History of St. Eloi Catholic Church, Ghent, MN
June 25,1883 Bishop Ireland named Fr. Julius E. DeVos 1st resident pastor at Ghent, and grants St Eloi independent status.
Fr. DeVos also in charge of Misson Settlement at Marshall.
Bishop Ireland purchased and donated a house for the parsonage.
Aug 27, 1884 Articles of Incorporation which established the Church of St. Eloi as a legal institution in the State of Minnesota
were drawn up by Bishop Ireland.
(St. Eloi the Apostle of Flanders, patron saint of blacksmiths)
September 11, 1884 Winona & St. Peter Rail Road donated land for the church.
December 1884 First church in Ghent, completed and dedicated. (A wooden structure 70x35x20 feet) also the Altar Society was established the same day.
Organ purchased for $39.00. Start renting pews on Dec 8, earning $600. a year.
1889 two acres of ground purchased for cemetery one mile east of town at $20.00 per acre. Previously people were buried with in church yard limits.
Many improvements, furnishing the church with altars, statues communion rails, stations of the cross. Sanctuary and sacristy were built to enable construction of more pews, and a large gallery.
June 24, 1896 A steeple 90 feet high was erected, and blessed on first communion day.
1898 A new priest house was erected next to the church , costing $2500.
Cemetery surveyed and laid out in lots, fence constructed and hitching post.
1901 Sisters of St. Joseph (of Carondelet of St. Louis) purchased land from the railroad ($45) one block east of the church .The St. Agnes,“Sisters School” convent was built in the summer and fall of 1901, at a cost of $6,000.
January 1, 1902 A disastrous fire destroyed the church, rectory, small barn and the priests horse. (Early church records were lost including some Minneota church records being stored there at the time). The recently completed convent school, had the west wall singed and blackened by the fire. The entire village worked to save the convent.
Water soaked blankets protected the roof, while a ladder and bucket brigade prevented ignition from sparks or live cinders. The entire loss valued at $12,000. (county history records) The entire property carried an insurance of $1500.00.
September 1902 St. Agnes Convent School was blessed and opened for classes. The first student boarders moved in.
The local public school, district 67, also utilized a sister to teach grades 1-8 in the years 1902-05 and 1908-14.
During the years when they didn’t have a church, Mass was offered at the St. Agnes Convent Chapel on the second floor during the week.
Mass on Sunday was held at the Town Hall. (at that time a wooden frame building at the same location as the brick building that is there now.)
Telephone service begins in Ghent
1903 was wet year, a large basement was built at the old church site.
The rainy season, and finally the flood, filled the basement with water. A new location had to be found. After a long period of discussion, it was finally decided to
build the church on the high ground at the north edge of town, donated by Mr and Mrs Camiel DeSutter.
June 9, 1904 Cornerstone laid for new brick church, by Rev Father Walsh
May 20, 1905 The new Church building was dedicated by Archbishop John Ireland. The cost was $30,000.
It was dedicated with a debt of less than $7,000 against it. There was about $22,000 having been raised during the year preceding its completion. (County History)
(Estimated church cost in 2005 was about $1,500,000.)
October 1905 The corner stone laid for the new priest house located on the East side of the church. The building cost $4,500 plus another $1,000 for furniture. The parish house warming held March 12, 1906.
Jan 27, 1908 The fourteen Stations of the Cross were blessed and erected in the Church. There were fourteen donors, generous parishioners, Altar Society and Sodalities contributing.
September 1910 Two acres of land were purchased from the Winona St Peter Land Company for $200 to enlarge the cemetery
March 29,1912 At the church meeting it was decided to put an ornamental gate and fence around the cemetery.
June 1912 At church meeting it was decided and approved to install a heating plant in the parish house at a cost of $515.
During the summer a new Calvary, including Crucifix, Corpus, and three cement statues (life size) were donated and erected, at the St. Eloi cemetery.
In October a new gate was built and set up at the cemetery by Boerboom Bros. hardware dealers.
1910-1913 St Eloi Parish was assessed $5,000 for the new St. Paul Cathedral Fund. making payments at various times until a final payment on April 27 1913.
(St. Pauls Cathedral was built from 1906 to 1915, guided by Bishop Ireland.)
