906-265-4557
Phone: 906-265-4557 | Email: stagnesstcecilia@gmail.com St. Agnes, St. Cecilia, & Immaculate Conception Churches Website by North Country Website Design.

Our History

Fr. James Lenhart, Ph.D.

The the first photo was taken of Fr. James Lenhart, Ph.D. in front of the old St. Agnes Rectory. Upon his arrival here, Fr. Lenhart found the church without a sacristy or belfry, so he suggested building a new church with a projected cost of fifteen thousand dollars. The new St. Agnes church was dedicated on November 28, 1901, (This building burned down by a fire in 1954, then rebuilt and dedicated in 1956). Fr. Lenhart began his long pastorate of St. Agnes on September l, 1898 and continued for 37 years, until his death by murder in 1934.

1974 Father Brackett's Altar Boy Servers

St. Cecilia's Church Back Row: Ernie Remondini, Chuck Butorac. Don Rizzardi, Larry Schiavo, Mark Shamion, Victor Fiorazo, Father Louis Brackett. Second row: Eugene Zorzin, Paul Aldegarie, Tony Fittante, Mike Cattani, Mike Fiorazo, Allan McLaine, Mike Kmichiek. Third Row: Frank Baker, Mark Fittante, Steve Benson, David Aregoni, Jim Atanasoff, Tom Kinney. Front Row: Bill Cataldo, Chris Haglund, Brian Pellizaro, Bob Watts, George Stiffe, Gene Bortolomeolli. Photo by Jack Cozzuol, Iron River, Michigan.

2016 Black Cow Event

October 8, 2016 at V.A. Hospital in Iron Mountain. The Black Cow Event is a quarterly event which serves veterans ice cream sodas and treats. Pictured above are Arthur Aregoni, Stewart Adair, Robert Remondini.

2013 St. Agnes Choir

Front row: left to right: Joyce Myefski. Paulette Davis, Jane Lombardini, Carol Brunswick. Second row: Charlotte Serena, Mary Wall, Gayle Cerney, Dennis Cerney, Bernice Pairolero, Melissa Powell. Third row: Ron Basso, Sue LaFountain, Terri Floriano, Nancy Clements, Carol Stanchina. Fourth row: Harold Nichols, Rose Watt, Tim Hines, Barb Martini, Sarah Townsend, Violinist, Luella AMbach, organist. Missing: Jane Townsend, pianist. Approximate year 2013.

2013 St. Cecilia Church Choir

Top Row: Don MacDonald, Jim Paul, Donna Capello, Gloria Ingold, Theresa Jacques, Klaryce Bilski. Middle Row: Michelle Wiegand, Delina Liptak, Donna Banks. Bottom Row: Stephanie Wiegand, Rosalie King Organist Katherine Kudlaty

2021 St. Agnes Church Choir Christmas

1916 St. Agnes Mission

1934 Church of Saint Agnes Mission

1948 St. Agnes Mission

1950 St. Agnes Mission

1910 Official Guide Booklet of St. Agnes Church

1901 - 1951 Jubilee Remembrance

1960 The Golden Jubilee

Father Hennelly’s 25th Anniversary

1944 First Communion at the Mother Church

St. Agnes, Iron River, MI, Fr. Eugene T. Hennelly, pastor Patricia Mahon, center, holding bouquet

St. Mary's of the Assumption

Wedding of Ramona Wodzinski and Robert Ross on September 1, 1947 at Assumption Church St. Mary's of the Assumption. Left to right: Tom Wall Fr. Polawski, Dan Wall. circa 1977 Final Mass at St. Mary's of the Assumption Church - Cheryl Zielinski Spencer, organist and directress. Luella AMbach, organist

