Holy Rosary Parish History

The Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church traces its roots to a group of 61 charter members petitioning Bishop Henry Grimelsman in 1950 for creation of a new parish on Evansville’s growing east side.

Holy Rosary began the construction of its temporary church building that same year. With the “temporary” building having lasted more than 45 years (58 years as of this writing), it was renovated in 1995 and is now utilized by the parish school as a computer lab, science lab, and library. In 1975, the first Mass was said in the new and permanent Holy Rosary Church.

Today, Holy Rosary is the second largest parish in the Diocese of Evansville, with more than 1200 registered families and 3300 parishioners calling the parish their own. Holy Rosary is a faith community of disciples of Jesus Christ. Guided by the Holy Spirit, we seek to know, love, and serve God on our pilgrim journey to the kingdom of heaven.

Founding Pastor

Reverend Monsignor Maurelius Bilskie, ordained in June 1943, was a beacon of leadership for Holy Rosary since the parish first formed. Following immediate post-ordination assignments as assistant for St. Joseph Catholic Church (Jasper), and for St. Boniface Catholic Church (Evansville); and teaching at Memorial High School(Evansville), he came to Holy Rosary. His indelible mark has been left upon Holy Rosary since the time of his assignment to the parish in 1950, and nearly 52 years later, at age 87, he retired.

He had the reputation of being a gifted storyteller, and delivered his homilies without the use of a microphone.

Throughout his life, his material needs were simple. He lived for years in the basement of the parish office building. When a new home was built for the priests at Holy Rosary about two blocks from the church, he decided not to move. He told a parishioner, “No priest should be that far from the church.”

He was born Sept. 13, 1914, in Vincennes, the son of Leo C. and Catherine (Kassens) Bilskie. He was baptized and confirmed atSt. John the Baptist Church, Vincennes.

He studied at Saint Meinrad Seminary, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1943, by Bishop Joseph E. Ritter. He said his first Mass at Holy Trinity Church in Evansville on June 6, 1943.

His first assignment, in June of 1943, was as assistant pastor at St. Joseph Church, Jasper.

He was named a Prelate of Honor, with the title, Reverend Monsignor, on Oct. 21, 1980. He retired as pastor of Holy Rosary, continuing his ministry as Pastor Emeritus, July 1, 1982, a position he held until March 1, 2002.

The consistent growth of Holy Rosary parish and school from its humble beginnings to present day is proof of Monsignor Bilskie’s devotion. Monsignor Bilskie went to be with Lord on November 18, 2006 at the age of 92.

Current Pastoral Staff

Reverends Bernie Etienne, and Martín Estrada, are the current Pastor and Associate Pastor, respectively.

Rev. Bernard Etienne is the current Pastor of Holy Rosary Parish.  He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Evansville on June 5, 1993 and has served as Pastor of Holy Rosary since 2006 after serving ten years as Pastor of St. Joseph, Princeton & Blessed Sacrament in Oakland City.  Since September 2011 he has also served as Vicar General for the Diocese of Evansville.  Rev. Etienne is an alumnus of Indiana University, BS Marketing “81”, and St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, STB, M. Div. “93.”

Fr. Martin Estrada was born and raised in Mexico in the state of Jalisco. In 2008 he moved to Chicago to discern his vocation to the priesthood. Father Estrada completed his philosophy studies at Loyola University and theology at Catholic Theological Union. He joined the diocese of Evansville in 2017 and did his pastoral internship at Our Lady of Hope in Washington, IN and at Saint Joseph Jasper and Saint Mary’s in Huntingburg. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 2019, by the hands of Bishop Siegel.