History of Three Holy Women Catholic Parish

Three Holy Women Parish was incorporated as a brand new entity on Milwaukee’s East Side on July 1, 2000. It embraces three neighboring parishes each previously flourishing for more than a century. The three holy women are the patron saints of the three original institutions; Holy Rosary Church, dedicated to Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary; St. Hedwig Church, honoring Hedwig, Queen of Poland 1384-1399; and St. Rita of Cascia, a nun of the Augustinian order. In order to understand the significance of this new parish, we need to consider the history of its predecessors.

Holy Rosary Church

Holy Rosary Church at 2011 N. Oakland Avenue was built in 1885 in a blend of Queen Anne, Stick Style and Romanesque architectural styles. Extensive renovations have taken place since 1986. Though not intended for any particular ethnic group, through the years it acquired an Irish identity. It operated an elementary school, grades 1-8, from 1885 to 1982 which was guided by the BVM sisters.

Saint Hedwig Church

Saint Hedwig Church at 1702 N. Humboldt Avenue is an 1887 structure of Gothic and Romanesque styles. It replaced a much more modest wooden structure originally built on Franklin Place where Mass was first celebrated on October 17, 1871. It was erected for and by the Polish inhabitants of the city. An elementary school, grades 1-8, was part of this parish also. It flourished under the loving care of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The present edifice stands in a recently revived community of homes and small businesses known as the Brady Street neighborhood.

Saint Rita Church

Saint Rita Church at 1601 N. Cass Street began in 1933 as a “mission” outpost of the old Italian parish, the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. Its basement church was blessed as a new independent parish in 1937. The present building was erected and blessed in 1939. From the beginning, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida Thouret tended to children’s needs in this parish, and by 1937 were operating a school.