History

//History
History 2018-03-16T18:49:19+00:00

It all began on a cold and windy day back in December of 1950.  Four hundred dedicated people attended the ground breaking ceremony.  The most Reverend Moses E Kiley, Archbishop of Milwaukee, turned the first shovel full of dirt with a silver spade and spoke briefly on the need of Christian education.

“All our labors will be in vain unless we are building for the Lord.  We can hope to benefit only in a project that is built from the interests of preaching of the word of God.  I am very pleased and grateful to the people of Holy Family Parish in the undertaking of a project of this kind.”  (Whitefish Bay Herald, December 7, 1950)  With these moving words, he gave the project his blessing.

February 1952 brought joyful news—The Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wisconsin were engaged to staff Holy Family School.  At this same time, the first temporary registration for the school was received.  Formal registration of students was held on Sunday, August 30, 1953, after all of the Masses.  The number of registered pupils far surpassed the total Father Wollet, Pastor of Holy Family, had anticipated.

On Wednesday, September 9th, 1953 the school opened with 272 students enrolled in grades one through six.  A High Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit was offered by Pastor Wollet. The Sisters, assigned to convent quarters in a section of the new school building were Sister Marinita Navin, Vicaress, principal and teacher of grade six; Sister Keverne (Kathleen) Ashe, grade five; Sister Eamon (Therese) O’Donnell, grade two; Sister Josette Pahl, grades one and two; and Sister Robert Mary Wilkie, grade one.  Lay teachers were employed for grades three and four.

Enrollment grew rapidly, reaching 599 students in 1959 and continued growing to 643 in 1964.  Additional Sisters were assigned throughout the 1950’s, reaching eleven, when the sisters moved into their new convent in 1960.  The number of lay teachers at that time stood at six.

Over the years, Holy Family Parish School has seen many changes.  Even though there are no longer Sisters teaching in any of the classrooms, HFPS have dedicated teachers with a combined 228 years of teaching at Holy Family Parish School.  HFPS teaches grades K4 through 8th grade, and technology has become an integral part of each classroom.

Amid all the changes, there is one thing has stayed the same through the years.  Holy Family Parish School is still “Alive in Faith”.  Holy Family proclaims its value in its solid spiritual foundation as students grow in their faith.  The teachings of Jesus are still infused in every subject and extra-curricular activity, and the students continue to live as Jesus did.

See the links below for Holy Family’s Spotlight on Successes, which provide insight on some of our most beloved traditions.

The holidays are all about tradition: from baking cookies, to singing carols, to attending Christmas Eve Mass.  And for many of us at Holy Family, the annual Holy Family Christmas tree sale makes that list.  This year we celebrate the 13th annual Holy Family Christmas tree sale!

It all started with past HF parent, Glen Cahala.  Glen’s grandfather, Glen Sr., owned a farm up north in Pelican Lake, Wisconsin that had been in his family’s name for 5 generations.  Each year they would harvest 75-100 trees during Thanksgiving weekend.   The process was more about family than work or a chore.

With the untimely death of his grandfather in 2001, the issue of the tree farm and what to do with the Christmas trees needed to be addressed.  No one in the family had the time to commit to a retail selling operation during the Christmas season. At the time Glen was serving on the Holy Family School Board. It seemed to be a natural fit, that the trees could be used for a fundraiser for HFPS.

As with any new fundraiser, there were some concerns since there is no guarantee of success. With the help of Holy Family parent, Karen Reddin, the Cahala family set out on a new HF fundraising effort. The tree sale was supported by room parents getting weekend volunteers to help sell and load the trees, which were originally sold off the back of a flatbed trailer in the school parking lot. At the end of the day, the trees would be loaded up and the trailer would be parked in the Cahala’s driveway for the week, until the following weekend’s sale.  The sale was an absolute success and the trees were sold out within the first 2 weekends. Additional tree cuts had to be made to bring more trees down for the next weekend’s sale.

“I can remember pulling into the HF parking lot with a load of trees to a cheering crowd of volunteers and waiting customers.  The trees were sold as fast as they were unloaded.” said Cahala.

