History of Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception Parish was organized in July, 1903. By 1903, a sufficient number of Lithuanians had come to Sheboygan to create a desire to have a Catholic congregation of their own. Accordingly, Archbishop Messmer granted permission to organize a congregation. A building known as the Church of Christ, Divine Science, located on the southeast corner of Erie Ave. and 10th St. was purchased for $6,000 and reconstructed into a Catholic Church. The name Immaculate Conception was chosen. The church became the third parish in Sheboygan with 35 families and 50 individual members. Land for the parish cemetery was purchased in 1929, located on Weeden Creek Road between S. 12th St. and Lake Shore Drive.
The first Pastor was Rev. Casimir Ambrozaitis. The early years were filled with hardships and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Numerous priests served the parish as Pastors for varying lengths of time, but there were periods of many months when the church had no Pastor because of the lack of Lithuanian-speaking priests in the Archdiocese. Nevertheless, the people clung fast to their faith and to their church and, despite all difficulties, the parish continued to grow.
On May 3, 1931, the Rev. James J. Shlikas became Pastor. This date marked the beginning of a renewed vitality in the life and unity of Immaculate Conception. In June of 1938, I.C. Parish celebrated its 35th Anniversary. The congregation had grown to 178 families and had recorded 812 baptisms, 294 marriages, and 188 funerals. A new rectory was built in 1939, and extensive remodeling and renovation of the church and hall were completed. Beginning in 1939, Fr. Shlikas arranged to have the Sisters of St. Casimir provide nuns to give the religious instructions to the parish during the summer months. Those summer classes continued annually until 1951, when the Sisters took up residence in one of the parish-owned homes and began teaching religion classes throughout the year, particularly to those children attending public schools.
By the time the parish celebrated its golden anniversary in June of 1953, it had become increasingly evident that the parish had reached a static plateau and the major need to prevent a probably decline, was a school. It was decided to purchase the 6.90 acres of undeveloped land bounded by Humboldt and Wilson Ave., and Henry and S. 14th St. This area of the city was sparsely settled at this time, and although Wilson Ave. was paved, the other streets were graded but unsurfaced. In 1959, ground was broken on Easter Sunday, with Archbishop William Cousins presiding. The first Mass was celebrated on Tuesday, February 2, 1960.
Immaculate Conception Grade School officially opened on September 7, 1960. There were approximately 180 students in grades one through five, utilizing four classrooms. The teachers were three Sisters of St. Casimir and one lay teacher. Additional grades and teachers were added during each following year, until eight grades were in operation. In 1986, Immaculate Conception and St. Peter Claver Parishes combined schools, and renamed the school Christ Child Academy, later to be joined by Ss. Cyril & Methodius School. A kindergarten and preschool were added recently.
For years, the priests continued to live in the old church rectory on Erie Ave., but this was not a satisfactory arrangement and the present rectory was built in 1964. The remaining church properties at the Erie Ave. site were then sold, and all ties with the old church were ended.
The parish continued to expand with the Staskunas Activity Center which was named after Fr. Ignatius Staskunas. He headed the building campaign. The recent renovation of the church in 1993, converting it to handicap accessible, helped to expand the parish, and make it a more welcoming worship space for new and life-long parishioners.
In 1995, Fr. Glenn Powers was appointed as Pastor. He was the eighteenth Pastor. In 2001, due to a shortage of priests, Fr. Glenn was assigned to serve as Pastor of both I.C. and Ss. Cyril & Methodius. Under his guidance a Combined Council served both parishes. In 2003, Immaculate Conception Parish celebrated its 100 year anniversary! In January 2012, Fr. Paul Fliss took over as Administrator of all three parishes on the south side of Sheboygan, and later became Pastor of the tri-parish faith communities.