History

Original Church Construction

The decade of the 1920's was a period of growth in Kohler with many new houses being built. However, some Catholic families were reluctant to settle in the village because there was no parish church. Catholics already in the village were members of parishes in Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls.

The families met on May 25, 1927 in the village hall to discuss the possibility of forming a parish and building a church. Over 35 family units were represented and they chose temporary officers to seek approval from the archdiocese and pledges toward a building fund. John Stieber was named secretary; Frank Scherer, treasurer; and Anton Braun, who had been told by Walter Kohler that the company was concerned about not being able to attract Catholic workers, was named president.   

Original Church Exterior

Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer of Milwaukee visited the village on October 22 to meet with the temporary officers as well as with the officers of the Kohler Company. He gave his approval to establish a parish and named it a mission parish of St. Mary's, Sheboygan Falls, under the direction of Father George Goesl, pastor of St. Mary's.

Father Goesl's pastorate at St. John's lasted until 1938. In 1939 he left St. Mary's for Lomira. Although St. John's was a mission parish, he was deeply involved in the education of its children and was remembered for inspiring liturgies and sermons.

Original Church Interior

On the first Sunday of July 1928, the members of St. John Evangelist Parish for the first time assisted at Mass as a congregation. Father Goesl celebrated in surplus vestments parishioners had purchased from area churches. In the years to follow he was assisted in serving his two parishes by one or another Capuchin priests from Mount Calvary Seminary.

In the summer of 1939, the positioning of the buildings on the site was decided and Guenther Contracting Company was hired. Ground was broken in August and the cornerstone blessed and laid on December 3.

There was general agreement among parishioners and other villagers that St. John's was truly a handsome building on an attractively landscaped slope that gave a feeling of sanctuary to the building. Father Carroll's organizational skills and taste in furnishings and decoration were credited with lending much to the beauty of the new church.

Father Carroll kept the parish active – in part by arranging for several missions to be held at St. John's. One was conducted by Father William Cousins who later became archbishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

When Father Carroll was assigned to St. Clement's in Sheboygan in 1948, Father John Risch came to St. John's from Lake Church. That was also the year when the budget plan for church support was abandoned and the envelope system which is still used today began.

During Father Risch's pastorate, the installation of the stained glass windows was completed, and, on Christmas 1948, he gave St. John's parishioners a book identifying the scenes depicted in the windows and explaining their Biblical significance.

In 1957, Father Risch was succeeded by Father Francis Shea. Mrs. Albert Ehren, who had been the organist since the church was built, resigned and Charles Balzer was hired. He organized an adult mixed choir. After only 14 months at St. John's, Father Shea was assigned to St. Patrick's, Racine and Father William Cox came to St. John's from St. Patrick's, Fond du Lac.

St. John's church underwent some major changes in the 1960's during the pastorate of Father Charles Neu. Major improvements included the purchase of a pipe organ to replace the electric organ which had needed frequent repairs; remodeling the alcove west of the main altar to conform to the east chapel; installation of a carved statue of the Blessed Mother and Child in the east chapel; installation of a carved statue of St. Joseph the Worker in the new west chapel; carpeting of the sanctuary; blacktopping of the parking lot; and landscaping of newly purchased land.

Father Paul Lippert served as administrator for a month until Father Louis J. Wilimek was installed as pastor in February 1971. Father Harold J. O'Connor who, for health reasons, had retired from the pastorate of St. Francis de Sales, Lake Geneva, came to make his home with Father Wilimek in Kohler. Father Wilimek had been assistant to Father O'Connor for eleven years. Father O'Connor remained at Kohler until his death in 1983, participating in most aspects of parish life but especially enjoying instructing the youngest parishioners.

In May of 1975, a celebration of the silver jubilee of Father Wilimek's ordination was celebrated by the parish and his family, brother priests and other friends.

Father Bob Lotz was appointed temporary administer of Blessed Trinity Parish in 2007. On June 19, 2007 he was appointed pastor of St. John Evangelist and Blessed Trinity Parishes.

Blessed Trinity Parish made a very difficult decision to close St. Mary School in 2013. Plans were in progress to develop a new inter-parish program for St. John Evangelist Parish in Kohler and Blessed Trinity Parish in Sheboygan Falls. The former St. Mary School was changed to the Catholic Life Center that now provides inter-parish religious education, youth ministry, adult formation, and adult, senior and family events and programs for both parishes.

For more information about the parish history, including biographies of the priests who have served the parish as well as information about parishioners who entered vocations, read our Parish History booklet.