'Really an honor:' Church of the Gesu celebrates 125-year legacy of worship, service

MILWAUKEE -- It's a landmark in downtown Milwaukee, and a focal point on the Marquette University campus. The Church of the Gesu has been a part of Milwaukee's landscape for many years, but 2019 is a special one for the place of worship.

From behind the altar and into the pews, Gesu Pastor Fr. Jim Flaherty walked among parishioners Sunday, Jan. 27, reading a newspaper excerpt acknowledging the formation of the church.

"Today is holy to the Lord," said Fr. Flaherty. "125 years ago, the members and parishes of St. Paul and Holy Name merged to become Gesu Parish."

A new parish formed, and Sunday was a celebration of that.

"It's really an honor for us to be involved in commemorating that 100+ years of service," said Tom Luljak. "It's a remarkable building. It is in great shape."

The windows at the church are especially noteworthy. There was a special blessing of the 61 Munich-style stained glass windows that adorn the church. They were recently refurbished.

"The architecture of the church -- its vaulting, ceilings -- remind us of the transcendence of our God," said Fr. Flaherty. "It's a wonderful place to worship, reside and preach in."

The church is a destination for people all over southeast Wisconsin.

Fr. Jim Flaherty

"Not only is it a strong building, but the people here are all of strong faith, and that is inspiring every week," said Luljak. "The church really is a church. It's got a mission of serving people."

With a history of community outreach and programs promoting social justice, this home of worship will be honored all year long.

Tom Luljak

"I hope that 125 years from now, people will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of Gesu and look back at the same level of engagement, involvement, and worship and service that has been going on here for the first 125 years," said Luljak.

In the coming months, the church will host a special Mass series celebrated by priests who have previously served at the church. The 125th anniversary year will conclude in November, with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jerome Listecki.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Church of the Gesu, including a complete list of 125th anniversary events.