St. Francis has a reputation for being a diverse community. That is not true only for the present. Our history reveals a long tradition of diversity and acceptance of many peoples.
For example, in 1916, St. Francis became the center for Catholic Hungarians in Milwaukee. A Mass in Hungarian was offered to the people after the regular schedule of Sunday Masses. A Hungarian priest, Fr. Bognar, who was not a Capuchin, came to St. Francis to celebrate the Mass for the Hungarian people gathered together.
The building across the street from the church at 1916 N. Phillips Avenue is presently occupied by the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. The building was constructed in 1925. It was built as a Social Center where young people could engage in activities such as bowling or basketball and develop a closer tie with the church.
Last week, I spoke a little bit about the strong German culture here at St. Francis and in Milwaukee that became an issue in American society in the early 20th century. Milwaukee has a strong history of socialism which largely came from German industrial workers here in the city.
St. Francis Parish has had a rich history in serving the poor. World War I proved to be no exception, especially in serving the poor of Europe after the war ended. The nations of Europe were in ruins after the war. For these countries which had produced many immigrants to the United States, Pope Benedict XV asked for help.