Parish History

In 1971, Fr Andrew Nelson of Sacred Heart Parish met with six families in the Westhaven area of Oshkosh to
begin discussion of starting a new parish west of Highway 41. In 1972 Bishop Aloysius Wycislo authorized the
establishment of a new parish. Fr. David Barrett was assigned to provide service for the community, called
Good Samaritan Catholic Community. Fr. Barrett celebrated the first Mass for the Good Samaritan
community, which at that time was considered a mission church, on April 15, 1972. The Mass was celebrated
at Calvary Lutheran Church on 9 th Avenue, just down the road from our present facility, with about 30 people in
attendance. The following week the community consisted of twelve families. In 1976 Fr. Andrew Nelson was
assigned to replace Fr. Barrett as a part-time pastor. Shortly after his arrival, membership had grown to one
hundred families. Fr Nelson notified the Bishop that the Good Samaritan community was looking to purchase
land to build their own facility.

In 1978 Bishop Wycislo granted the community parish status and requested the name Good Samaritan be
changed to St. Raphael the Archangel. The nucleus of the new parish was the community of Westhaven.
Fr. Robert Groher was appointed the first full-time pastor of the new St. Raphael the Archangel Parish. In
1979 Fr. Joseph Bestler replaced Fr. Groher as pastor.

In 1980 St. Raphael the Archangel Parish was civilly incorporated and in 1983 Fr. Gerald Foley replaced Fr.
Bestler as pastor. 1984 found the parish celebrating weekend Masses at Calvary Lutheran Church and
Oakwood School. Religious Education classes were held at Lourdes High School. The Feast of the Epiphany in
1985 marked the kick-off of the Capital Campaign for the new church building to be built on West 9 th Avenue
(the present Good Shepard Lutheran site). The goal of the campaign was to raise $210,000 in pledges from the
200 families that made up the parish community. In 1987 the new facility was dedicated by Bishop Adam

1991 brought another new pastor, Fr. Daniel Felton. In 1992 the church was sold to Good Shepherd Lutheran
community, and plans were made for a new and larger facility to be built on Westhaven Drive. April of 1993
brought a new Capital Campaign Drive with 1,100 families in the parish. On October 8, 1994 the first Mass was
celebrated in the new building and the parish declared a re-dedication to God. On October 1, 1995 the new
church facility was dedicated by Bishop Robert Banks. The parish had grown to 1,375 families. In 1997 St.
Raphael became a full member in the Unified Catholic School System, which would later be called Lourdes
Academy for its PreK to grade 12 Catholic Schools. In 2003 St. Raphael the Archangel celebrated its 25 th
Anniversary as an established parish, having grown to 2,800 families.

In 2005 Fr. Felton was reassigned, and Fr. Douglas LeCaptain was named the new pastor. A few months later
Fr. Carl Schmitt (newly ordained) was assigned as an Associate Pastor. In 2006, Greg Grey was ordained a
permanent deacon and began serving the parish, with John Ingala doing the same three years later. In 2007,
Sr. Pamela Biehl, after serving St. Raphael for 13 years, was appointed Parish Director of St. Mary Parishes in
Omro and Winneconne. At that time, priests from St. Raphael began serving as priest celebrants in Omro and
Winneconne. The parish began receiving newly ordained priests who would stay for two or three years. These
included Fr. Jason Blahnik (2008), Fr. Luke Ferris (2011), Fr. Michael Warden (2013), and Fr. Edward Looney
(2015). In 2017 Paul Vidmar was ordained a permanent deacon, and would serve St. Raphael until being
reassigned to the parishes in Omro and Winneconne four years later.

In 2017 Fr Tom Long began serving as Pastor and Fr. Matthew Rappl as Parochial Vicar, followed by Fr. Anil
Polamari (2019), Fr. Kevin Ripley (2020), and Fr. Quinn Mann (2023). Mark Leafgren was ordained a permanent deacon in 2021. On
May 20, 2021, former Pastor Fr. Daniel Felton was ordained and installed as Bishop of Duluth, MN. In 2022 the
community celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first Mass and Lourdes Academy, the Catholic school system
of Oshkosh, completed an expansion and renovation project, bringing students from 4K through grade 12 onto
its campus at 110 N. Sawyer Street.