Most of the Catholic parishes on the East Side of St. Paul will be affected by the reorganization plan announced by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in October. The Church of St. John of St. Paul, one of Dayton’s Bluff’s two Catholic parishes, is scheduled to merge into St. Pascal Baylon, located at the corner of 3rd Street and White Bear Avenue. The parishes of St. Casimir and St. Patrick will enter into a cluster arrangement, meaning that they will eventually share a pastor and possibly other resources.
Farther to the east, St. Thomas the Apostle will merge into Blessed Sacrament which in turn will enter into collaboration and eventual clustering with St. Pascal Baylon. Only Sacred Heart, also located in Dayton’s Bluff, will undergo no structural changes.
The details and exact schedule for all these changes are still being worked out. In the case of St. John’s, the merger with St. Pascal’s is to take place no later than July 1, 2013. At that time St. John’s parish will cease to exist as an independent entity and the church and other buildings will be transferred to St. Pascal’s. The merged parish will then decide if or when the church building itself will be closed.
According to Catholic Church law, parishes are allowed to appeal decisions such as mergers within ten days of the official decree. St. John’s and eleven of the other 14 parishes in the Archdiocese involved in mergers have submitted appeals to Archbishop John Nienstedt. The Archbishop has 30 days to uphold, amend or withdraw the original merger decree. After that a parish could then file another appeal to the Congregation of Clergy in Rome. The closing of church buildings can also be appealed separately in the same manner at the time they occur.
St. John’s has a long history in Dayton’s Bluff. When its first church was built on 5th Street near Forest in 1886 the new parish had 1400 members. An elementary school soon followed in 1890. The second and current brick church replaced the original wooden building in 1922. A much larger school was opened in 1932. St. John’s now has nearly 400 members as it enters its 125th year. The school remained active into the 1970s when it was merged with Sacred Heart and moved into Sacred Heart’s school building. Sacred Heart- St. John School eventually merged with the schools of St. Patrick and St. Casimir in 1992 to form Trinity Catholic School. Trinity was scheduled to move back into the St. John’s school building in the fall of 2009 until it suddenly closed in March of that year.
Since the 1970s the St. John’s school building has been home to a number of nonprofit organizations, a public charter school, special public school programs, and a small Catholic school. St. John’s is once again looking for a major tenant for the school building. Anyone interested in the building should call the church office at 651-771-3690.
Greg Cosimini is a member of St. John’s church.