Welcome to St. Martin
A welcoming rural parish community dedicated to proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ.
Office Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9:00 AM – Noon
Address: PO Box 290 – 119 Main St. – St. Martin, MN 56376
Mass Times: Sunday 9:30 AM / Thursday 8:30 AM
Become a Member
All are welcome to attend Sunday Eucharist or any other of our events. If you feel called and or welcomed, consider becoming a member. Stop by the Parish Office during office hours to register. We look forward to meeting you!
History of St. Martin
The first European settlers arrived in what is now St. Martin in 1856 or 1857. The first settlers were Henry Ley, Peter Haehn, John C. Noll, Peter Kuhl, and Peter Frevel. The town was known as Ley’s Settlement. One of the oldest parish records states that Father Clement Staub, OSB. Offered the first Mass at St. Martin on June 13,1858. On January 7,1858, Father Bruno Riss, OSB. had administered the first baptism to Joseph Noll.
For the first three years there was no church, and whenever a priest came, the settlers would gather at the home of Henry Ley to assist at Mass. For nearly a decade Mass was offered only once a month. But the settlers felt they could and should have a church.
The first church was a very modest frame building, measuring 24 by 36 feet. Actual building was begun after July 1, 1861, when the contract was let. The church was built of sawed lumber brought from Sauk Rapids by ox teams, a distance of almost forty miles. The church was blessed on November 11, 1861, on the feast day of its patron, Saint Martin.
By 1865 the little church was crowded and proved to be too small to accommodate all the worshipers. To provide more space the church was enlarged with a 24 foot extension. A log cabin rectory was also built at this time.
At this time, St. Martin was a growing community. In its issue of March 5, 1868, Der Wanderer, the first German Catholic newspaper in Minnesota, says: “Eight years ago there were only a half dozen families here in St. Martin. Then it was possible to travel for hours without seeing a stalk of grain; now there are numerous farms…..Sixty-five to Eighty-five children attend the local school daily.” In 1867 there were thirteen baptisms; in 1870 twenty-eight were recorded.
Reverend Simplicius Wimmer, OSB. Became St. Martin’s first resident pastor in November 1872. Although he resided at St. Martin, he was also responsible for several missions, so he could only celebrate Mass at St. Martin two Sundays a month. Under his leadership a new wood frame rectory was built in 1875.
By 1877 the community had grown enough that the church was again too small so another 24 foot extension was added. This resulted in a church that was all out of proportion. Shortly after this a building fund for a new brick church was established.
After years of fund raising, bids for the new church were opened on December 27, 1885. The new church was to be built of brick and stone and was to measure fifty by one hundred forty feet. The firm of Lethert & Richmond submitted the lowest bid of $16,960 and they were awarded the contract. Reverend Placidus Wingerter, OSB. Was the pastor at St. Martin and he oversaw construction of the church. Parishioners helped to haul brick for the new church from Cold Spring. On June 15, 1886, Rt. Rev. Bishop Rupert Seidenbusch blessed the cornerstone for the church. A year later the church was finished and Bishop Seidenbusch returned to bless the church and offer a solemn High Mass of thanksgiving on June 14, 1887.
The parish continued to grow. By 1891 there were 140 families in the parish. Thirty-seven baptisms were recorded that year. In 1899 a new red brick rectory was built. It was a two story building with ten rooms.
In 1906 Father Meinulph Stuckenkemper became pastor of St. Martin Parish. Father Meinulph was one of the first in the community to operate a motor vehicle. Father Meinulph installed a 32 volt gasoline engine driven battery lighting system in the church. It was a definite improvement over the kerosene lanterns available earlier. On July 3, 1919, Father Meinulph died at St. Martin.
In November 1919 Father Eugene Woerdehoff became the pastor of St. Martin Parish. Father Eugene continued to make improvements to the parish. In 1926 Northern States Power brought electric lines to St. Martin. Shortly after this the church and parish house were wired and connected to Northern States Power. The new lights were far superior to the 32 volt lights that had been in the church.
