The story of a parish is the story of the hopes and aspirations of its people. So, ever anxious to better their worldly lot, individuals tried to seek a place to live and work where they could find happiness and the least amount of obstacles in pursuing happiness. So, it was with the founders and the pioneers of our own parish. As Croats and Slovenes left their native land, Yugoslavia, then known as Austria-Hungary, they looked for a home and work in America, the Promised Land. They also sought a religious haven where their native language would be spoken.
As immigration increased, and a greater number of people began to arrive in our city, the need for a church became extremely urgent. A plea was made through the Slovenian newspaper, “Amerikanski Slovenec” printed in Joliet, Illinois, for the need of a Slovenian speaking priest. In 1907, Father James Cherne, who at that time was serving in Rock Springs, Wyoming, read this appeal and became interested. This brought promise of the beginnings of a new parish, a parish specifically suited to their needs.
The site for a new church was selected – Ninth Street and New Jersey Avenue. The cornerstone laying took place on Sunday, September 18, 1910. It was on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1911, that Father Cherne offered Mass for the first time in the new church, “The Church on the Hill”. A church building without an audible voice was a silent church. To call its people to worship, to announce the good news of a wedding, to call others to gather in prayer for a departed soul, a voice that good people like to hear for these purposes seemed to them to be a necessity. Shortly after the new church had been built, a good number of parishioners became solicitous about bells for the new church. House-to-house collections were made and $543.80 was collected from these meager donations. A firm in Ljubljana was commissioned to cast the bells. They arrived in Sheboygan on October 19, 1913. A throng of 800 people assembled for the blessing of these bells by Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer on November 2, 1913.
In 1921, upon the advice of the Pastor and with the permission of the Archbishop, the parish purchased a plot of land on the extreme west side of the city. The land was to be used for a parish cemetery and a portion of it was to be used for picnic grounds, since no such facilities existed around the church. Today Greendale Cemetery (Zelina Dolina) contains the earthly remains of over 750 of our Slovenian and Croation families. In 1952, the first great renovation of the church was underway. At that time a new Main Altar, Blessed Mother Altar, and St. Joseph Altar were purchased to enhance God’s House. It wasn’t until 1982 that the church again launched a major property improvement program to the church. In 1981, the dedication of a new Chapel at the cemetery took place, and in 1990, the new Cemetery Crucifixion Group was dedicated by Father Richard Fleischman.
The doors of our school were opened on September 11, 1923. Our first graduating class was in 1924, with 13 graduates. For 54 years, God blessed our parish with Sisters from the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King. In 1977, it was with much regret that the Sisters were no longer able to staff our school. Until the school closed its doors in 1991, lay teachers continued to teach and discipline the students.
In 2010, Ss. Cyril & Methodius celebrated their 100th Anniversary. Fr. Paul Fliss was assigned as Pastor in July 2013. Almighty God has continued to bless our parish and it is our fervent prayer that He will continue to bless it also in the future years. It is important that we take time and thank our Lord for everything He has given our parish.