The Oratory of Saint Catherine
The Oratory of St. Catherine is located in the small town of Farming, MN. Occasionally it will be opened for funerals, weddings, and ecclesial community. During the warmer months May to October they hold a Mass the first Saturday evenings of the Month. Records for the oratory are held at the Church of Saint Martin in Saint Martin, MN.
Oratory of Saint Catherine
The story of St. Catherine’s in Farming is one of faith in God, devotion to fellowship, a spirit of sacrifice and resilience. The parish community has long standing ties to its heritage as well as St. John’s Abbey. St. Catherine’s is a place where one can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and the tie to the humble German roots of its founders.
In March 1879, about 30 Catholic families, emigrants from Germany and Hungary, with Rev. Anselem Sautner, OSB, obtained permission to organize a parish in Farming, Minnesota. Michael Bock donated 20 acres of his land for church property. The church was completed in 1881 and dedicated on June 6. A cyclone struck the church the following year and leveled the church to its foundation. Five months later, a second church was blessed in November 1881. On February 16, 1903, a fire caused by a defective chimney caused damage to the building. The parish immediately decided to rebuild. A larger brick church was constructed.
When St. John’s Abbey Church was renovated in 1909, pastor Fr. Meinrad Seifermann, OSB, purchased their altars, pews, pulpit and communion railing. In 1910, two additional bells were added to the belfry. He also imported five church banners from Europe as well as a set of Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross remain today and are written in German. In 1912, the beautiful stained glass windows, one of St. Catherine’s best known features, were added. Lightning later destroyed the elaborate steeple, which was replaced by a simple cross.
The parish was closed in 2011 and remained empty for five years. After many discussions with the St. Cloud diocese and agreement within the community, an effort moved forward to reopen St. Catherine’s as an oratory, the first of its kind in the diocese. On May 4, 2016, the space was rededicated by Fr. Edward Vebelun, OSB. Since reopening, many facility improvements have moved forward including a wheelchair ramp, a new furnace, new carpet, updated cemetery fence, steeple repairs and a resurfaced parking lot.
Masses are held the first Saturday of each month May through October. The oratory is also used for baptisms, funerals, weddings and other celebrations. All are welcome to join in services held at the oratory. However, membership in a local parish, and a specific connection to the Farming community, is required for those wishing to hold celebrations there.
– historical details from St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, Farming, Minnesota : –with faith in God and devotion to fellowship by Marilyn Brinkman and Marcelline Schleper