St. Cecilia Martyr, Patroness of Church Music

Feast Day: November 22 Born: Rome Major Shrine: Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome, Italy Patron of: Church music, great musicians, poets In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the Loves of Cecilia and Valerian, written, like those of Chrysanthus and Daria, Julian and Basilissa, in glorification of the virginal life, and with the purpose of taking the place of the sensual romances of Daphnis and Chloe, Chereas and Callirhoe, etc., which were then popular. The story of S. Cecilia is not without beauty and merit. There was in the city of Rome a virgin named Cecilia, who was given in marriage to a youth named Valerian. She wore sackcloth next to her skin, and fasted, and invoked the saints and angels and virgins, beseeching them to guard her virginity. And she said to her husband, "I will tell you a secret if you will swear not to reveal it to anyone." And when he swore, she added, "There is an angel who watches me, and wards off from me any who would touch me." He said, "Dearest, if this be true, show me the angel." "That can only be if you will believe in one God, and be baptized." She sent him to Pope S. Urban (223-230), who baptized him; and when he returned, he saw Cecilia praying in her chamber, and an angel by her with flaming wings, holding two crowns of roses and lilies, which he placed on their heads, and then vanished. Shortly after, Tibertius, the brother of Valerian, entered, and wondered at the fragrance and beauty of the flowers at that season of the year. When he heard the story of how they had obtained these crowns, he also consented to be baptized. After their baptism the two brothers devoted themselves to burying the martyrs slain daily by the prefect of the city, Turcius Almachius. [There was no prefect of that name.] They were arrested and brought before the prefect, and when they refused to sacrifice to the gods were executed with the sword. In the meantime, S. Cecilia, by preaching had converted four hundred persons, whom Pope Urban forthwith baptized. Then Cecilia was arrested, and condemned to be suffocated in the baths. She was shut in for a night and a day, and the fires were heaped up, and made to glow and roar their utmost, but Cecilia did not even break out into perspiration through the heat. When Almachius heard this he sent an executioner to cut off her head in the bath. The man struck thrice without being able to sever the head from the trunk. He left her bleeding, and she lived three days. Crowds came to her, and collected her blood with napkins and sponges, whilst she preached to them or prayed. At the end of that period she died, and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons. St. Cecilia is regarded as the patroness of music [because of the story that she heard heavenly music in her heart when she was married], and is represented in art with an organ or organ-pipes in her hand. From Baring-Gould, M.A., Rev. S. “The Lives of the Saints”, published in 1914 in Edinburgh. Source: www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=34

History of Immaculate Conception

Started as a mission of Ewen in the 1880s, Immaculate Conception Parish in Watersmeet has been independent since 1916. The first resident pastor arrived in 1916. The original church was built around 1890 and the rectory in 1916. Father Samuel Bottoni, began his long 44-year pastorate from 1952 to 1996 and led the parish in construction of a modern church building. The original church and rectory were moved eight miles south to Camp Plagens on the shore of Moon Lake. The new church was dedicated July 7, 1956. Camp Plagens was located at the northeast end of the lake. The camp was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. It was used as a winter training camp for troops during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Camp Plagens was later donated to the Diocese of Marquette and was used as a summer camp for youth until the middle 1970s. Father Samuel Battoni continued to hold Saturday evening and Sunday evening Catholic masses at Camp Plagens in St. John’s Chapel until the mid 1990s. Shortly after Father Battoni’s death in 1995, the camp was sold to the Lac Vieux Desert tribe in Watersmeet. In the spring of 2003, the tribe received a grant to restore one barracks building and the chapel for use as a historical museum. On July 1, 2019, Bishop John Doerffler joined Immaculate Conception Church to the parishes of St. Agnes in Iron River and St. Cecilia in Caspian. Fr. Gregory Veneklase was assigned as Pastor/Administrator, with Fr Jeffrey Kurtz remaining as priest-in-residence.

