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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Father Caspar Rehrl (Historic Marker Erected 1991)


St. John the Baptist Church, Hwy. W, Johnsburg, Fond du Lac County

 A priest, missionary, teacher, founder of churches and schools, and organizer of parishes, Father Rehrl was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1809. He became a mission­ary to North America, arriving in the new diocese of Milwaukee in Wisconsin Territory in 1845. He traveled on foot through the Wisconsin wilderness to Johnsburg, a small community of German settlers established in 1841, where he was appointed the first resident pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish. Throughout his life, Father Rehrl energetically carried out his missionary work on this eastern Wisconsin frontier, organizing more than 15 parishes and schools, including Holy Name in Sheboygan, Holy Cross in Mount Calvary, and St. Joseph in Fond du Lac. As the number of Wisconsin parishes grew, Father Rehrl saw the need for dedicat­ed religious women to help with education. On August 12, 1858, he founded the Sisters of St. Agnes, an order of teaching and nursing sisters whose services spread from Wisconsin to Kansas and New York. Father Rehrl died on September 3, 1881, and is buried in St. Agnes Sisters Cemetery in Fond du Lac.

[Source: McBride, Sarah Davis. History Just Ahead (Madison:WHS, 1999).]

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