Church of St. Michael
Morgan, MN 1890– 2006
Presented here is the history of a Catholic Community of believers known as The Church of St. Michael of Morgan, Minnesota. Following the Dakota Conflict in 1862, settlers bought land in Morgan Township on Redwood County. By 1878 the railroad became a real asset and Morgan began in the center of the richest farmland in this part of the state. Even today, its landmark is its huge elevators. Catholic Missionaries like Fr. Sommereisen visited the area from Mankato as early as 1856. Fr. Alexander Berghold, pastor in New Ulm in 1868 traveled the territory all the way to the South Dakota border and enabled the pioneers to celebrate Mass in a home and receive the Sacraments. Others who served the Morgan area were Fr. Tori 1877-1886 and Fr., Reichl 1887-1889. St. Michael’s first small frame church was built in 1888.
In 1890 St. Michael’s became a Mission of St. Mary’s in Sleepy Eye, and was officially incorporated October 20, 1890. Fr. George Pax was the first pastor and welcomed Fr. Bernard Vonderlage as the first resident pastor on September 26, 1892. A rectory was built, which still stands as a private residence. A beautiful church was built in 1895 after the little frame church was struck by lightening and burned on August 15. In 1908, St. Michael’s had the largest membership of any Catholic Church in Redwood County.
St. Michael’s has always been very proud of its excellent Catholic School. Milwaukee School Sisters of St. Francis staffed the school beginning in 1908 & then the School Sisters of Notre Dame have served us since 1927. Rochester Franciscan Sisters and Benedictine Sisters from St. Joseph have joined them and taught side by side with lay teachers. Between 1951 and 1957, St. Michael’s built a new convent for eight Sisters, a beautiful church, a new school for 200 students, and a new rectory. People have been very generous, financing each project, and generously volunteering time and talent to live and pass on their faith.
Morgan became a part of the New Ulm Diocese in November 1957. Vatican II (1962-1965) brought spiritual renewal & opportunities for much greater participation of laity in the life of the Church.
In 1988, the pastor of St. Michael’s also served as pastor in Clements, and later pastors here served as “Sacramental Ministers” until 2006. The shortage of priests became more and more acute.
A new elevator was constructed in 1998 between the church and the school. 2006 is witnessing the redecoration of the church. The decorating of the church 50 years ago is evident in the picture on this page. The ‘new look’ welcomes all who come to church to worship. Besides its Catholic School, St. Michael’s has a strong Religious Education / Youth Ministry Program and Sunday School Program. Parish Organizations are: St. Anne’s CCW, St. Michael’s CAA Council, Knights of Columbus, Altar Servers, and Mission Sewing Group. For most of it’s history, St. Michael’s has enjoyed an excellent choir. In the fall of 1998, a donation of a new organ was received, a ‘state of the art” instrument. Bishop Lueker was here for the dedication, along with Fr. Wyffels and former pastors, Father Hackert and Monsignor Leifeld. For over 30 years, St. Michael’s Parish sponsored the “We Care” Program, which provides a Food Shelf, clothes, and financial help each year to thousands of people. Mary Larsen received the national “Lumen Christi” Award from the Extension Magazine in 2003. Leadership Councils and Committees include Parish Pastoral Council, Finance Council, Education Committee, Liturgy and Spiritual Life Committee and Social Concerns Committee. We are very much a Eucharistic People— celebrating 5 planned Liturgies every weekend in our cluster and having daily sung Masses, including Saturday morning. We have a Holy Hour every Friday morning before Mass and end with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Eucharistic Adoration is scheduled every Sunday evening. Many parishioners, young and old, have always taken advantage of the Sacrament of Penance these 115 years. Confessions are heard before every Mass. Devotion to the Blessed Mother and to First Friday and First Saturday is strong; on First Saturday people come from several surrounding parishes for Mass and Confessions. The rosary is prayed before all Masses. Bible Study groups meet regularly and Adult Education Programs are offered during Lent.
Fundraising has always provided additional financial support, often generating 5 times as mush as tuition. Our School Endowment is presently $151,000 and the Parish Endowment is $653,000. We thank God for choosing to live among us, and enabling us to be “His Church.”
Other Priests who served include: Fr. Stukel 1900-1901; Fr. Bergler 1901-1906; Fr. Funke 1906-1912; Fr. Bozja 1912-1919; Fr. Kastigar 1919-1921; Fr. Gerstl 1921-1939; Fr. Schladweiler (consecrated the first Bishop ogf New Ulm in 1958) 1939-1948; Fr. Fred Thissen 1948-1951; Fr. Leifeld (later elevated to Monsignor) 1951-1961; Fr. Ambrose Siebnand 1961-1969; Fr. John Gleason 1969-1980; Fr. Zwicky 1980-1988; Fr. Hackert 1988-1998; Fr. Wyffels (elevated to Monsignor in 2005) 1998– present.