Church Road, Red Cliff, WI 54814
(Located in Bayfield County)
Year parish was established: 1861
Pastor: Fr. Kevin Gordon
Weekend Sacramental Priests: Fr. Dean Buttrick, Fr. William Murphy
Director of Pastoral Services: Deacon Roger Cadotte
Pastoral Minister: Deacon Ken Kasinski
Weekend Mass: Sunday: 8 a.m.; Wednesday: 8:30 a.m.
Describe your faith community
St. Francis Church and Cemetery sit on the Red Cliff Ojibway Reservation, overlooking Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay. Surrounded by trees, the small church, with its bright red steel roof, was constructed by locals in 1942. St. Francis Church building was nearly destroyed in 1947 when the nearby Indian school, convent and rectory were destroyed by fire. St. Francis is the third Catholic church at this location. The pastor, Fr. Kevin Gordon, is a Red Cliff Ojibway. Though small, the congregation is made up of Native Americans and non-Natives.
“When visitors come to our parish, they will …
… be greeted by a small community of Native Americans and non-Natives. They will experience a warm welcome and openness by the congregation. Artwork in the sanctuary includes a painting of the Crucifixion (by local artist,)a wood carving of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, and a beadwork depiction of the blessed Trinity. The community center below the church celebrates scenes from St. Francis’ life by a local artist.
On special occasions, blessings and prayers may be conducted in the Native way. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the only Native American saint, is celebrated at the end of each Mass.”
In what ways does your parish proclaim the Gospel with its actions?
Beginning with calling the congregation with its large bell, to ending the Mass with the St. Kateri prayer, one can feel the warmth and love among the congregation. A monthly breakfast brings social interactions, as well as feeds those in need. The Kateri Circle meets to celebrate the community and Native American prayer needs. A study group and commitment to elderly care reflects the spirituality of the community. Many funerals are celebrated by the VFW color guard and Native drumming.
What is something about your parish most people might not know?
Construction cost of St. Francis in 1942 was just $3,000. It was built primarily by members of the parish, with recycled materials. After the 1947 fire, the basement served as the convent, the choir loft became the rectory, and the church a school. The students sat on kneelers and used the seats for desks. This went on for nearly four years while a new Indian school complex was being built.