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St. Mary of the Visitation Parish was founded in 1849 in Marytown, Wisconsin. The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes began teaching at the school and playing the church organ in 1865. The sisters served there until 1895 and again from 1910 to 1988. In 1969, the school merged with three other area schools to form Consolidated Parochial Elementary School, now known as Holyland Catholic School.


  • St. Mary of the Visitation church and rectory prior to the 1907 fire.
  • St. Mary of the Visitation Church and rectory after the 1907 fire.
  • Interior of St. Mary of the Visitation Church.
  • St. Mary of the Visitation School, 1940s.
  • St. Mary of the Visitation Church, 2020.

In 1849, residents of Marytown received approval from Archbishop Martin Henni to establish a parish which they called St. Mary of the Visitation. Mathias Burg donated 60 acres to the church, approximately 45 of which were sold to area residents. Parishioners erected a log church and Reverend Fabian Bermadinger, OFM Cap., became the first resident pastor. A year later, Father Caspar Rehrl, founder of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, took over the role. New priests cycled into the small parish about every year or two into the 1890s.

The Sisters of St. Agnes began teaching at the parish school in 1865, one year after 17-year-old Mother Agnes Hazotte had been elected superior general of the congregation. Mother Agnes taught school and catechism at Visitation and performed as the church organist until 1869 when she returned to the motherhouse in Barton. The School Sisters of St. Francis took over at Marytown in 1895, but the Sisters of St. Agnes returned in 1910 and stayed until 1988, when they closed their mission there.

In 1907, a fire started in the chimney of the convent and spread to the church roof, rectory, and several nearby residences. The church walls had withstood the flames, so the building was reconstructed by Hutter Construction Company. 

In 1918, a new school and convent, built by George Hayes, was financed through a variety of fundraising efforts. In 1954, a new convent was built, and in 1957 room was made in the school to accommodate first- and second-graders whom the sisters had been teaching in the public school. 

In early 1969, Sister DeMontfort Barta, Principal of Visitation School, voiced her concern about declining enrollments and the lack of available teachers in rural areas. She and concerned parents formed a committee which promoted merging area schools including St. John the Baptist in Johnsburg, St. Claudius in St. Cloud, and Holy Cross in Mt. Calvary to create Consolidated Parochial Elementary School (CPES). The school, now spread among four separate buildings, opened in the fall of 1969. Visitation and Holy Cross educated the primary grade students while the middle and junior high students attended classes in the other buildings. St. Ann School in St. Anna was a member of CPES from 1970 to 1985. Several Sisters of St. Agnes served as administrator of CPES from its founding until 1980. In 2015, CPES changed its name to Holyland Catholic School.

25 Years of CPES History, 1994.

Centennial Jubilee 1849-1949: St. Mary's of the Visitation Parish, Marytown, Wisconsin, 1949.

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Centennial Jubilee 1849-1949: St. Mary's of the Visitation Parish, Marytown, Wisconsin, 1949.

Centennial Jubilee 1849-1949: St. Mary's of the Visitation Parish, Marytown, Wisconsin, 1949.

Centennial Jubilee 1849-1949: St. Mary's of the Visitation Parish, Marytown, Wisconsin, 1949.

Centennial Jubilee 1849-1949: St. Mary's of the Visitation Parish, Marytown, Wisconsin, 1949.

Sister Jean Hinderer, CSA