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The beautiful, rolling green hills and fields of the Kettle Moraine attracted many settlers from Germany to this area in the mid 1800’s, especially since the similarity of the terrain to their native land made them feel at home. Establishing farms and businesses near the developing commercial hub of Schleisingerville, these early people of faith welcomed missionary priests who occasionally passed that way on horseback into their homes to celebrate Mass and other Sacraments. Anecdotal history mentions that a log cabin chapel on the rise south of Hwy 60 above the juncture of Sherman and Scenic Roads may have served as such a meeting place from about 1850 – 1853. Fr. Casper Rehrl was one of those great “circuit-rider” missionaries who helped establish St. Peter’s along with 29 other parishes in Washington and surrounding counties, most of which are still in existence. Since Catholic schools were a vital component of parish life in our young country, religious sisters were needed to teach the children. Fr. Rehrl is credited with establishing the Sisters of St. Agnes in Barton in 1858. Remnants of the original convent are still preserved on Water Tower Hill in Barton. The Agnesian motherhouse was moved to Fond du Lac in 1870. In 1856, a small log church was erected on the present site (land which had been the Engelhardt farm) and the congregation was served as a mission from St. Lawrence and Barton. This method of visitation continued until 1870. Upon searching the records of Immaculate Conception (St. Mary’s) in Barton, there are no entries of sacramental ministry at the mission of St. Peter, Schleisingerville, in their registers from 1856-1870. While priests from that parish may have assisted here, a more regular relationship existed with the St. Lawrence parish as entries for the mission at St. Peter’s appear in baptismal and death registers beginning in 1866. The records of earlier years are very faint and entry format at that time made no mention of cities. In the years 1866 – 1869, there were 9 baptisms, 7 funerals – no entries for weddings – at the mission of St. Peter’s. 1870 saw 20 baptisms, a wedding (9 in 1871), 4 funerals (13 in 1871), all attesting to steady growth in the village and need for a resident pastor. Fr. Peter Mutz built the first rectory and thus became the first resident pastor in 1870. Why the name St. Peter’s for the then very new parish? Like Rome, City of Seven Hills (Quirinal, Viminal, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Caelian and Aventine – Vatican Hill was first “annexed” to the original plat of Rome by Augustus Caesar), resting place of our first Pope, St. Peter, after martyrdom in c.64AD, atop whose remains a magnificent church in witness to his rock-solid faith was built, our Village of Slinger (name shortened in 1921) was and is a village of seven hills, primarily named after farm families who first settled the area. Their names/locations are best approximated as follows: Bautzerberg Hill (above Held’s Meat Market near Hwys 144 & 41), Yankee Hill (site of water tower directly across Hwy 175 from church), Schwendimann Hill (just off Hwy 60 on the way to Hartford, east of Powder Hill Road and its’ new subdivision), Nehm’s Hill (aka: Big Hill, now Schlesinger Village subdivision), Rosenheimer Hill (now Ski View Court), and Pencil Peak (former Beine farm, now Weyer subdivision). The rocksolid faith of the early, pioneering Catholics to our area wanted it known that their church and our faith were here to stay! A 2-story brick school was built near the church in 1881/1882, heated with pot bellied stoves. The School Sisters of St. Francis came to teach, continuing their services here until 1991. The core of the present church was begun in 1892. The 113 X 49 foot cream-city brick structure was built at a cost of $19,300 and dedicated/blessed on May 1,1893 by Archbishop Katzer (he administered the sacrament of confirmation to 78 parishioners that same day). The church was described in The Catholic Church in Wisconsin (1895-1898 Milwaukee, WI) as follows: “The pews are handsome as well as comfortable, and the interior of the church is adorned throughout with fresco work. In the basement of the church is a nice chapel, used occasionally for services. The congregation is now composed of 154 families, and the school connected with it has an attendance of 120 scholars. A Married Ladies Society, established in 1892, St. Mary’s Society, organized in 1894, and St. Peter’s Benevolent Society, are the only Catholic organizations connected with St. Peter’s. The Rev. Charles Grobschmidt, present pastor, was born in Luxemburg, Germany on December 16, 1854, came to the United States in 1868, and studied for the priesthood at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, ordained by Bishop John M. Henni on June 4, 1877.” Long recognized as a local landmark, the 4- sided steeple clock and bell tower rises 138 