Monday, June 30, 2014

The Church of my First Confession and First Communion ... now an Islamic Center.

Church of St. John, St. Paul, Minnesota
The parish once had a website with great photos and history,
I can no longer find it or the photos online.
Things like that can disappear faster than  a priest on administrative leave.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. John, established in 1886, closed in 2013.

One of St. Paul's oldest Catholic churches is now home to an Islamic community center.
The Church of St. John parish was a home to East Side Catholics since 1886. But a dwindling congregation prompted its closure in 2013.
Sold June 20, the brick structure will become the Darul-Uloom Islamic Center and serve St. Paul's growing Muslim community.
The former Church of St. John had been vacant since its last Mass in July 2013. The congregation merged with nearby St. Pascal Baylon Catholic Church at 1757 Conway St., although many parishioners likely ended up at churches closer to their homes, officials said.
The congregations were merged because of maintenance and financial issues and an abundance of Catholic churches nearby, said the Rev. Mike Byron of St. Pascal's Church. - St. Paul Pioneer Press

Former parishioners and local Catholics are sad, but console themselves that the church will be used by another 'faith community'.  That is such a secularist concept.

In the past few weeks, Islamic fundamentalists have eradicated Christians from Mosul in Iraq, and we voluntarily close our churches and sell them to Muslims to make into mosques.


We sell Catholic churches which were more often than not built and richly furnished by the poor and working class.  In the case of St. John's, while it is true there are other Catholic churches nearby, so-called 'national' churches built for and by Germans, Poles, and other immigrants, St. John's became a sort of destination church for many who appreciated the traditional environment, as well as the older pastors who ministered there.

Lately I've written about the Ethiopian Orthodox using a former Lutheran church across the street from my house.  At the risk of sounding un-ecumenical, it seems to me some of the more venerable, classical Catholic churches - if they must be closed - could be donated to emerging Catholic groups rather than sold off to non-Christian or secular use.  Yes - I said donated.  As I noted, most of the churches were built by donations.  Devout people donated to erect 'temples' of worship - above the door of many it is inscribed: "This is the House of God - the Gate of Heaven".  Since the Council, how many have been desecrated or desacralized by renovation?  How many have been sold off to finance a burgeoning bureaucracy or settlements in lawsuits?

Something is wrong.

St. Paschal's worship space.
On the closing of St. John's and sale:  
"There's clearly a need in the neighborhood to acknowledge
 a significantly Muslim population that's been living here. 
I look forward to collaborating with them on matters of mutual concern. 
They're our neighbors," Fr. Byron, pastor of St. Paschal.

Patronal statue of St. John the Evangelist
from the high altar at St. John's in its
new home chapel at St. Paschal.
Looks like a sauna.

I just noted that Fr. Z posted on the sale and transfer.  Check it out here.

I can't believe it - photos here.



  1. "Something is wrong.

    Ya think???

    1. You lived on the other side of town at the time but that church was beautiful.

    2. I was there several times. It was beautiful.

  2. I'm so deeply sorry, Terry. It is like the death of a loved one.

  3. Sorry to hear that Terry.

  4. Why couldn't they sell the ugly sauna church and keep the beautiful Catholic one?


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