In 1840 the bishop of Dubuque Iowa sent Father Lucien Galtier north, up the Mississippi, to the town of Pig’s Eye (later known as Saint Paul) in the territory of Minnesota. At that time the diocese of Dubuque included all of Minnesota, North and South Dakota and half of Wisconsin. Although the area was huge there were very few Catholics throughout the land. In July of 1850 (ten years later) the Vatican established the new diocese of Saint Paul which included all of the land from Lake Superior to the Missouri River. Bishop Joseph Cretin was appointed the first bishop of the diocese. Originally populated by French-Canadian and 1st Nation people the complexion of the diocese began to change in the mid 1850’s. The Catholic population continued to grow for several decades leading the Vatican to make the 12 county metro area of the Twin Cities the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on May 4 1888. The current bishop of that time, John Ireland, was raised to the status of Archbishop in the same declaration.
From the time of its establishment until the 1970’s this local Church was in a growth phase. This set the agenda for the direction of the Archdiocese throughout those years. We were part of this impulse as Archbishop Binz sent a letter to Fr. Schnitzius (pastor at the time) telling him it was time to build a temporary church building, a school, a convent and a temporary rectory in 1961. We were to have a vision of what our permanent Church building and rectory would look like as we completed our growth phase. With the building of the rectory and the erection of the current church building we have completed that phase.
In the late 1970’s into the mid 80’s as the Archdiocese completed its growth phase the Archbishop (Roach) turned his attention to organizing and standardizing the eclectic parishes throughout it’s bounds. Through many meetings and organizational gatherings the very diverse individual policies of each parish were hammered into an organized unity so that although the parishes maintained their diverse characters; internally they began functioning in a more united way.
This process is nearly completed and now the local Church has come to a new place. This is the context in which we can place the present day Archdiocesan Synod. As we have gathered for listening sessions with Archbishop Hebda and now are gathering in parish synod sessions there is a new vision being hammered out for the future of our Archdiocese. Out of this process will come a direction concerning our use of resources as well as our goals for the next several decades. These are exciting times for our Archdiocese. I am grateful to all of you who are taking an active art in this process.