Since the 1857, Catholics from the Cleveland area met to pray, celebrate Mass and express their faith, often at the home of Peter McCabe.  Times were difficult however, and Jesuit missionaries were only occasionally able to pass through the area to celebrate Mass. 

Despite a long struggle the Catholic  pioneers were determined and tenacious. They continued to pursue their dream of having a church and priest of their own. Finally, with a new church and residence,  local pioneers incorporated as the Church of the Nativity in 1882.



Since that time, the Nativity parish community has retained a unique and highly respected identity integral to the town of Cleveland. Church records highlight these most significant events:

1857: Documentation of Catholics in the area gathering for prayers and Mass at the home of Peter McCabe.

1862: Father Somereisen and other Jesuit missionaries became established in St. Paul and began travelling to the area to say Mass and perform sacraments.

1865: The first officially documented meeting to establish a parish in Cleveland. Rev. Jobn Zuzek, based at St. Peter, became Nativity’s first pastor (1865-78.)

1866: Pledges were initiated for the new church and construction began. The church was built on the corner of 2nd Street and Main.

1866, September 9: Nativity Church has it’s first baptism in the new parish, Mary Ann Lambert.

1866, December 28: The church had it’s first burial of Catherine Cashin.

1878: The first resident pastor was assigned to the church, Reverend J. Tori, 1878-79.  Calvary Cemetery was established and the first burial was Patrick McCabe.

1879: The first parish residence was built on a lot to the immediate north of the church.

1882, November 22: The Church was incorporated as The Church of the Nativity.

1887  June 24: Nativity parishioner, Patrick J. McCabe, was ordained as a priest.

         July 3: Father Patrick J. McCabe celebrated his first Mass at Nativity Church.

1893: A new frame church was erected under Father Patrick Carey. It was located on the same site as the first church. The first marriage in the new church was of George Rice and Jane Keogh.

1908: The first parish residence was sold for $125 and moved one block north and one-half block west.

1923: Church building was moved about fifteen feet north and a basement was added.

1934: Father Thomas Mullane arrived; the first resident priest since 1887.

1942: Nativity Pastor, Rev. Joseph Esser left the area when he reported for military duty as a Chaplain in the U. S. Army.

1945: A new residence was built.

1950: Pads were installed on kneeling benches in the church.      

1954: The church basement was remodeled.

1960: An office was added to the parish residence.

1967: Land was purchased for a new church.

1977, December 11: The new (current) church was built and dedicated.

1978: A new residence was completed on First Street.

1981: The current bell tower was built.

1985: The debt on the new church was paid in full, only eight years after construction.

1998: Nativity Church began sharing a parish office and staff with the Immaculate Conception of Marysburg.

2000: November 18:  Cory J. Rohlfing, parishioner and son of Jim and Julie Rohlfing, was ordained in the Order of Deacons.

2001: May 26: Cory J. Rohlfing was ordained to the Priesthood.
         May 27: Fr. Cory J. Rohlfing celebrated his first Mass at the Church of the Nativity