History of St. Agnes

On this webpage is a brief history of St. Agnes Parish which contains a compilation of excerpts from the Centennial Celebration booklet, the book, “A Walk Through The History of the Diocese of Marquette”, other similar books, and our own memories. It began with the discovery and mining of iron ore and the subsequent settlement of the area. 1883, Father Anatole Pelisson was given charge of the area with neither church or rectory. He resided in the homes of parishioners and said Mass in school buildings. In 1885, the first church was built to provide for the young and growing community. He was the first in a succession of priests to serve the spiritual needs of the Catholic communities. On September 1, 1898, Rev. James Lenhardt began his long pastorate and continued until his untimely death in 1934, murdered by a mentally unbalanced man outside of the rectory. In 1900, St. Agnes Parish, the mother church of the entire west side of Iron county, totaled 125 families, and served the villages and settlements of Iron River, Stambaugh, Saunders, Pentoga, Watersmeet, Atkinson Interior, and later Caspian and Gaastra. St. Agnes Parish continued to grow in membership and prosperity under Father Lenhart's leadership. In the midst of the Great Depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the parish was in debt, church and rectory were in need of repair, and the parish was in a state of decline. During that time Fr. George Dingfelder began the ardous task of restoring the well-being of St. Agnes. His partorate coincided with the World War II and the parish began to be reestablished, physically and spiritually. St Agnes School opened its doors in September of 1948 and welcomed over 100 children. In 1954 a fire destroyed the first St. Agnes Church but fortunately, it was rebuilt and the new church was dedicated in 1956. The Convent was completed in 1961, and a new rectory was completed in 1965. A widespread closing of the local iron mines in the 1960s and a subsequent decline in the economy of the area, together with the marked reduction of priests, had unfortunate affects on the church; and in 1970, St. Agnes School had to close its doors. With the closing of Assumption Church, Blessed Sacrament in Stambaugh, and St. Mary's in Gaastra; there remains only St. Agnes in Iron River and St. Cecilia's in Caspian. Father Norman Clisch was named Pastor of both churches. Many repairs and improvements were made during the pastorate of Father Norman Clisch from 2000 to 2011, until his retirement. The improvements have continued with the installation of Father Gregory Veneklase, who was named as Pastor/Administrator of St. Agnes and St. Cecilia on July 1, 2011. In addition, he was then given charge of the Sister Parish of Immaculate Conception in Watersmeet on July 1, 2019.

History of St. Cecilia

The settlement of Caspian began at the turn of the century and continued to grow. However, Gaastra was the larger community, so that is where Fr. James Lenhardt, pastor of St. Agnes, built a church to improve the spiritual needs of the area. Masses in those early days were held in Caspian at the Duke of Abruzzi Hall and the Calliari Opera House. ​There was a succession of priests and assistants until Father Herman Fadale arrived in 1950 in Gaastra. He was appointed Pastor of St. Cecilia with Gaastra as a Mission. In his appointment from Bishop Noa, it was stated that his main task would be the building of a church and rectory. Work began on June 9, 1951, and was completed on Palm Sunday, April 3, 1955. Bishop Noa blessed and dedicated the church on July 17, 1955. ​In 1981, Father Otto Sartorelli assumed his pastoral duties. His return to the Parish was exciting, as he is a native son. Father Sartorelli was born and raised in Gaastra, MI. He was appointed pastor of St. Cecilia Church, Caspian in 1981 and the combined churches of St. Cecilia and St. Mary’s, Gaastra in 1988. He retired in 2001. In 1985, due to the economy and shortage of priests, St. Cecilia consolidated with St. Mary’s of Gaastra. However, by the early 1950’s, records show that Caspian had about three times the Amount of parishioners in Caspian than in Gaastra. Many of the faithful in Gaastra joined with St. Cecilia when St. Mary’s church closed in 1988. Active ministries included the St. Anne Society, Holy Name Society, men's choir, mixed choir, and St Vincent De Paul Society. ​With Fr. Sartorelli's retirement, the parishes of St. Cecilia and St. Agnes combined, with Fr. Norman Clisch appointed pastor of both St. Cecilia and St. Agnes in Iron River. His pastorate continued until his retirement in 2011, when Father Gregory Veneklase was appointed administrator and pastor of both.
Iron River, Caspian, and Watersmeet, Michigan
Subscribe: Stay up to date with the latest news.
Fr. Greg awarded plaque from Knights of Columbus
Fr. Gregory Veneklase
Appointed pastor of St. Agnes, St. Cecilia from 2011 - 2021 with Immaculate Conception added in Watersmeet in 2019.
Fr. Greg's 25th anniversary
906-265-4557 | stagnesstcecilia@gmail.com St. Agnes, St. Cecilia, & Immaculate Conception Churches Website by North Country Website Design.