Within the first year of the sale, it was quickly learned that the Cahala property would not be able to support the demand of the HFP Christmas tree fundraiser, so other local Northern Wisconsin growers were found to help close the gap.  Today about 75% of the trees are supplied by other growers. The tree sale was able to gain access to the play area in the parking lot, so no more parking the tree trailer in the driveway at home.  A new tradition was born!  A semi-trailer loaded with as many as 500 trees and 150 wreaths arrives in the late afternoon the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  It is met by 20-30 volunteers in the HFP parking lot in the dark who perform the amazing feat of unloading this enormous trailer within 30 minutes.   At its height, the tree sale sold over 500 trees annually, with a net profit between $7,000 and $11, 000 each year.

“It’s really a great fundraiser and our family has enjoyed our participation in this parish supported effort.” said Cahala. “The tree sale itself is not about the Cahalas or even the trees, but about the sense of community and the efforts of all those who individually give of their time and talent and money. I have always said that this fund raising effort was about the parents and classroom leaders who volunteer a 4 hour block of time to haul, load, cut and sell the trees. Countless people return every year not just to buy a tree, but to experience a sense of community, fun, and ownership for a very good cause with and for Holy Family Parish.”

The Cahala family was actively involved in the tree sales and operations until 2012, which is when their youngest of four children (Nicholas) graduated from HFPS. The task of the sales and operations was assumed by a fantastic, energetic volunteer, Jackson Mansfield.  Jackson and his wife, Heather, have 3 daughters currently at Holy Family School.  Jackson proudly calls himself the CFO of the Christmas Tree Operations.

“Jackson is someone who is actively engaged in the school with children in multiple grades and can coordinate the efforts of many into a result for all. I believe he is doing a great job!” says Cahala.

The HF trees sale is about the community, the volunteers, and the customers. It is an event like so many other fundraisers that takes everyone to be successful.   The Christmas tree sale is open weekends starting with the weekend after Thanksgiving and runs through the month of December.

It’s that time of year again – to grab those clubs and hit the greens!  Friday, September 5, 2014 will mark the 20th Holy Family Fr. Tom Kerstein Memorial Golf Outing.  Over the past 20 years, golfers of all abilities have come together to share lots of laughs, raise money to help the parish and school, and maybe make a few bogeys.

In 1994, a group of school parents who loved to golf, decided a golf outing would be a great and fun way to raise some “seed” money for the auction dinner dance event.  The first golf outing raised just under $2,100, with 44 golfers participating.  Over the years, the golf outing has grown in leaps and bounds.  Last year the event had 112 golfers and raised $26,000!  Its success is due in part to the help of the many chairs who have run the event: Terry Flanagan (the original golf chair), Pat Koppa, Amy Westrup and our current chair, Katie Corcoran. Thanks to them we can continue to have this amazing event!

“I offered to help because I enjoy golf and I found the outing to be an absolutely wonderful FELLOWSHIP event for the parish, so I thought I’d commit my volunteer energy there.  On top of that, Terry, Gary Nolan, Paul Sklba, and Steve Lancelle were all really good guys and I enjoyed working with them…and I’ve been involved with the outing ever since.” says Pat Koppa, who chaired the golf outing from 2002-2007.

Originally the golf outing was just named the Holy Family Golf Outing. It became the Fr. Tom Kerstein Memorial Golf Outing when Fr. Kerstein died unexpectedly in March 1998.  Because Fr. Kerstein loved to golf, this was a perfect way to remember him.

Fr. Tom Kerstein was pastor at Holy Family Church from 1985 until 1997, when he left Holy Family to assume the role of Vicar of Clergy for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  During his time at Holy Family, he oversaw the total renovation of the convent into parish offices and meeting facilities.  The center was renamed The Kerstein Center in his honor.

With his name on the parish offices and the golf outing we hold annually, Fr.  Kerstein will always be part of our community.  At his farewell banquet held in 1997, he spoke these simple words of gratitude, “You are my family.”  And today, he still is part of our family.

