Discover the Diocese of La Crosse

The Roman Catholic Diocese of La Crosse (LatinDioecesis Crossensis) covers an area of west-central Wisconsin.

Diocese area

The diocese includes the city of La Crosse and 19 counties: AdamsBuffaloChippewa,ClarkCrawfordDunnEau ClaireJacksonJuneauLa CrosseMarathonMonroePepin,PiercePortageRichlandTrempealeauVernon, and Wood.

The Metropolitan for the diocese is the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The mother church is theCathedral of Saint Joseph the Workman, and the Bishop of La Crosse is the former Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop, William P. Callahan, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, June 11, 2010. He was installed on August 11, 2010. On November 14, 2009, the former La Crosse Bishop Jerome Listecki was appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee. He succeeded Archbishop Timothy Dolan who was transferred to New York. Listecki was installed in Milwaukee on January 4, 2010. In 2006, Listecki had succeeded Raymond Leo Burke as La Crosse's bishop; Burke had become the Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri and later the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court. Burke succeeded Bishop John Joseph Paul in 1994.


The Diocese of La Crosse was established by Pope Pius IX on March 3, 1868, from territory that was taken from what was then the Diocese of Milwaukee. It included the part of Wisconsin lying north and west of the Wisconsin River. Michael Heiss. Then head of St. Francis Seminary, Milwaukee, was named the first bishop and La Crosse the see.

On May 3, 1905, the territory of the Dioceses of La Crosse and Green Bay was brought together to form the Diocese of Superior, reducing the diocese to the counties of Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, Sauk, Trempealeau, Vernon, and Wood, an area of 17,299 square miles (44,800 km2).

When the diocese was established, there were 22 priests who had to care for 23 churches and about 50 stations. Along with the English and German congregations, provisions were also made for Poles and Italians. Franciscan sisters and lay teachers had charge of six parish schools. During the twelve years of his administration in La Crosse, Heiss built several churches, including the cathedral, and the episcopal residence. On March 14, 1880, he was appointed coadjutor with right of succession to the Archbishop of Milwaukee, and succeeded, September 7, 1881. He died at La Crosse, March 26, 1890.

Kilian Flasch, second bishop, was born at Retzstadt, Bavaria, July 16, 1837, immigrated when he was ten years old, and settled near Milwaukee. He was selected as the successor of Bishop Heiss and consecrated Bishop of La Crosse, August 24, 1881. During his administration of ten years he worked to increase the churches and the schools of the diocese, dying after a long illness on August 3, 1891.

James Schwebach, his vicar-general, succeeded him as the third bishop, and was consecrated, February 25, 1892.

On January 9, 1946, territory from the Dioceses of La Crosse and Green Bay and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was taken to form theDiocese of Madison.

Father Solanus Casey, of the Capuchin religious order, who was declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1995, was born in Pierce County, Wisconsin, which is part of the Diocese of La Crosse.

The Diocese today

Throughout its 19 counties, the diocese has 108 parishes with a resident pastor and 57 others without a resident pastor. There are 177 diocesan priests incardinated in the diocese, while another 15 priests belong to various religious institutes. In December 2012, 32 seminarians were studying to enter the priesthood of the diocese. There are also four religious brothers, 31 permanent deacons, five hermits and three consecrated virgins. 447 religious sisters belong mainly to two large religious institutes: the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis in Stevens Point and the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse. Other active religious are theFranciscan Friars of the Immaculate in La Crosse, Capuchins

 in Marathon, and the Cistercians in Sparta. The Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr St George also have a convent in La Crosse.

Bishops of the Diocese of La Crosse

The following is a list of the Bishops of the Diocese of La Crosse and their terms of service:

Auxiliary Bishops

Affiliated Bishops

Diocesan institutions

Among the institutions in the Diocese of La Crosse are 10 Catholic-affiliated hospitals; Viterbo University, which enrolls 2,167 students; St. Rose of Viterbo Convent, the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse. The first Mass was held at the Shrine on July 31, 2008. Prairie du Chien was home to the Jesuit-run Campion High Schooluntil its closing in 1975.

High schools

Elementary/middle schools

The diocese's 74 elementary schools enroll 8,717 students per year.

Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools (SPACS)

SPACS is a private, PreK-12 Catholic school system located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. A consolidation of 6 parish schools, SPACS includes one early childhood center (preschool), three elementary schools (grades K-5), one middle school (grades 6-8), and one high school (grades 9-12). SPACS is supported by seven local parishes: St. Bronislava; St. Joseph; St. Stanislaus Kostka; St. Stephens; St. Peters; Newman; St. Mary (Immaculate Conception) of Torun.


The Diocese of La Crosse publishes a bi-weekly newspaper, The Catholic Times, which has approximately 29,000 subscribers.



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