Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse

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Diocese of La Crosse
Dioecesis Crossensis
COA - La Crosse, WI.jpg
Country United States
Territory Western Wisconsin (19 counties)
Ecclesiastical province Milwaukee
Area 15,078 sq mi (39,050 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2004)
206,191 (23.5%)
Parishes 160
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established March 3, 1868 (149 years ago)
Cathedral Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman
Patron saint

St. Joseph the Workman (primary)

St. Francis of Assisi (secondary)
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop William P. Callahan, O.F.M. Conv.
Diocese of La Crosse (Wisconsin) map 1.jpg

The Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse (Latin: Dioecesis Crossensis) is a Roman Catholic diocese that covers an area of west-central Wisconsin, United States.

Diocese area[edit]

The diocese includes the city of La Crosse and 19 counties: Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, Richland, Trempealeau, Vernon, and Wood.

The Metropolitan for the diocese is the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The mother church is the Cathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman.


The Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, the cathedral parish of the diocese.

The Diocese of La Crosse was established by Pope Pius IX on March 3, 1868, from territory that was taken from what was then the Diocese of Milwaukee. It included the part of Wisconsin lying north and west of the Wisconsin River. Michael Heiss, then head of St. Francis Seminary, Milwaukee, was named the first bishop of the La Crosse episcopal see.[1]

On May 3, 1905, the territory of the Dioceses of La Crosse and Green Bay was brought together to form the Diocese of Superior, reducing the diocese to the counties of Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, Sauk, Trempealeau, Vernon, and Wood, an area of 17,299 square miles (44,800 km2).

When the diocese was established, there were 22 priests who cared for 23 churches and about 50 stations. Along with the English and German congregations, provisions were also made for Poles and Italians. Franciscan sisters and lay teachers were in charge of six parish schools. During the twelve years of his administration in La Crosse, Heiss built several churches, including the cathedral, and the episcopal residence. On March 14, 1880, he was appointed coadjutor bishop with right of succession to the Archbishop of Milwaukee, and succeeded, September 7, 1881. He died at La Crosse, March 26, 1890.[2]

Kilian Flasch, second bishop, was born at Retzstadt, Bavaria, July 16, 1837, immigrated when he was ten years old, and settled near Milwaukee. He was selected as the successor of Bishop Heiss and consecrated Bishop of La Crosse, August 24, 1881. During his administration of ten years, he worked to increase the churches and the schools of the diocese, dying after a long illness on August 3, 1891.[3]

James Schwebach, his vicar general, succeeded him as the third bishop, and was consecrated, February 25, 1892.[1]

On January 9, 1946, territory from the Dioceses of La Crosse and Green Bay and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was removed to form the Diocese of Madison.[4]

Father Solanus Casey, of the Capuchin religious order, who was declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1995. He was born in Pierce County, Wisconsin, which is part of the Diocese of La Crosse.[5]

In 2006, Bishop Jerome Listecki succeeded Raymond Leo Burke as La Crosse's bishop; Burke became the Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri and later the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court. Burke succeeded Bishop John Joseph Paul in 1994.[6]

On November 14, 2009, the former La Crosse Bishop Jerome Listecki was appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee. He succeeded Archbishop Timothy Dolan who was transferred to New York. Listecki was installed in Milwaukee on January 4, 2010.

The former Milwaukee Auxiliary bishop, William P. Callahan, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, June 11, 2010. He was installed on August 11, 2010.

The diocese today[edit]

Throughout its 19 counties, the diocese has 108 parishes with a resident pastor and 57 others without a resident pastor. There are 177 diocesan priests incardinated in the diocese, while another 15 priests belong to various religious institutes. In December 2012, 32 seminarians were studying to enter the priesthood of the diocese. There are also four religious brothers, 31 permanent deacons, five hermits and three consecrated virgins. 447 religious sisters belong mainly to two large religious institutes: the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in Stevens Point and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse. Other active religious are the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in La Crosse, Capuchins in Marathon, and the Cistercians in Sparta. The Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr St George also have a convent in La Crosse.


The following are lists of the Roman Catholic Bishops and Auxiliary Bishops of the Diocese of La Crosse and their years of service.[7]

Diocesan bishops[edit]

  1. Michael Heiss (1868–1880)
  2. Kilian Caspar Flasch (1881–1891)
  3. James Schwebach (1891–1921)
  4. Alexander Joseph McGavick (1921–1948)
  5. John Patrick Treacy (1948–1964)
  6. Frederick William Freking (1965–1983)
  7. John Joseph Paul (1983–1994)
  8. Raymond Leo Burke (1995–2003)
  9. Jerome Edward Listecki (2004–2010)
  10. William P. Callahan, OFM Conv. (2010–Present)

Auxiliary bishops[edit]

Affiliated bishops[edit]

  • Robert Herman Flock, was ordained a priest for the La Crosse Diocese and later became auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cochabamba, Bolivia[9]
  • George Albert Hammes, was ordained a priest for the La Crosse Diocese and later became Bishop of the Superior, Wisconsin Diocese (1960–1985)[10][11]

Diocesan institutions[edit]

Among the institutions in the Diocese of La Crosse are 10 Catholic-affiliated hospitals; Viterbo University, which enrolls 2,167 students; St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse. The first Mass was held at the Shrine on July 31, 2008. Prairie du Chien was home to the Jesuit-run Campion High School until its closing in 1975.

High schools[edit]

Elementary/middle schools[edit]

The diocese's 74 elementary schools enroll 8,717 students per year.

Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools (SPACS)[edit]

SPACS is a private, PreK-12 Catholic school system located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. A consolidation of 6 parish schools, SPACS includes one early childhood center (preschool), three elementary schools (grades K-5), one middle school (grades 6-8), and one high school (grades 9-12). SPACS is supported by seven local parishes: St. Bronislava; St. Joseph; St. Stanislaus Kostka; St. Stephens; St. Peters; Newman; St. Mary (Immaculate Conception) of Torun.

Former high schools[edit]

  • Campion High School, Prairie du Chien, (closed in 1975)
  • Madonna High School, Mauston (closed in 1966)


The Diocese of La Crosse publishes a bi-weekly newspaper, The Catholic Times, which has approximately 29,000 subscribers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "Archbishop Michael Heiss". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Bishop Kilian Casper Flasch". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Diocese of La Crosse". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  5. ^ About Solanus Casey
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Diocese of La Crosse". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Bishop William Richard Griffin". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Bishop Robert Herman Flock Bever". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "Bishop George Albert Hammes". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  11. ^ 'Dusk is my Dawn: The First Hundred Years of the Diocese of La Crosse,' Fr. Gerald Fisher: 1969, pg. 160, paragraph about Bishop Hammes

Further reading[edit]

  • Fisher, Gerald Edward. 257 Things You Should Know About the Diocese of La Crosse: A Celebration of the Diocese of La Crosse: 125 Years - 1968-1993: Bishop John J. Paul 50th Anniversary of Priestly Ordination: 1943-1993, 1993.
  • Fisher, Gerald Edward. Dusk Is My Dawn: The First Hundred Years of the Diocese of La Crosse, 1969.
  • Ludwig, M. Mileta. Right Hand Uplifted: A Biography of Archbishop Michael Heiss, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 1968.
  • Brickl, Frank. Brickbats & Bouquets: Memories of a Parish Priest. 1990. (Information about the personalities of the Bishops of La Crosse from Bishop McGavick to Bishop Freking.)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°46′14″N 91°13′16″W / 43.77056°N 91.22111°W / 43.77056; -91.22111