Join us for the next  Holy Family Fr. Kerstein Memorial Golf Outing on the second Friday in September at the Silver Spring Country Club Golf Course.  You get 18 holes of golf, lunch, complimentary golf swag, golf card, 1 free raffle ticket, free putting contest entry, Hole-In-One try, Individual Award holes, prizes, rooftop dinner reception and the infamous “Don’t Lose the Yellow Ball” challenge.  If you haven’t come before, make this year your year…it’s a blast.  With a 12:30pm Shot Gun Start, plan accordingly!  And if you can’t make it or golf isn’t your thing, don’t miss all the sponsorship opportunities.

“I never pray to God to make a putt. I pray to God to help me react good if I miss a putt.” ~Chi Chi Rodriguez

Each year, 600-800 runners and walkers participate in the 5K run/walk.   Many volunteers help to make this event successful, and many people come just to have fun.  Children are invited to participate in a fun run, and everyone is welcome to the post-run picnic for food and beverages.  These runners, walkers and spectators are coming together for this community event to do much more than attend a run- they are there to celebrate life.

Rob and C’za Helf, parish members and parents of children at Holy Family School, started this amazing community event 9 years ago, to commemorate their son, Peter.  Peter, just under two years old, died in the spring of 2003 in a drowning accident during a family vacation in North Carolina.  “We experienced such a tremendous outpouring of support from the Milwaukee and Holy Family communities (the first year after Peter’s death),” said Rob Helf in the spring of 2004, before the first run.  “As avid runners, C’za and I could think of no better way to honor Peter, who is considered to be our guardian angel, and all those who provided their own special form of guardianship, than to sponsor a run.  This will be a great celebration of life.” And it is a celebration of life.

During the first few years, a mass was held before the race.  One year, the Helf’s daughter, Maria, was baptized at a Mass held before the run.  It was a celebration of life.

For the first years of the run, former runner Jenny Crain, a good friend of the Helf’s, ran and won the race several times.  In 2007, Crain was training for her 4th Olympic Marathon Trials, when she was hit by an automobile.  Crain suffered extensive brain damage, ending her competitive running career.  Crain came back to the Guardian Angel run in 2011 as an honorary guest.  Crain spoke and was a true inspiration to everyone there.  It was a celebration of life.

Each year, people come to support this wonderful community event and to celebrate life, as Peter would want us to do.  Peter truly watches over this race.  The first year, there was stormy weather all weekend.  Monday morning, right before the race, the skies cleared, the rain stopped and the sun shone.  After the celebration, the clouds and storms returned.  Every year since, the weather has been beautiful.  Just one of many signs the Helfs’ receive, letting them know their little boy is safe, happy and watching over them.

Proceeds of the race benefit Holy Family Parish School and a different charity each year.  Past charities have been Agape Community Center and Jenny Crain’s Foundation, Make It Happen.  Come celebrate life!

“This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalms 118:24

Over the years, Holy Family has taken you on many adventures – from the rainforests of Brazil to springtime in Paris.  You have seen it all! This year, you will be California Dreamin’! On Saturday, February 21st, Holy Family will be hosting the 23rd Dinner Dance and Auction at the Italian Community Center (ICC).  You will be taken from the giant trees of the Redwood Forest to the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco.  You will have a chance to get a bottle of wine from the famous Napa Valley and dine like the stars at the Kodak Theater.  The Holy Family Auction has become a tradition for many of us, thanks to a group of school parents who started it 23 years ago.

In the early 1990’s, the school was looking for ways to raise money so that tuition did not have to be substantially raised for the fourth year in a row.  The school held a parent brainstorming meeting and decided to start a development program with a volunteer committee.  Joan Feiereisen was “volunteered” to chair the auction, since she was the Development Director for the school at that time.  The committee set a goal to raise $15,000.

Two major fundraising efforts were suggested:  to start an annual fund and to start an auction.  There were almost no grade schools having auctions at the time, although the high schools were having them.  The goal was to raise $8,000 through the annual fund, $6,000 through the auction, and $1,000 through a new program called Scrip.

