St. Maria Goretti parish was founded by Bishop William P. O’Connor, the first bishop of the Diocese of Madison. On June 12, 1959, Father Wilfred J. Schuster was named as founding pastor. At that time, the parish served approximately 200 families, and Masses were held in the Edgewood High School auditorium. When school began in the fall, the early Mass was moved to the basement of the rectory at 1613 Gilbert Road. The later morning Mass was celebrated in the Edgewood College chapel.
In 1961, the St. Maria Goretti Parish Center (the original school hall) was built on the corner of Gilbert Road and Flad Avenue. Chicago artist Carl Merschel created the glazed ceramic cross above the altar. Madison artist Fritz Carpenter of Stefan Mittler monuments fashioned a stone plaque of St. Maria Goretti inside the main entrance. The dining hall was available for meetings and dinners. The first Mass was celebrated in the new Parish Center on April 30, 1961. Formal dedication ceremonies were held on June 18, 1961.
In 1964, the library and office areas of the Parish Center were divided into classrooms and the building was remodeled with new offices, a lounge and a library. Four sisters from the order of Oblates to Divine Love (now known as Sister Oblates to the Blessed Trinity) came from New York and were the school’s first teachers. St. Maria Goretti School opened in 1964 with 87 students in grades 3 through 5. Eight classrooms were added in 1965, serving grades 3 through 6. Grade 7 was added in 1966, grade 8 in 1967, grades 1 and 2 in 1968 and finally kindergarten in 1980. A new rectory was built on Maria Place in 1986 to house the priests and the parish offices.
On July 12, 1992, ground was broken for the new hilltop church building, with construction beginning later that month. The church was completed approximately one year later. Dedication ceremonies were held on June 27, 1993. The church had a seating capacity of 850. The cross in the sanctuary was constructed by the Conrad Schmitt Studio of Milwaukee. The figure of Christ was hand carved in Italy and then transported to Milwaukee where the crucifix was completed. The church exterior features a 93.5-foot tall bell tower.
In July, 1996, Father Michael Burke was named pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish. He has developed a professional staff, both paid and volunteer, to assist with the daily operation of the parish. This includes two sisters from the Congregation of St. Agnes, and one sister from Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order Franciscan.
Stained glass windows depicting the Stations of the Cross were installed in February, 1999, also by Conrad Schmitt Studios. A new outdoor parish sign was installed in December, 1999.
In January 2000, a five-year strategic planning process was initiated to study needed expansion of the church and school. A capital campaign began and ground was broken for Phase I expansion of the church gathering area, increased seating, an eight classroom addition to the school and the construction of a new gym in April 2003.
In the Fall of 2005, Phase II of construction began. This included conversion of Marian Hall into more church seating and meeting rooms; the construction of the parish hall and offices; and construction of administrative offices in the school along with rooms for the pre-school and religious education programs. Construction was completed in December 2006. The church now seats 1,225. Blessing of the new and renovated facilities was held on July 8, 2007, with Bishop Robert C. Morlino.
On October 15-16, 2015, the relics of St. Maria Goretti were in our church as part of the "Pilgrimage of Mercy: Tour of the Major Relics of St. Maria Goretti." More than 13,500 people traveled from around the country to venerate her remains; it was transforming 24-hour period in our parish. Read more and see a video about the visit of Maria's relics here.
Rev. Msgr. Michael Burke retired July 15, 2017, and Rev. Robert Evenson was assigned as our parochial administrator/pastor for a period of one year.