About Saint Dennis Parish

Saint Dennis is an active and very social parish on Madison’s East Side with nearly 2,500 families, a 260-student school, and a Dominican convent. Saint Dennis Parish, a Catholic Church Centered on Christ, invites and encourages all to live a faith-filled journey with Jesus.

Our professional pastoral staff, support staff, opportunities for leadership, and enthusiastic volunteers bring a vibrance to the parish’s many ministries and other areas of parish life.

The Saint Dennis Festival, held on the last full weekend of July each year, is probably the best-attended social event of the year on the entire East Side of Madison. As our major fundraiser and community-builder, it bonds the family of Saint Dennis and assists with the financial needs of the parish.

Saint Dennis Parish New Sanctuary

Parish History

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.

Our Beloved Pastors

1956-1981 – Father Joseph Niglis

1981-1994 – Father Delbert Klink

1994-2013 – Father Kent Schmitt

2013 – Father Randy Timmerman

Saint Dennis Parish Esther Dempsey Donor of Land for Parish

Esther Dempsey & Bishop William O’Connor

Saint Dennis Parish Our Story Original Chapel Exterior

Saint Dennis Exterior Chapel, 1956

Saint Dennis Parish Our Story Original Chapel Interior

Saint Dennis Interior Chapel, 1956

Saint Dennis Sanctuary after 2018 Renovation

Saint Dennis Sanctuary Before 2018 Renovation

Saint Dennis Parish Bell Tower

Saint Dennis Chapel Bell Tower, 1983