Our History

Fr. James Lenhart, Ph.D.

The the first photo was taken of Fr. James Lenhart, Ph.D. in front of the old St. Agnes Rectory. Upon his arrival here, Fr. Lenhart found the church without a sacristy or belfry, so he suggested building a new church with a projected cost of fifteen thousand dollars. The new St. Agnes church was dedicated on November 28, 1901, (This building burned down by a fire in 1954, then rebuilt and dedicated in 1956). Fr. Lenhart began his long pastorate of St. Agnes on September l, 1898 and continued for 37 years, until his death by murder in 1934.

1974 Father Brackett's Altar

Boy Servers

St. Cecilia's Church Back Row: Ernie Remondini, Chuck Butorac. Don Rizzardi, Larry Schiavo, Mark Shamion, Victor Fiorazo, Father Louis Brackett. Second row: Eugene Zorzin, Paul Aldegarie, Tony Fittante, Mike Cattani, Mike Fiorazo, Allan McLaine, Mike Kmichiek. Third Row: Frank Baker, Mark Fittante, Steve Benson, David Aregoni, Jim Atanasoff, Tom Kinney. Front Row: Bill Cataldo, Chris Haglund, Brian Pellizaro, Bob Watts, George Stiffe, Gene Bortolomeolli. Photo by Jack Cozzuol, Iron River, Michigan.

2016 Black Cow Event

October 8, 2016 at V.A. Hospital in Iron Mountain. The Black Cow Event is a quarterly event which serves veterans ice cream sodas and treats. Pictured above are Arthur Aregoni, Stewart Adair, Robert Remondini.

2013 St. Agnes Choir

Front row: left to right: Joyce Myefski. Paulette Davis, Jane Lombardini, Carol Brunswick. Second row: Charlotte Serena, Mary Wall, Gayle Cerney, Dennis Cerney, Bernice Pairolero, Melissa Powell. Third row: Ron Basso, Sue LaFountain, Terri Floriano, Nancy Clements, Carol Stanchina. Fourth row: Harold Nichols, Rose Watt, Tim Hines, Barb Martini, Sarah Townsend, Violinist, Luella AMbach, organist. Missing: Jane Townsend, pianist. Approximate year 2013.

2013 St. Cecilia Church Choir

Top Row: Don MacDonald, Jim Paul, Donna Capello, Gloria Ingold, Theresa Jacques, Klaryce Bilski. Middle Row: Michelle Wiegand, Delina Liptak, Donna Banks. Bottom Row: Stephanie Wiegand, Rosalie King Organist Katherine Kudlaty

2021 St. Agnes Church Choir

Christmas

1916 St. Agnes Mission

1934 Church of Saint Agnes

Mission

1948 St. Agnes Mission

1950 St. Agnes Mission

1910 Official Guide Booklet of

St. Agnes Church

1901 - 1951 Jubilee

Remembrance

1960 The Golden Jubilee

Father Hennelly’s 25th

Anniversary

1944 First Communion at the

Mother Church

St. Agnes, Iron River, MI, Fr. Eugene T. Hennelly, pastor Patricia Mahon, center, holding bouquet

St. Mary's of the Assumption

Wedding of Ramona Wodzinski and Robert Ross on September 1, 1947 at Assumption Church St. Mary's of the Assumption. Left to right: Tom Wall Fr. Polawski, Dan Wall. circa 1977 Final Mass at St. Mary's of the Assumption Church - Cheryl Zielinski Spencer, organist and directress. Luella AMbach, organist