The first auction was set for February 1992, since that seemed to be a month when not much was going on.  The theme was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, set in the 1920’s with gangsters and gambling.  The guests dressed up and got their picture taken in front of a big cardboard cutout of a 1920’s roadster.  There was a silent auction, a raffle and casino games, which were held in the school gym and cafeteria.  Instead of a sit down dinner, like there is today, sandwiches were assembled and served by parents, and many attendees brought in delicious snacks and treats to share. The vibe at the auction was that of a community get-together with good friends. The night was a big success and raised over $7,000.  Mary Kowalski, the treasurer, counted all the profits for the night in the girl’s locker room.  That job was later taken over by Chris Steinmetz, who managed the finances for the auction for more than two decades.

Following the casino night, the committee debated at length about taking subsequent events off-campus to increase the potential for profit and to attract non-school parents to the event.  To host the event at the Sheraton in Brown Deer, each ticket would have to be increased to $35.  Following the calming assurances of Joan Feiereisen and, under the leadership of auction chairperson, Barbara Steinmetz, the event was moved.  The move was a success as it significantly increased the attendance, immediately outgrowing that venue, and nearly doubling the profits.  The evening became “fancier” and a title was added – “One Enchanted Evening” –  which was used for quite a few years.

There have been countless numbers of volunteers who make this night possible.  Without their dedication, creativity, and hard work, this event would not be able to happen.  And of course we can’t forget the 35 auction chairs who have stepped forward over the last 23 years to put together this wonderful event.  Some were even willing to do it more than once!

We have come a long way from a $6,000 goal and counting money in the girl’s locker room.  But one thing that has not changed is the community support for this event.

“Who wants a pancake, sweet and piping hot?  Good little Grace looks up and says, ‘I’ll take the one on top.’  Who else wants a pancake, fresh off the griddle?  Terrible Theresa smiles and says, ‘I’ll take the one in the middle.’”- Shel Silverstein.

For over 30 years, Holy Family has been serving piping hot pancakes to the community on a cold morning in the middle of winter.

Carl Manikowski started the Pancake Breakfast over 30 years ago when his kids were in school at Holy Family.  Manikowski was full of creative ideas to help raise money for the church and school.  The Pancake Breakfast was only one of his many successful fundraising ideas and was held once a year in the winter months.  Along aside of him was his wife, Shirley, who continues to run Saturday Hospitality.  The Manikowskis, with the help of friends, ran the Pancake Breakfast for about 5 years.

Shirley recalls that the first Pancake Breakfast didn’t go off without a hitch.  “We got there to set everything up and nothing worked! So we had to call Everett Lau to come over and fix a circuit.  He was over right away and got everything working.”

Holy Family School’s Home and School Association eventually took it over and began hosting it twice a year, once in the fall and again during Catholic School’s Week. The Sunday hours were longer to accommodate church goers which attended the three different Sunday masses which were held at 7:30am, 9:00am and 11:30am.

It has gone back to just once a year and is held on a Sunday morning in February.  A few years ago, the school also started a Used Book Sale which is held in the school cafeteria on that same weekend.

Current parent, Heather Mansfield, has been an “official” pancake flipper for at least 10 years.  “There is definitely a special knack for getting the old griddles in McCormick Hall to be operating at full-speed for the Pancake Breakfast.  My co-flippers and I usually have to go through our “warm-up” pancakes- a few practice rounds so to speak- to get the griddle seasoned and ready to go for the hundreds of pancakes we end up making. It is a great tradition because it’s another parish-wide event that is something everyone looks forward to in the midst of our Wisconsin winter.”

Through the years, different people have stepped up to chair the annual event.  Linda Schulz, current school parent, has been one of the past chairs and says this about her experience:  “The Pancake Breakfast was a fun event to chair.  Hats off to the dedicated volunteers’ hard work that makes this event a success.”

As Schulz found out first hand, those piping hot pancakes bring everyone in.  “A few years back our family attended and sat with someone that was all alone.  We conversed with him to find out that he was a US Congressman!  There was a storm and his flight back to DC was cancelled.  He saw the sign for the Pancake Breakfast and since he was snowed in, thought he would try it.  He enjoyed it very much.”

Schulz sums it up perfectly.  “The Pancake Breakfast is yet another great Holy Family tradition that shows the closeness, kindness and spirit that is the Holy Family way.”