Miss Esther Dempsey
The Baby Boom that followed World War II helped spawn the need for a new parish on Madison’s developing East Side. Answering the call to help get it started, Miss Esther Dempsey donated her family homestead – 11.5 acres of beautiful and expansive land alongside what is now Dempsey Road.
On June 1, 1956, Bishop William O’Connor, the first leader of the Madison Diocese (which had been established just a decade earlier), presided over the founding of Saint Dennis Parish.
In December 1956, a temporary steel fabricated building was dedicated as official worship space. More than six decades later, this structure still stands, serving at the heart of the present church complex as the chapel, sacristy and Fellowship Hall.
The larger permanent church was dedicated in 1983, and the Saint Dennis Parish Center was added in 1999. In 2016, the Centered On Christ fundraising campaign began work toward bringing the baptismal font, altar, crucifix and tabernacle into alignment within the main church sanctuary to best represent the journey of faith. In September 2018, a newly renovated church opened, celebrating the theme of being Centered On Christ.
Fulfilling the parish mission of religious education, Saint Dennis School opened on September 7, 1960, under the leadership of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa. For students in 4K through 8th grade, the school truly is a place that strengthens our faith in education.
Today’s parish is home to nearly 2,500 families. Our faith community thrives on building relationships and sharing talents with each other and with God. Saint Dennis is a place where we learn from our struggles, we give thanks, and we praise the One who makes it all possible.