Parishioners close St. John's in Morton

Staff Writer
Redwood Falls Gazette
A look at the sanctuary in the St. John's Catholic Church. The structure was demolished earlier this year.

St. John’s Catholic Church in Morton was officially established June 17, 1889.

From that date until June 30, 2019 the congregation was part of the area faith community.

However, it was that date this past June when the parishioners of the church officially closed the doors.

Earlier this year, the church building was torn down.

It was July 19,1889 when the contractor was awarded the job of building the first St. John’s church in Morton.

According to a group of St. John Church parishioners who gathered to respond to some questions regarding the Morton church, the first building was constructed of wood, and it served the Catholic community until June 7, 1922, when an early evening thunderstorm came through town.

Round two of the storm came later that night when lightning struck the belfry, and that brought the church down in flames. The roof and interior of the building were totally destroyed, and nothing from that building could be reused.

The whole parish decided on putting up a new brick building and lined up a contractor, and the erection of the brick building got under way in August 1922.

While the new structure was being built, Mass was held in downtown Morton at the theater.

It was Oct. 23,1923 when the archbishop delivered a dedication address and blessed the church building. 

Due to the realities of priest shortages in the denomination, St. John’s began sharing a priest with St. Catherine’s in Redwood Falls in 2001.

According to the parishioners, like a business, it takes money to operate, and a church is no different. A lot of income comes from the Sunday collection, but the St. John’s church Sunday Mass was being taken away so that meant it would be losing a lot of that income.

The congregation was left with a few options:

• It could stay open for a while and survive with the money it had in the bank.

• The congregation could sell the building, but it was built as a church and members knew they needed to respect that. The parishioners were in agreement they did not want to see it deteriorate or be vandalized. They would rather see it demolished than have to watch it be used for some other purpose .

• They could merge with another church and give up everything to that church.

The church board got together to talk over the options that were given to them. Then the board got together with the parishioners and gave them the options and time to think about the decision.

Priests guided the congregation to the right decision for the parish. Then the parishioners invited the bishop down to have a meeting with them and to help guide them into the right decision.

That is when the church members decided to close the church and have the building demolished and properly buried in the cemetery.

It was a difficult decision for everyone, but the parishioners believe it was the right one.

An online auction was held for all of the common items.

The sacred items were given to churches in need. Whenever members are visiting another church they will still feel like a part of St. John’s church is still here.

The St. John’s parishioners know the church is a building.

God’s love will keep their faith strong, and they all have great memories that will live on forever.

- Submitted photo