Open Wide the Door to Christ

St. Helen Church

On April 6, 1925, the Rev. Constantine Wasniewski, who was an assistant pastor of St. Hyacinth’s parish in Milwaukee was appointed by Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer to organize a new southside parish. The Rev. Wasniewski called the first meeting on April 25, 1925 at St. John Kanty church.

Out of the 50 new parishioners who were present, a committee was chosen and the name selected for the new parish was St. Helen — to include the area from West Oklahoma Avenue and South 6th Street to South 13th Street and Holy Trinity Cemetery. The first Mass was held February 13, 1927. The parish school opened in September 1926, with four sisters of the Felician order.

The founding pastor, the Rev. Wasniewski, was ordained June 8, 1913. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Brzonkala, who was ordained March 10, 1912. Our third pastor was Msgr. John A. Wieczorek,who was ordained February 2, 1930. Msgr. Wieczorek was responsible for the major remodeling of the school.

He was succeeded by the Rev. Albin Sowinski in 1974. Rev. Sowinski was ordained May 25, 1951. In 1987, major church renovation, including new pews, statues, altars and stained glass windows, took place under Rev. Sowinski’s direction. Re-dedication of St. Helen’s was held on May 9, 1987 by Archbishiop Rembert Weakland. Rev. Sowinski retired in 1995 and currently resides at St. Carmillus Health Care Center, Wauwatosa.

He was succeeded by the Rev. Michael A. Ignaszak, who was ordained May 18, 1984 and appointed as fifth pastor on February 25, 1997.

Since 1925, St. Helen’s has been serving the needs of people in the area through the administration of the Sacraments, education and social events—all meant to bring and keep its people closer to God.