ft. above the village. Three melodious bells sound from the tower. The large & middle bells were cast in 1886 by Henry Stuckstede Bell Foundry located in St. Louis, Missouri, installed in 1892; the small bell was added in 1915. Illuminated since 1992, our steeple clock and bell tower is a classic beauty. Designed to inspire awe and a sense of spiritual uplift, three majestic altars grace our sanctuary, surrounding as focal point the altar of Sacrifice. Hand-carved of cherry and walnut woods, decorated in a style reminiscent of the lovely churches our European ancestors remembered, they remain both treasured works of art and lovely inspirations for faith. Gracing them are the original plaster statues which came from Munich, Germany in 1892. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Apostles Ss. Peter and Paul, and 2 adoring angels flanking them on pedestals, adorn the back altar. A side altar highlights Mary, Mother of God (statue donated in June, 1993, having been purchased in Rome), flanked by Ss. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231), patron of the poor, and Barbara (4th century), an early martyr. The other side altar presents St. Joseph (1st century), patron of the Universal Church, workers, and of a happy death, flanked by Ss. Boniface (672-754), apostle to Germany, and Aloysius Gonzaga (1568-1591), patron of youth and purity. In 1950, Fr. George Jentges acquired the beautiful statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (carved in Fatima, Portugal by Jose Thedim, creator of the famed Pilgrim Virgin statue then touring America), often called Our Lady of Fatima and now located in our alcove shrine. 14 original oil paintings of European origin form our Stations of the Cross, framed in motifs matching the craftsmanship of our altars. These frames, previously removed, were saved by parish members (notably Tom Thoma and Ted Kern), and restored/illuminated during 1992’s redecoration and renovation project. Eight of our ten original stained glass windows remain, the Annunciation to the Blessed Mother (near left side altar) and the Ascension of Our Lord (near right side alter were added in1992), fashioned by the Oakbrook-Esser Studios of Oconomowoc, WI. Music has always been a vital part of worship for us. Since the summer of 1919, we have enjoyed the wonderful sounds of a romantic pipe organ that was made and installed for us by the then B. Schaefer & Sons Organ Co. of Schleisingerville, WI, for the sum of $2,900, minus a $400 allowance for the old/original organ, and a $500 donation from Schaefer Organ Co. The first wedding in the new church in the fall of 1892 was for Mary Merten and Frank Schaefer of that family! For 50 years (1941-1991) it was ably played by Sr. Romilda Simon – teacher, conductor, and liturgist. In 1993 the organ was restored/rejuvenated and given 3 additional sets of pipes as well as a more classic sound, an effort far more costly than its’ original price tag! In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the building of the present church, beginning in fall of 1992 and completed in summer of 1993, then pastor Fr. Robert Bales saw to many repairs, renovations and significant additions to our church – a 30 X 40 foot 2-story addition with covered entrance, elevator, new sacristy, offices, reconciliation chapel, shrine alcove, a new northeast stairway exit, new doors and sound system, new lighting, carpeting, sanctuary furniture and pulpit, repainting, restoration of altars and statuary, attention to choir loft and main seating accommodations, exterior brick repairs and cleaning, major structural improvements, etc. Due to efforts made then, so many guests and visitors compliment the holiness and beauty of our worship space. Since then St. Peter’s and this part of Washington County has become the fastest growing area in Wisconsin, seeing population increase by well over 100% since 1980, and projecting continuing population increase for many a year to come, all this as the Milwaukee Archdiocese is being affected by a continuing decline in the number of active, available priests to serve our parishes. In the interest of future planning for both the ministries and facilities that may be needed to serve the increasing Catholic population of our village and area, Fr. Rick Stoffel, our present pastor, helped initiate a process for future planning in collaboration with our neighbor parishes in Allenton (Resurrection), and St. Lawrence. It is our fond prayer and deepest desire that these efforts, begun in 2003, be guided by the same wisdom and prudence, imagination coupled with fidelity, as characterized our ancestors. They have given us a firm foundation, but unless the Lord builds the house, in vain do we labor. Continue, Lord, to build us up in faith, hope and love as we, like those before, strive to bring your Gospel and Eucharist to future generations. You, O Lord, have led us well for 150 years; do, dear Lord, the same now and always.