St. Kilian Parish History
For over 150 years, New Franken has been a community of faith and courage. Originally settled by families that traveled to Wisconsin from their native towns and villages of Germany, our parish was initially created to relieve our ancestors from making a rigorous twelve-mile trek to the next nearest Catholic church. On April 26, 1850, the land on which St. Kilian is currently situated was donated by John and Marianna Schauer to Bishop John Martin Henni of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the purpose of building a permanent Catholic church. Initially, St. Kilian was a log structure built in 1851 to serve some fifty families as a mission church where it continued in that capacity until Reverend F. Commencind was permanently assigned as the resident Pastor in February of 1865.
In 1868, a new church was built to accommodate many new parish families, and that structure stood until it was destroyed when a lightning strike resulted in an electrical fire on September 15, 1948. The heroic efforts of parishioners helped to save many items from the sanctuary and sacristy. On August 3, 1949, the cornerstone was laid for the present church. The first public service in the new St. Kilian Church was held on Christmas Eve, 1949 and it was an important milestone as the church began to heal from the devastating fire. The new church was officially dedicated by Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona on May 11, 1950, and the building remained essentially the same until the Second Vatican Council mandated the addition of an altar facing the people. At that time, the Communion rail was removed, and other minor changes took place. In 1985, St. Kilian was renovated using many of the furnishings that were in place when the church was first rebuilt in 1949.
Today, visitors to St. Kilian encounter a distinctive worship space that reflects the simple elegance of mid-twentieth century vintage styling, highlighted by the warm earth tones of brick, complimented by a wood beamed ceiling, and accented by a paint scheme featuring the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Framed by three beautiful stained-glass windows, a statue of St. Kilian stands sentry above the congregation,
Guided by our Pastor, Fr. Carlo “Lukee” Villaluz, and following in the footsteps of our missionary patron, Saint Kilian, our parishioners share Mass and community on the same land on which our founders erected that first log church. We look back with gratitude for our many blessings while moving forward with a vision for the future as we seek and lead others to the Kingdom of God.