October 2,1913 The board agreed to put a bath tub, sink and plumbing in the priest house. The work done by Edw. Schreiber of Ghent for $275.00
1914 New brick school house was constructed and ready for use, in cooperation with the Sisters of St. Joseph. Oct 14 Arch Bishop Ireland blessed the new school.
1915 Ghent got electricity, constable no longer tended gas street lamps.
1916 Electric lights and fixtures were added to church and parish house $350.
Church was decorated by architect from St. Paul $400. Also old church property was sold.
1920 Priest salary increased to $1300 a year. The sisters salary was raised to $350 a year.
Jan 26, 1927 Decision was made to enlarge the gallery of the church, for more seating capacity.
1928 Sisters of St. Joseph deeded their property, school, convent, and lots, to the parish of St. Eloi for $1.00
1920’s and early 1930’s some high school classes were taught, and again in 1941-1946 but not during the depression of the 1930’s.
June 18, 1933 50th Golden Jubilee, anniversary of the founding of St. Eloi Parish, was celebrated. Archbishop Murray celebrated the High Mass. Twenty six priests participated in the elaborate ceremonies. (Fr. Pilger pastor at the time) Confirmation services in the afternoon again filled the church. An estimated crowd of 2,000 people visited the parish.
Twenty living charter members of St. Eloi were honored with appropriate ceremony.
1937 December to March of 1938, basement was dug under the church. New foundation walls were constructed. Basement floor cement poured. New heating plant and ventilating system installed costing $27,000 and fully paid by time of completion. Another $8,000 was borrowed to furnish the basement.
1940 The church roof was replaced, windows were releaded and storm glass installed. A new approach and entrance to church was added, front doors replaced, and interior redecorated. At estimated cost of $12,200 of which $10,000 was borrowed at 3%.
1942 Many needed repairs on the house and school were done requiring $6,000. The church again borrowed $5,000.
1947 A parcel of land was traded, and another parcel of land was donated by Mr. William Boerboom, which inlarged the cemetery making it almost a square lot.
1950 New roof put on school for $2,000,
1954 Church heating plant converted to oil $1,000. Another $4,000 to change St. Agnes school basement to serve as kitchen for hot lunch program.
Ghent streets were given tar surface.
July 1956 Leo and Isabelle Hennen donated a parcel of land to build new school and convent.
December 30, 1956 Corner stone laid for new school by the church. Father John Siebenand was pastor at the time.
October 17, 1957 St. Eloi school was dedicated, at a cost of $255,000 with $200,000 borrowed.
November 18, 1957 Diocese of New Ulm officially established by Pope Pious XII with Bishop Schladweiler, consecrated as Bishop January 29, 1958
January 1958 Old convent and old brick school sold $7,000.
October 1962 New liturgical alter added to sanctuary, Father now offers Mass facing the people.
August 1965 Father Savage was responsible to instruct the people with the Directives of Vatican II
1967 Central Catholic High School in Marshall closes. St. Eloi starts teaching CCD.
December 1964 Parish debt $57,650
December 1967 Parish debt $19,500.
August 1967 First St. Eloi Board of Education was nominated.
March 1970 Palm Sunday new order of the Mass started using Missalettes and lectors and liturgy in English language.
November 1970 First parish social night to raise funds for parish expenses.
January 1971 Sisters of St. Joseph were leaving after 70 years of dedicated service at St. Eloi parish.
February 1971 Vote to keep school open staffed by lay teachers. Convent converted to Rectory.
New furnace and central air was installed. Former parish house and property was sold on bids.
1972 Local vote passed, to allow Saturday night Mass. Communion rail removed from the church.
1974 In the church basement work space was enlarged and telephone installed.
1975 City of Ghent installed city water system, including St. Eloi church.
1976 New church steps and entrance project completed, also installed new heating plant in the school.
1977 Parish Council formed, new penance rite, receiving Communion in the hand option. Penance room built in the right rear of church.
January 1978 Repairs on church windows and bell tower cost $7,300.
May 1979 New electric stoves installed in church kitchen.
November 1981 Church attic insulated.
1982-1983 Renew program, Church Centennial book completed
2000-? Head start classes use St. Eloi School
May 2003 New pew kneelers installed in church.
2011 Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for youth began..
October 2012 Lead paint was removed from the interior of the church and the inside of the church was repainted.
May 7, 2017 New Altar and pulpit was consecrated by Bishop Levoir of the New Ulm Diocese.