St. Cloud, Diocese of
ST. CLOUD, DIOCESE OF
Located in central Minnesota and covering an area of 12,251 sq. miles, the diocese of St. Cloud (S. Clodoaldi), suffragan of the metropolitan See of St. Paul-Minneapolis, was erected by Leo XIII on Sept. 22, 1889, with the see city in densely Catholic Stearns County.
Though a Winnebago mission was served by Canon Francis de Vivaldi at Long Prairie in 1851, the acknowledged founder of the Church in the area was Rev. Francis pierz, a Slovenian missionary who at the age of 67 arrived in central Minnesota in 1852 to work among the Native Americans. When his enthusiastic letters, reports, and advertising attracted German settlers by the thousands, his ministry was extended to Sauk Rapids, Belle Prairie, St. Joseph, Jacob's Prairie, St. Augusta, and St. Cloud. Pierz appealed to Bp. Joseph Crétin in St. Paul, who in turn contacted Abbot Boniface Wimmer of St. Vincent's, Latrobe, Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1856 four Benedictines arrived to minister to the new settlers. The monks settled in St. Cloud, founding st. john's Abbey; soon their influence spread throughout Stearns County. The next year Benedictine nuns from Pennsylvania (founded from Eichstatt, Bavaria) came to help. Revs. Joseph Buh and Ignatius Tomazin joined Pierz in serving the native population. In 1873 Mother Mary Ignatius nee Elizabeth Hayes, founded the Franciscan sisters at Belle Prairie.
When the Vicariate of Northern Minnesota was formed in 1875, Abbot Rupert Seidenbusch (1830–95), first abbot of St. John's, was consecrated vicar with residence in St. Cloud. The continuing stream of immigrants—Germans, Irish, Poles, and Slovenes—swelled the ranks of the faithful. In 1888, when Seidenbusch resigned, there were 65 churches, a number of schools, and a hospital serving the Catholic population.
Erected in 1889, the diocese was headed by Bishop Otto Zardetti, who was consecrated Oct. 20, 1889. A diocesan monthly was published during his episcopate, the Franciscan sisters at Little Falls were organized into a community, and the Catholic school system was promoted. When Zardetti was named archbishop of Bucharest, Romania in 1894, he was succeeded by Martin marty, OSB, the bishop of Sioux Falls. Marty's brief episcopate in St. Cloud ended with his death on Sept. 19, 1896. The third bishop, James Trobec (1838–1921), pastor at St. Agnes in St. Paul, was consecrated Sept. 21, 1897. When Trobec resigned April 15, 1914, the number of parishes had increased to 123, and schools to 25.
Joseph F. Busch (1866–1953) was installed as St. Cloud's fourth ordinary on March 19, 1915. Director of the St. Paul Diocesan Mission Band, he had been consecrated in 1910 for the See of Lead, South Dakota (now Rapid City), where he had been a pioneer in supporting the cause of social justice and social action. A number of parishes were established shortly after World War I, as well as a model orphanage and a monastery for the Poor Clares. A diocesan paper, the St. Cloud Register, later the St. Cloud Visitor, was successfully founded. In 1937 St. Mary's in St. Cloud was designated the cathedral church.
In 1942, Busch received Peter W. Bartholome (1893–1982), pastor at St. John's, Rochester, Minnesota, as his coadjutor. After World War II extensive building to erect or replace churches, schools, rectories, convents, and old folks homes took place. In addition St. John's Seminary was built at Collegeville and administered by diocesan priests with a Benedictine faculty.
On May 31, 1953, at Busch's death, Bartholome succeeded as fifth ordinary. He fostered and guided the Rural Life and Family Life movements in his diocese and in the nation. Catholic Charities was reorganized, vocation work emphasized, diocesan units of the National Council of Catholic Men and the National Council of Catholic Women were established, and a marriage counseling board set up.
Bishop George H. Speltz (1912–), auxiliary bishop of Winona, came to St. Cloud in June, 1966, as coadjutor, and succeeded Bartholome when he retired in 1968. The new structures resulting from Vatican II were implemented in parish councils, the diocesan pastoral council, the presbyteral council, which diminished the role of the diocesan consultors and deans. The Pro-Life Movement started in 1970 to educate on abortion and euthanasia. After the Vietnam War Catholic Charities sponsored refugees to resettle in central Minnesota, and expanded its role in low-income public housing, "meals on wheels" for the home-bound, and various kinds of counseling, with the support of public monies.
When Speltz resigned on Jan. 13, 1987, he was succeeded by Abbot Jerome Hanus, OSB, of Conception Abbey in Missouri, who became seventh bishop of the diocese. On Aug. 23, 1994, Hanus was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Dubuque. His successor was John F. Kinney (1937–), bishop of Bismarck, who was installed as eighth bishop on July 5, 1995.
The decline of priestly vocations since 1966 left a dearth of priests. Many parishes were twinned under one pastor, and projections were made for facing future shortages. Permanent deacons were assigned for parish duties. The number of seminarians remains low, that of permanent deacons is rising.
Although the geographical area of the diocese remained constant, there were notable shifts in population at the end of the century. The western counties lost population because of the decline in family farms. Several parishes were closed. The eastern counties grew rapidly with people from the Twin Cities moving into suburban communities. Because of the population shifts the Catholic image and influence has diminished.
In the year 2000 religious communities in the diocese were the Benedictine Fathers of St. John's Abbey at Collegeville and the Crosier Fathers of Holy Cross Monastery in Onamia; the Benedictine Sisters of St. Benedict Priory in St. Joseph, the Franciscan Sisters in Little Falls, and the Poor Clare Monastery in Sauk Rapids.
Bibliography: Archives, Diocese of St. Cloud. c. j. barry, Worship and Work: St. John's Abbey and University, 1856–1956 (Collegeville, MN 1956). w. p. furlan, In Charity Unfeigned: The Life of Francis Xavier Pierz (Paterson 1952). v. a.yzermans, The Spirit in Central Minnesota (St. Cloud, MN 1989).