St. Leo the Great
On September 13, 1957, the most Reverend John P .Tracey, Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse announced the establishment of the new Parish at West Salem to be called The Parish of St. Leo the Great.
The Rev. Msgr. George A. Hammes, chancellor of the Diocese was assigned as the first pastor.
The decree of the bishop was effective on November 1, 1957, which became the birthday of St. Leo’s. There were approximately 25 founding families.
Prior to this time, Catholics of West Salem held membership in St. Mary’s parish at Bangor and surrounding parishes.
The rectory was purchased on the outskirts of the village on Highway 16.
The old rectory was relocated to 325 East Garland Street. In 1979 an annex, rectory, and lower level CCD classrooms were added to the church.
The first Sunday Mass was held on November 3, 1957 in the Village theater. This practice continued until the church was built.
Daily Mass was offered in the rectory basement, where a chapel had been provided.
On October 29, 1957 the ladies of the parish met and organized the Alter Society.
The ladies immediately began fund raising projects for purchase of furnishing for the church.
The first religious instruction classes were held on November 9th.
The classes were held in the homes of several members of the parish.
St. Mary Parish was established in 1898 in Bangor.
The first Masses were conducted in private homes by Msgr. Henry Flock, who was pastor of St. Patrick’s in Sparta.
Donations from the founding members and local businesses enabled the erection of the first church at the north end of Johnson Street.
The church was a small frame building with a belfry and cross.
Formal dedication of the Church was held on Thanksgiving Day, 1898, by Monsignor Flock.
Shortly after the completion of the church, land adjacent to the church was purchased for a cemetery.
In 1902, there were eleven families active in the parish.
Improvements were made to the Church in 1910 with the addition of a sacristy and sanctuary.
Growth of membership soon made these facilities inadequate, and in April of 1928, the Concordia Hall was purchased from the Concordia Society—a German Gymnastic society.
It was remodeled, provided with a belfry, finished in stucco and dedicated on October 28, 1928.
In 2018, St. Mary celebrated 120 years of serving the People of God in Bangor.
Sadly, in the spring of 2020, major structural failure was discovered, rendering the structure unusable.
The church building was deconsecrated on October 26, 2020.
St. Teresa of Kolkata
After much prayer and discernment, the most Reverend William P. Callahan, Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, made the determination to merge the two parish families (St. Leo the Great and St. Mary’s) together, utilizing the church building in West Salem for the newly established parish.
St. Teresa of Kolkata became the official parish name for the West Salem and Bangor communities on July 1, 2021.