The foundation of Gesu Parish dates back to 1849, just three years after Milwaukee was incorporated as a city. Originally named St. Gall’s Church, it was established to serve English-speaking people of Irish heritage in the city. In 1855, the bishop offered St. Gall’s to the Jesuits in the hope that they would develop schools and colleges in the area. The Society of Jesus accepted and began a thriving parochial ministry in Milwaukee.
By 1890 the Jesuits were operating St. Gall’s Parish, Holy Name Parish, four grade schools and Marquette College. Plans were made to unite the two Jesuit parishes into Gesu Parish, and the new church was completed in 1894. The Gothic church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Milwaukee Landmark in 1975.
Gesu Parish offers a range of ministries allowing parishioners to participate in the mission of the church. Its Health Ministry includes a Sanctity of Life Working Group whose efforts include end-of-life care and planning, baby supply collection for the Women’s Care Center of Milwaukee and the “No One Dies Alone” ministry in partnership with a local health care organization.
In 2002, Gesu Parish twinned with St. Jude in Mon Opital, Haiti. The twinning is a mutual, spiritual, cultural and economic relationship between the two faith communities. Gesu Parish plans two cultural immersion visits to Haiti each year.