A Jesuit Parish
The foundation of Gesu Parish stretches back to the year 1849, three
years after Milwaukee was incorporated as a city. Bishop Martin J.
Henni built St. Gall’s Church on Second and Sycamore
Michigan) Streets. This parish community was primarily English-speaking
people of Irish heritage living on the near south and west sides of the
In 1848, Bishop Henni received a gift from a Belgian benefactor for the
endowment of a Jesuit college in Milwaukee. In 1855, Henni offered St.
Gall’s to the Jesuits. Bishop Henni was impressed by the
world-wide accomplishments of the Jesuits and their strong commitment
to education as well as ministry. He hoped that by offering St.
Gall’s to the Jesuits, that much-needed schools and colleges
would soon follow.
The Society of Jesus accepted Bishop Henni’s offer, and began
thriving parochial ministry in Milwaukee. In 1857, St. Aloysius
Academy, the predecessor of Marquette University High School, opened.
Seven years later, St. Aloysius was renamed St. Gall’s
and moved to a larger building. The charter for Marquette College was
secured by 1864. St. Gall’s parish grew so rapidly that in
they built a brick church. Within 10 years that church exceeded its
capacity and in 1875 a second Jesuit parish, Holy Name Parish, was
built at 11th and State Streets, next to Marquette College.
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