directory is published.
  • School parades downtown for St. Patrick’s Day


  • Tuck-point east front of church.
  • Repair gutters on church.
  • Caryl Getchell is added as full time Director of Religious Education
  • Rebecca Whelpley is hired as full time Music Minister.
  • Elementary Aide added to faculty of school.


  • Restoration of rectory front porch and car port.
  • Charles Wallman selected first Grand Marshall for School’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade
  • Complete second Self Study Accreditation.


  • New flat roof on school.
  • New roof on entry to chapel.
  • Restoration of church stained glass windows completed.
  • Landscaping of grounds
  • New boiler in Rector
  • Charles Hagen is St. Patrick’s Day Parade
  • Education Specialist added to faculty of school.
  • All classrooms fitted with wall mounted TV’s and Video recorders.


  • Electrical upgrade in old school
  • Electrical and internet upgrade in Computer Room.
  • New sound system in church completed.
  • Restoration of rectory
  • Church windows on north and west and side and front doors painted.
  • New hardware on church doors.
  • Joe Darcey is St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall
  • School computers networked with copier.
  • Installed exhaust fans in boys and girls wash rooms in old school.
  • Installed TV cameras in school for security.


  • Painted convent side porch and west addition.
  • Completion of recovered murals in church.
  • Began receiving school lunches from St. Henry’s.
  • Installed Pottery kiln for Art classes.
  • Joe Meyers is St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall


  • Painted arches in church.
  • Installed sink in Preschool.
  • Sealed playground / parking lot.
  • Tuck-pointed church stairs.
  • Added School Counselor to staff of school.
  • Added 3 year old Preschool to St. Bernard’s.
  • Clarence and Mary Mess are Grand Marshalls for St. Patrick’s Day Parade


  • Remodeled school office areas.
  • Remodeled boys and girls bathrooms in new school building.
  • Wall of Saints with fountain dedicated.
  • Lisa Kleinschmidt is St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall


  • Added lighting, storage and painted Extended Care Rooms.
  • Bill Ehlinger & Steve Schleicher are Grand Marshalls for St. Patrick’s Day Parade
  • St. Henry and St. Bernard’s Joint Mission
  • Sr. Virginia Brunner retires and leaves St. Bernard’s.
  • School Computer lab dedicated to Marge Reichardt for her donation.
  • Parish hires Groth Design Group to complete Needs Assessment Study.
  • Basketball backboards attached to outside Gym wall.
  • Parish hires Al Reinhard as Business Administrator & Adult Ed Coordinator


  • 3rd Accreditation for School
  • Bill Connor is St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall
  • Purchased brick house (203 South Montgomery)
  • Change in classroom location
  • Divided Art and Music Room and moved Music to lower level
  • Added lockers for 2nd grade
  • 6th grade eliminated


  • Added session of 4K for W.U.S.D.
  • Converted classroom to 4K/3 year olds
  • Sister Virginia Brunner is St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall
  • Added security system to day care
  • Shrove Tuesday School Pancake Races and Parish Pancake Dinner/Talent Show Tradition begins
  • New tables and chairs for gym
  • Purchased wood frame house on Emmet St.
  • Corpus Christi procession with St. Henry’s (now yearly event)


  • Installed new gym ceiling
  • Brian Wolhaupter is St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall
  • Painted south windows of church outside
  • Installed new boiler controls


  • Smart Board Technology added to school program
  • Painted north windows outside church
  • Cathy Egan is St. Patrick’s Day Grand Marshall
  • Fr. Tom goes on Administrative leave
  • Fr. Brian helps out until the end of the year
  • Lou Warpinski hired as full time Parish Accountant


  • Monsignor Daniel Ganshert becomes pastor
  • School adds 3rd 4K Session
  • Facility Engineering, Inc. completes church roofing and spire assessment
  • Monsignor Ganshert is St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshall
  • Monsignor Ganshert moves to 110 S. Church St.
  • Terese Markl becomes Pastoral Associate
  • Remodeling at Parish Center; kitchen removed and office added
  • Michele McFarland becomes co-Religious Education Coordinator with Monsignor Ganshert
  • St. Bernard’s and St. Henry’s hold joint Parish Mission in November.
  • “Aspire” campaign begins with goal to replace the church roof and repair steeple.
  • Parish pictorial directory is published.


  • “Aspire” Kickoff & Victory Dinners held in gym (Over 1.6 million dollars pledged.)
  • Work begins on church roof and copper shingles added to steeple.
  •  Fr. Jorge Miramontes arrives and will serve both Watertown Catholic parishes with Monsignor Ganshert


  • Sharon Darcey selected as grand marshal off St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
  • Successful Parish Auction raises money for new roof for historic old school building.

(Updated 05/06/13)


Parish Office

114 S. Church St
Watertown, WI 53094
Phone: 920-261-5133

School Office

111 S. Montgomery St.
Watertown, WI 53094
Phone: 920-261-7204