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St. Mary - Quinnesec


History taken from the Seasons of Faith by Angela S. Johnson


Called the "mother church" of the Dickinson area, St. Mary's in Quinnesec was the first church in the county. However, many of the early priests who came to serve there left after a short time to minister in the new parishes of neighboring communities.

Through the decades, the mission was placed under the guidance of several different parishes. Despite many hardships and sacrifices, the people of St. Mary's persevered and remained in their parish community until the church was closed in 1995.


FOUNDING. Father Martin Fox built the modest church of St. Mary's in Quinnesec in 1877. The parish offered Mass every Sunday, but retaining a resident priest was not easy because the surrounding towns were outgrowing Quinnesec. Father John Brown became the first resident pastor in 1883. He was also charged with serving Iron Mountain, Iron River and Crystal Falls. Bishop John Vertin dedicated the parish to Mary Immaculate on May 6, 1883.


By 1884 the mines on the Menominee range were no longer prospering and many people were forced to leave to look for work elsewhere. As a result, St. Mary's in Quinnesec became a mission church of Iron Mountain. Once that change was made, Mass was only offered once each month.


Those parishioners who stayed in Quinnesec, however, remained faithful to their parish, furnishing the church and building a stately rectory.


A fire in the community on May 18, 1906 destroyed half of the buildings in the town, including the church of St. Mary. The small group of parishioners who remained in Quinnesec at the time remained dedicated to their faith despite going 10 years without a church. They met for Mass in the parish rectory.


PARISH LIFE. As a witness to their ultimate goal of building a new church, parishioners purchased a bell, which they erected on the lawn of the rectory. For a decade, women solicited donations from the communities, and held raffles and a hugely successful bazaar to raise money for the building project.


Finally on Oct. 1, 1916, a new St. Mary's was dedicated without any debt having been accumulated. The parishioners donated most of the church furnishings.


In 1922 the parish came under the direction of St. Stephen Parish in Loretto, which also served St. Mary Mission in Faithorn. All three parishes flourished spiritually and materially. The 18-year pastorate of Father George Stuntebeck, who served from 1919 to 1938, afforded the people an excellent knowledge of Catholic doctrine.


The church in Quinnesec received new pews, a new bell and remodeled the side altars in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A new foundation and basement hall for use as a parish center were built in the 1950s. The old rectory was sold and demolished at this time. Renovations included the construction of a sacristy, new roof, chimney, tower and painting. The church interior was also redecorated, including the installation of a new window depicting the Immaculate Conception with two adoring angels.


In 1966, the affiliation with Loretto came to an end and responsibility for St. Mary's was given to American Martyrs of Kingsford. On Aug. 4, 1970, St. Mary's became a mission of the church in Norway.

The parish celebrated its centennial Oct. 8, 1977, with a commemorative Mass, dinner and program.


CLOSURE. St. Mary Parish was closed July 1, 1995, as a result of the diocesan pastoral plan "Fully Alive in '95." The people of the parish were welcomed into the faith community of St. Mary Parish in Norway.

In 1996 the Menominee Range Historical Foundation purchased the Quinnesec church. The group intended to develop a museum dedicated to the display of religious goods. However, the endeavor did not develop.


RECORDS. Records for St. Mary Parish in Quinnesec are located at St. Mary's Parish in Norway.


PASTORS. Fathers Martin Fox, 1877-1878; Hilary J. Roseau, 18781881; Luke Mosina, 1881-1882; Mathias Orth, 1882; John C. Kenny, 1882; John Brown, 1883; Melchior Faust, 1883-1886; A. T. Schuttelhoffer, 1886-1887; John H. Reynaert, 1887-1888; John Keul, 1888-1890; Honoratus Bourion, 1890-1893; Francis X. Becker, 1893; John Chebul, 1893; Joseph Kunes, 1893; Anthony Hodnik, 1893-1897; Adam Doser, 1897-1898; Nickolas H. Nosbisch, 1904-1910; James Corcoran, 1910-1919; John Mockler, 1919-1922; George Stuntebeck, 1922-1938; Raphael Gherna, 1938-1943; Thomas Lester Bourgeois, 1943-1945; Edward J. Lulewicz, 1945-1950; Frederick Hofmann, 1950-1951; John McLaughlin, 1951-1957; Thomas Andary, 1957-1959; August Franczek, 19591963; S. Patrick Wisneske, 1963-1966; John Hughes, 1966-1970; Elmer Bares, 1970-1981; William G. Richards, 1981-1985; Peter J. Carli, 1985-1992, and Arnold Grambow, 1992-1995.



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