Father Clement Dimpfl, OSB became the pastor in 1927. Shortly after his arrival $7,000 was spend improving the church. A steam heating system was installed, a concrete coal bin was constructed, and the interior of the church was renovated. Father Clement died at St. Martin on January 13, 1935.
In the spring of 1936, parishioners were thinking about putting up a parish hall. A special meeting was called in April 1936 to consider building a parish hall. It was decided at this meeting, to build a 50 foot by 112 foot hall across the street from the church. Construction on the hall began on June 29, 1936. The contract to build the hall was awarded to Math Hennen for $15,725. By the fall of that year the hall was completed and ready for use.
In February 1947 Father Cyril Ortmann became St. Martin’s pastor. During the Marian year of 1954, he was instrumental in erecting a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the church grounds. This was done to commemorate the centennial of the declaration of the Immaculate Conception. The statue was blessed by Peter W. Bartholome, Bishop of the St. Cloud Diocese on May 2, 1954.
In the spring of 1955 School District No. 22 sold their school building to St. Martin Parish. With this change, the parish acquired a parochial school. The students ate hot lunches in the basement of the parish hall. The decision was made to convert the existing parish house into a convent for the Benedictine Sisters who would be coming to teach in the school. This necessitated building a new parish house. The present day brick parish house was constructed in the summer of 1955 under the guidance of Father Cyril.
In the summer of 1956 an addition was added to the newly acquired parochial school. It was a 45 by 48 foot structure built out of concrete blocks. This provided more space for the students. However the school’s days were numbered. In 1969 the diocesan Board of Education recommended that the school be closed. It was becoming difficult to find teachers for rural parochial schools. The school building was utilized for CCD classes until 1981. Then the building was dismantled and the lumber was sold at auction.
In 1958 Father Cyril was one of the organizers of the parish centennial celebration. It was a day of celebrating the first century in the life of the parish. The day began with a Solemn High Mass celebrated by Bishop Peter W. Bartholome. After the High Mass there was a huge parade. The ladies of the parish served a chicken dinner. In the afternoon then U.S. Congressman Eugene McCarthy addressed the crowd which was estimated at 10,000 people. Rain in the afternoon caused many people to leave, but those who stayed were treated to a fireworks display in the evening.
In 1962 Father Severin Lauer, OSB. became the pastor at St. Martin. Shortly after he arrived he began to think about a new church for the parish. This was the time of the Second Vatican Council and so Father Severin wanted to build a round church in which the celebrant would face the congregation. The plan was to demolish the old church and build a new church on the same site. After years of fund raising, the old church was demolished in 1969. As soon as the old church was removed, construction began on the new church. Sunday Mass was held in the parish hall during the demolition and construction process. On July11, 1971, Bishop George Speltz concelebrated the Mass to dedicate the new church.
In 1980 an addition was added to the parish hall. This 28 foot by 113 foot annex was to provide room for eight classrooms to replace the classrooms lost when the old school building was torn down. It also enlarged the basement dining room and provided space for bowling alleys.
On June 25 and 26, 1983 the parish celebrated it’s 125 anniversary. It was a two day celebration. On Saturday June 25th there was a Polka Mass concelebrated by pastor Father Ferdinand Schreifels, OSB. and a number of native born priests. A parade was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Sunday June 26th however rain delayed the parade for several hours.
On June 21 and 22, 2008 the parish of Saint Martin celebrated it’s sesquicentennial. Just as had been done in 1983, it was a two day celebration. Father Julian Schmiesing, OSB. Was the pastor at the time. He had spent years planning for the big celebration. As usual for important celebrations in St. Martin, it consisted of Mass, a parade, music, and good food.
Information was obtained from the history book of the St. Martin Parish written by Father Cyril Ortmann for the 1958 parish centennial and the sesquicentennial book written by Paul Hughey.