St. Cecilia Martyr, Patroness

of Church Music

Feast Day: November 22 Born: Rome Major Shrine: Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome, Italy Patron of: Church music, great musicians, poets In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the Loves of Cecilia and Valerian, written, like those of Chrysanthus and Daria, Julian and Basilissa, in glorification of the virginal life, and with the purpose of taking the place of the sensual romances of Daphnis and Chloe, Chereas and Callirhoe, etc., which were then popular. The story of S. Cecilia is not without beauty and merit. There was in the city of Rome a virgin named Cecilia, who was given in marriage to a youth named Valerian. She wore sackcloth next to her skin, and fasted, and invoked the saints and angels and virgins, beseeching them to guard her virginity. And she said to her husband, "I will tell you a secret if you will swear not to reveal it to anyone." And when he swore, she added, "There is an angel who watches me, and wards off from me any who would touch me." He said, "Dearest, if this be true, show me the angel." "That can only be if you will believe in one God, and be baptized." She sent him to Pope S. Urban (223-230), who baptized him; and when he returned, he saw Cecilia praying in her chamber, and an angel by her with flaming wings, holding two crowns of roses and lilies, which he placed on their heads, and then vanished. Shortly after, Tibertius, the brother of Valerian, entered, and wondered at the fragrance and beauty of the flowers at that season of the year. When he heard the story of how they had obtained these crowns, he also consented to be baptized. After their baptism the two brothers devoted themselves to burying the martyrs slain daily by the prefect of the city, Turcius Almachius. [There was no prefect of that name.] They were arrested and brought before the prefect, and when they refused to sacrifice to the gods were executed with the sword. In the meantime, S. Cecilia, by preaching had converted four hundred persons, whom Pope Urban forthwith baptized. Then Cecilia was arrested, and condemned to be suffocated in the baths. She was shut in for a night and a day, and the fires were heaped up, and made to glow and roar their utmost, but Cecilia did not even break out into perspiration through the heat. When Almachius heard this he sent an executioner to cut off her head in the bath. The man struck thrice without being able to sever the head from the trunk. He left her bleeding, and she lived three days. Crowds came to her, and collected her blood with napkins and sponges, whilst she preached to them or prayed. At the end of that period she died, and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons. St. Cecilia is regarded as the patroness of music [because of the story that she heard heavenly music in her heart when she was married], and is represented in art with an organ or organ-pipes in her hand. From Baring-Gould, M.A., Rev. S. “The Lives of the Saints”, published in 1914 in Edinburgh. Source: www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=34

History of Immaculate

Conception

Started as a mission of Ewen in the 1880s, Immaculate Conception Parish in Watersmeet has been independent since 1916. The first resident pastor arrived in 1916. The original church was built around 1890 and the rectory in 1916. Father Samuel Bottoni, began his long 44-year pastorate from 1952 to 1996 and led the parish in construction of a modern church building. The original church and rectory were moved eight miles south to Camp Plagens on the shore of Moon Lake. The new church was dedicated July 7, 1956. Camp Plagens was located at the northeast end of the lake. The camp was originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. It was used as a winter training camp for troops during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Camp Plagens was later donated to the Diocese of Marquette and was used as a summer camp for youth until the middle 1970s. Father Samuel Battoni continued to hold Saturday evening and Sunday evening Catholic masses at Camp Plagens in St. John’s Chapel until the mid 1990s. Shortly after Father Battoni’s death in 1995, the camp was sold to the Lac Vieux Desert tribe in Watersmeet. In the spring of 2003, the tribe received a grant to restore one barracks building and the chapel for use as a historical museum. On July 1, 2019, Bishop John Doerffler joined Immaculate Conception Church to the parishes of St. Agnes in Iron River and St. Cecilia in Caspian. Fr. Gregory Veneklase was assigned as Pastor/Administrator, with Fr Jeffrey Kurtz remaining as priest-in-residence.

