Building St. Eugene Congregations was a labor of love. Born from the foresight of one priest and nurtured by the leadership of another, the "Spirit of St. Eugene" is alive and flourishing.
The seven acres of land now occupied by the parish were purchased in the late 1920's by Father Peter Dietz, then pastor of St. Monica Parish. At that time Fr. Dietz was ministering to the Catholics of St. Monica from a barn which had been converted into a church. He understood the Catholic population would outgrow its boundaries and that another parish would eventually be established.
It was 30 years later in June, 1957 when Father William H. Mackin would build a new parish. It would be called St. Eugene, named for Pope St. Eugene I, baptismal patron of Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli).
Stewardship built this parish.
Father Mackin arrived with nothing but seven acres and no money for his new parish. But he did have a dedicated group of North Shore Catholics who would build the parish.
There was the old Fox Point Meeting house that have been built in 1888 by St. John Evangelical Lutheran church that was scheduled to be torn down but an agreement was reach to allow the parish to rent it for one year for $1000 until a new church could be built.
Under Fr. Mackin's leadership, over 100 parishioners formed working shifts to paint and repair the meeting house. In one week's time, the old abandoned building had been transformed and the first Mass was offered there on July 14, 1957.
A spirit of community had formed. Joe Martin, quickly earned the title of "Samson" because of his prowess in lifting the paint scaffold above his head. Bernie Lubarsky astounded all by her skill with the chain saw and Virginia Mecklenberg worked overtime scrubbing kneelers. Tony Moroder outdid himself in painting the sanctuary and Stations of the Cross and Lou Basso with his helpers almost gave up trying to move the organ from his truck through the narrow doors of the meeting house.
By this time the parish had grown to 377 families and Fr. Mackin explained the financial situation to his parishioners. He explained the first deposit of the parish was $1830 which was the sum of several weeks of St. Eugene envelopes from parishioners of St. Monica as well as the very first St. Eugene collection.
The construction costs for the new church, school, hall and Sisters' quarters were expected to be around $550,000 and they needed $215,000 to start. Younger families were asked to pledge a total of $165,000 over a three year period and the more established remaining families to give $50,000. The drive was a success and ground was broken on June 1, 1958.
St. Eugene Congregation has continued the spirit and practice of stewardship to this day. While the campus may change, the community will continue this tradition of forming disciples and sharing our time, talents and treasure to ensure St. Eugene will be here for future generations.
We are forever grateful to the stewards who founded this parish and gifted it to generations to come.