St. Francis Solanus Mission/Parish
Church – 13891 W Mission Road
School – 13885 W Mission Road
P.O. Stone Lake WI 54876
(Located in Sawyer County)
Daily Mass schedule and bulletin:
Year Parish was established: 1790
Number of Households: Rather unknown, because there are many extended families.
Pastor: Fr. Gregory Hopefl
Weekend Mass Schedule: Saturday: 4:30 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m.

Describe your faith community

St. Francis Solanus Mission/Parish located on the beautiful shores of the little Lac Courte Oreilles Lake on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation at the village of Reserve is a center for members with a deep faith commitment to gather. It is unique, consisting of cultural peoples, predominantly Ojibwe. All cultures are always welcome at any time and for all liturgies and events. Traditional liturgies and common, colorful customs are prevalent, yet updates and renewals are initiated and fulfilled.

The Franciscan priests from the Sacred Heart Province in St. Louis, Missouri, have worked at the Mission for 90 years. The Superior Diocesan priests began the work at the mission in 1860 until 1878, returned from 1918 to 1938, and returned again in 1988 to the present. The School Sisters of St. Francis from Milwaukee have been working at the mission for more than 100 years. Parishioners volunteer for liturgical ministries, fundraisers, and other charitable works.

When visitors come to our parish, they will …

… observe they are always welcome. They will be inspired by the pipestone covered church and the interior décor. Several genuine Ojibwe artifacts handcrafted by the Ojibwe community beautifully enhance particularly the sanctuary. The tabernacle is within a wigwam covered with hand-tanned buckskin. The lectern cover is designed like an Ojibwe dancer’s back bustle, made of eagle feathers and a panel of beaded roses on white buckskin. The Easter Candle stand is a superb piece of Ojibwe Catholic art.

A first-class relic of St. Kateri Tekakwitha is encased in the center of the main altar surrounded by a white buckskin antependium, hand-beaded with buckskin fringes. All artifacts were handcrafted by local Ojibwe of Lac Courte Oreilles.

In what way(s) does your parish proclaim the Gospel with its actions?

Our Catholic faith community, inspired by the Gospel values of compassion and love, strive to build a Christian community that invites all members to commit ourselves to serve God and community through liturgical life, ongoing religious formation, cultural dimensions and service to all.

Working with our parents, parish, and community, it is the mission of St. Francis Solanus School to provide the highest quality of Catholic education of the whole child. We strive to enhance each student’s desire and motivation to learn, enlivened by faith, love and respect, growing and developing gifts to full potential.

Our St. Kateri Circle holds monthly gatherings of prayer and an added social hour. Parishioners visit the sick and go Christmas caroling, especially to the elders, hospitals, and care facilities. Children pray extra prayers each day for all our benefactors near and far. Extra catechetical instruction is held weekly.

What is something about your parish that most people might not know?

St. Francis Solanus Mission/Parish is a historical marker. Anyone visiting will see the official erected marker at the entrance to our Mission. There are two outdoor shrines, Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, and a St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine. There is also an abundant supply of history about the people and events of this mission.

Many are not aware that a memorial to Fr. Philip Gordon, the second Native American priest of the United States, has been displayed at our Mission, because Fr. Gordon was appointed pastor of St. Francis Solanus Mission from 1918-1924 by the Superior Diocesan Bishop Joseph Koudelka. In 1921, the church which had been built in 1881 was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Fr. Gordon took a small group of Ojibwe children and traveled wherever he could, where the children performed their Ojibwe dances. The group raised $30,000, in order to begin building the present church in 1923, which was completed with the tower in the early 1950s.

The builders of the church were all Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, with the exception of the architect and contractor.