Ashland is one of the oldest sites of Catholicism in all of the northern United States, dating back to 1650 when Jesuit Priests landed with French fur traders at "Mission Springs" on the west side of Ashland. Mass was celebrated at Holy Ghost Church on Ashland's Maslowski Beach in the early 1650's when the entire region's economy centered around the fur trade at La Pointe on Madeline Island, and Jesuit priests worked to spread Catholicism throughout the region. The continuous Catholic presence began in the 1850's with missionary ministry from Franciscan Sisters and Priests in service to Native Americans and the many cultures of new European settlers. Over the years, two Catholic churches - Holy Family and St. Agnes, St. Joseph's Hospital, two grade schools, the DePadua Catholic High School and St. Agnes Cemetery were all established to serve the large local Catholic community on the south shore of Lake Superior.
Our Lady of the Lake is one of the oldest parishes in the Diocese of Superior. Our congregation, like many, is aging, but with our pre-K through 8th grade elementary school, we continue to engage with and attract young families. From our beginnings in the mid 1800's, the St. Louis Franciscan Friars served this parish until most recently in mission outreach to northern Wisconsin. Currently we have approximately 1100 families who call Our Lady "home", many who have a long standing membership with our parish for four (or more) generations.
Visitors to Our Lady of the Lake will be amazed with our church building's 1887 neo-gothic architecture and beautiful 100+ year old stained glass windows depicting the nine Ranks of Angels, as well as the carved statues of saints and the Holy Family. Franciscan Friar Adrian Wewer designed and built our church building using locally quarried brownstone from the Apostle Islands. Remodeled in 1994, the parish works very hard at preserving the integrity and beauty of our historic building which celebrates the splendor of God's beautiful creation on earth.
Our Lady of the Lake's main ministry is to education as evidenced by the 135 year history of Catholic schooling. Over the many years, thousands of children have been formed in the Catholic faith through this ministry. In addition, children ages 3 through 18 are involved in the vibrant Faith Formation Program. Adult faith formation and devotional ministries include our 24 hour Adoration Chapel, bible study groups, feeding the hungry through weekly community meals program and local food pantry, ecumenical ministerial association, free holiday meals, and very active Knights of Columbus and Catholic Order of Foresters chapters.
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