Our History

In the early 1920's, a small village known as Ives was located north of the city of Racine on Douglas Avenue.  The village was a wild town known for taverns and gambling dens.  In 1925, Augustinian priests and brothers arrived, and they forever changed the nature of Ives.  They purchased what had been a bowling alley and later a cabbage warehouse, and they converted it into a chapel on the first floor and a monastery on the second.  The building was dedicated on August 29, 1926.  South of the chapel / monastery stood Ives Inn, a tavern which constantly ran afoul of the prohibition laws and was a hotbed of crime and vice.  The Augustinians purchased the building and converted it into a parish hall.  The Ives Hotel, another establishment known for the illegal sale of alcoholic beverages adjoined the chapel / monastery to the north.  The Augustinians also purchased this building and in September, 1929, St. Rita School opened with seventy pupils under the direction of two Dominican sisters from St. Catherine's Convent.  The parishioners came from fifteen different nationalities, and the first pastor, Father Alpius Reuter, worked in nine languages to communicate with his people.  Through the efforts of Father Reuter, the name of the area was changed from Ives to St. Rita.

Over time, the parish steadily grew, as well as the number of priests and brothers in the Order.  To accommodate everyone’s needs, it became necessary to look for more land to build a larger monastery and church.  Many proposals were made and rejected.  Finally, after a Novena to our Patroness, St. Rita, the forty-acre Horlick farm was sold to the Augustinians in 1935.  On the Feast of St. Rita in 1941, the cornerstone was laid for the church and monastery, and the building was solemnly blessed on the Feast of Pentecost, 1942.

In 1952, the parish purchased the North Racine School (now Lathrop Furniture on Hwy 32) to accommodate the parish's growing school enrollment.  Three years later, the first five rooms of the current school building were completed and occupied by grades one through four.  The following year, grades five through eight moved into the east wing addition.  In 1966, the gym, kitchen, and science room completed the building.

As generations have passed, having celebrated many liturgies and sacraments, the church was not large enough to serve the needs of the growing parish.  In October 2005, our new church building was dedicated.  The beautiful stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross were transferred from the old church to the new one.  The old church building has been renamed Cascia Hall, and it is currently used by various parish groups for numerous meetings, events, and other activities.  The church, day care, and K-8 elementary school continue to serve families in Caledonia and greater Racine area. Today, St. Rita Parish has approximately 1100 member families.

St. Rita was founded and served by priests and brothers who are members of the Order of St. Augustine.  In June of 2019, the Augustinians consolidated their houses and moved away from St. Rita Parish.  In July of 2019, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee began providing a diocesan priest for the parish.  The first diocesan priest assigned was Rev. Michael Petersen.