St. Ann's Church Of St. Vincent

by

Louis Jerome

 

People of today may have forgotten the meaning of the church,but not the people of the frontier, They came to the west to find theirfame and fortune. Even if no-one knows it, Minnesota was once consideredto be the west. When it was found that they could not find gold or silver,the pioneer had to turn to the tilling of the soil. As they did this theyhad to have some place to go to tell their troubles. This was the main reasonthat the St. Ann's Church of St. Vincent was built. It served as a gatheringplace for the people to come. Here they could talk to each other about theirtroubles as well as go to church to worship. Yes, it is true that the churchserved as the nucleus of the community. St. Ann's was no exception to therule. Why, members of the church stem back to the French voyagers. Eventhe members of the church today still identify with it.

The history of the church is very exciting, as you willsee in the next few pages.

In 1933, the church was located on the corner across fromthe old fire hall in St. Vincent. This year was to prove to be a very importantone to the church. For it was in this year that its location was to be changed.The people thought the old building was too run down and too small for themembers to meet in any longer. It was also out of date. The heating of theold church was a great problem during the winter months. The reason forthat was that all that it had to heat it was a pot-bellied stove. It tooka lot of work to get the wood for each service on Sunday. So the peopledecided that they would build a new one. It was to be located across fromthe Champion station in St. Vincent. So that is where they set out to buildthe new building. And in late 1933 the building was ready. Now was the timethat every member had to get busy and help in the moving of the pews andother furniture. And, of course, the organ.

The new church was so much better equipped than the oldone. Why this one even had the "modern" heating of a new oil furnace.But this presented a problem because the church was not used during theweek. It wasn't used because it would prove to be too expensive to heatall of the time. So a caretaker had to be found to light the furnace everySunday before the services. This man was to be John Freibohle. He servedas the caretaker of the church up until his death in the winter of 1971.He served his church well and made sure that the furnace was running atall times, even in forty below weather in the winter.

The new church also had a new priest. This was becausethe old priest just got too old to preach anymore and so a younger one wascalled in to preach to the ever growing congregation. This priest's namewas Father MacAlear. He was a very red-headed Irishman, and very stubbornjust as an Irishman is. But this man was very thoughtful and very kind toall of the people that he ever talked to. But under this he was also a verypowerful speaker. No one in his congregation would fall asleep while hewas talking. He would blurt out the evils of hell and the goodness of heavenand would relate them to everyone in the congregation. This would naturallyset everyone to thinking, and they would think that life really wasn't thatbad, even if it was a time of economic crisis in the United States. FatherMacAlear served as the parish priest for eight years and also as the priestin the Hallock parish of St. Patrick. You see, the two parishes shared thepriests. This was still the practice up until St. Ann's closed in 1971.

But getting back to the history of the church, the partingof Father MacAlear was a sad event for the members of the church, but hewas replaced by a priest that was just as capable as he was. This priest'sname was Father Merth. Merth was very much different from MacAlear. He talkedsoft and was willing to listen to all of the people's troubles in his parish.He may have talked soft, but he got through to the people, in the same manneras did MacAlear. All in all "he was a very kind man" (1)

But as all good things do, they came to an end. In 1957,Merth was replaced by Father Sietz. Sietz, too, was a very powerful speaker,just as MacAlear was. There was only one difference; Sietz was a much moreambitious man than the two priests before him. While he was priest at St.Ann's many things were changed. The church was remodeled twice. First thebasement was remodeled so that the church could carry on its various activities.The main reason that the basement had to be remodeled was that the floodsof 1948 and 1950 caused quite a bit of damage to it. But it wasn't untilSietz came that anything was done to fix it up. Then shortly after the remodelingof the basement, the upper part of the church was redone. This includedhaving the walls done in plaster and all new pews were installed.

As you can see, Sietz was very ambitious. But along withthis talent he was also very kind. He would take time to talk to anyone.He was just that kind of man. Mrs. Eva Gardner, a parish member, had hermother living with her during the time that Sietz was priest. Mrs. Gardner'smother was an invalid, and Sietz would come once a month and hear her confessionand give her communion. This in itself tells you what kind of man that hemust have been.

And as it is a tradition of not letting a priest stay toolong in one parish, Father Sietz had to leave. He was then replaced by FatherJerome Felion. Felion wasn't as ambitious as Sietz, but he did accomplishthe essentials of a priest. He was a slow talking man, but he got his pointsover to the congregation when he talked.

Felion was to be the last priest that St. Ann's was goingto have, for it closed in the summer of 1971 due to financial problems.

You may think that the history of the church would be over,being that it closed, but that is not true. It is still serving its community.It may not be in the same manner that people may think, but it is. Todaythe church has been converted into a pool hall for the young people of St.Vincent and the surrounding area. So, you see that it is still a very importantpart of the community. It is still the place where

the people gather to talk over the currentproblems and to just talk. No one that was a member of the church will everforget the glorious history of the St. Ann's church of St. Vincent.

(1) Gardner, Eva C. (Interview) December 16, 1971

 

Bibliography

Gardner, Eva C. (Interview) December 16, 1971

Kittson County Enterprise (1955)rdner, Eva C. (Interview) December 16, 1971

Kittson County Enterprise (1955)