In the 1950’s, the Big Lake community experienced the growth of farms, businesses and people. A parish of Catholic residents was born when 47 Catholic families made a leap of faith and purchased land in 1955 and founded a parish in 1958.
After encouragement from diocesan officials and approval of Bishop Peter W. Bartholome, a loan was secured, a rectory purchased and building plans finalized for a 40 x 100 foot, above-ground structure (with a full basement) at an approximate cost of $100,000.
Looking back on those plans, those founding families and the sacrifices made, the story of the beginnings of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church was called: the Miracle of 1958.
The founding families worked together to build both a church building and a community of faith, providing construction labor, food and encouragement. There were 80 families in the parish when the community gathered to dedicate the new church on November 23, 1958.
Growth of the parish made more space necessary and an annex to the original building was designed and built in 1973. Lower level facilities added much needed classroom space, social area, and storage. The stained glass windows in the nave were designed to represent the seven sacraments. The “pieta” window in the sanctuary was installed in 1977; all made possible by donations from parishioners. The cemetery added a similar pieta shrine in 1987.
Parish improvements continued over the years. The annex was renovated and the former rectory was replaced with a new pastor’s residence in 1997. The parish was then at 600 households. In the Jubilee Year 2000, the parish completed an elevator project, making the building accessible to people with special needs, providing a ground level entry and access to both the worship area and lower levels.
The rapidly growing corridor on Highway 10 holds continued promise of the expansion and rapid growth. The “Miracle of 1958” continues to bring growth and blessings to the People of God of this parish community in the 21st century and beyond. There were 750 registered families in Our Lady of the Lake Parish in 2002.
In May 2012, the parishes of Immaculate Conception in Becker and Our Lady of the Lake in Big Lake were merged into one large faith community and renamed The Church of Mary of the Visitation. The number of families is currently around 1,200.
Priests who have served Our Lady of the Lake
and now Mary of the Visitation
1958-1968 . . Father Joseph Linn
1968-1968 . . Father John Kroll
1968-1969 . . Father Leo Revering
1969-1981 . . Father Ray Ringwelski
1981-1995 . . Father Richard Wey
1995-1999 . . Father Nic Dressen
1999-2005 . . Father Ralph Zimmerman
Present . . ...Father Gene Doyle