History of St. Agnes

On this webpage is a brief history of St. Agnes Parish which contains a compilation of excerpts from the Centennial Celebration booklet, the book, “A Walk Through The History of the Diocese of Marquette”, other similar books, and our own memories. It began with the discovery and mining of iron ore and the subsequent settlement of the area. 1883, Father Anatole Pelisson was given charge of the area with neither church or rectory. He resided in the homes of parishioners and said Mass in school buildings. In 1885, the first church was built to provide for the young and growing community. He was the first in a succession of priests to serve the spiritual needs of the Catholic communities. On September 1, 1898, Rev. James Lenhardt began his long pastorate and continued until his untimely death in 1934, murdered by a mentally unbalanced man outside of the rectory. In 1900, St. Agnes Parish, the mother church of the entire west side of Iron county, totaled 125 families, and served the villages and settlements of Iron River, Stambaugh, Saunders, Pentoga, Watersmeet, Atkinson Interior, and later Caspian and Gaastra. St. Agnes Parish continued to grow in membership and prosperity under Father Lenhart's leadership. In the midst of the Great Depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the parish was in debt, church and rectory were in need of repair, and the parish was in a state of decline. During that time Fr. George Dingfelder began the ardous task of restoring the well-being of St. Agnes. His partorate coincided with the World War II and the parish began to be reestablished, physically and spiritually. St Agnes School opened its doors in September of 1948 and welcomed over 100 children. In 1954 a fire destroyed the first St. Agnes Church but fortunately, it was rebuilt and the new church was dedicated in 1956. The Convent was completed in 1961, and a new rectory was completed in 1965. A widespread closing of the local iron mines in the 1960s and a subsequent decline in the economy of the area, together with the marked reduction of priests, had unfortunate affects on the church; and in 1970, St. Agnes School had to close its doors. With the closing of Assumption Church, Blessed Sacrament in Stambaugh, and St. Mary's in Gaastra; there remains only St. Agnes in Iron River and St. Cecilia's in Caspian. Father Norman Clisch was named Pastor of both churches. Many repairs and improvements were made during the pastorate of Father Norman Clisch from 2000 to 2011, until his retirement. The improvements have continued with the installation of Father Gregory Veneklase, who was named as Pastor/Administrator of St. Agnes and St. Cecilia on July 1, 2011. In addition, he was then given charge of the Sister Parish of Immaculate Conception in Watersmeet on July 1, 2019.

History of St. Cecilia

The settlement of Caspian began at the turn of the century and continued to grow. However, Gaastra was the larger community, so that is where Fr. James Lenhardt, pastor of St. Agnes, built a church to improve the spiritual needs of the area. Masses in those early days were held in Caspian at the Duke of Abruzzi Hall and the Calliari Opera House. ​There was a succession of priests and assistants until Father Herman Fadale arrived in 1950 in Gaastra. He was appointed Pastor of St. Cecilia with Gaastra as a Mission. In his appointment from Bishop Noa, it was stated that his main task would be the building of a church and rectory. Work began on June 9, 1951, and was completed on Palm Sunday, April 3, 1955. Bishop Noa blessed and dedicated the church on July 17, 1955. ​In 1981, Father Otto Sartorelli assumed his pastoral duties. His return to the Parish was exciting, as he is a native son. Father Sartorelli was born and raised in Gaastra, MI. He was appointed pastor of St. Cecilia Church, Caspian in 1981 and the combined churches of St. Cecilia and St. Mary’s, Gaastra in 1988. He retired in 2001. In 1985, due to the economy and shortage of priests, St. Cecilia consolidated with St. Mary’s of Gaastra. However, by the early 1950’s, records show that Caspian had about three times the Amount of parishioners in Caspian than in Gaastra. Many of the faithful in Gaastra joined with St. Cecilia when St. Mary’s church closed in 1988. Active ministries included the St. Anne Society, Holy Name Society, men's choir, mixed choir, and St Vincent De Paul Society. ​With Fr. Sartorelli's retirement, the parishes of St. Cecilia and St. Agnes combined, with Fr. Norman Clisch appointed pastor of both St. Cecilia and St. Agnes in Iron River. His pastorate continued until his retirement in 2011, when Father Gregory Veneklase was appointed administrator and pastor of both.
Iron River, Caspian, & Watersmeet, MI
Subscribe: Stay up to date with the latest news.
Fr. Gregory Veneklase
Appointed pastor of St. Agnes, St. Cecilia from 2011 - 2021 with Immaculate Conception added in Watersmeet in 2019.
Fr. Greg awarded plaque from Knights of Columbus
Fr. Greg's 25th anniversary