We are a joyful and welcoming Catholic community centered in the Eucharist–forming disciples who know, follow and go forth to share Jesus Christ.
St. Mary’s, like many other organizations, utilizes a strategic planning process to create its vision and parish strategic plan. Through the work of the Vision Task Force, our parish mission and vision were updated in early 2014.
The vision of our parish sets out four specific goals to be achieved. Achievement of these goals will help us enhance the worship and learning experience at St. Mary of the Lake. These goals and high-level details regarding the goals are noted below. As we complete goals, we will continue to undertake new initiatives as we seek to make the name and person of Jesus Christ known and loved.
In 1877, Bishop Thomas Grace, at the urging of 200 French Canadian settlers, assigned Father Joseph Goiffon, a pioneer priest, to minister to the Catholics of White Bear Lake. Father Goiffon, weather permitting, celebrated a Mass every Sunday at William Markoe’s cottage.
When Bishop Grace instructed him to build a church, Father Goiffon summoned his loyal parishioners to build a 30′ x 60′ church. Parishioners used fieldstones, cobblestones, and evergreens from the area and constructed the original altar from packing box lumber. St. Mary of the Lake Church was built in a few months’ time and cost $1,800. Our original church was located at the south end of our current Parish Life Center campus and was dedicated by Bishop Grace on August 15, 1881, the date on which the Church now celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, our parish feast day.
To better serve its growing population, the church nave was cut in two in 1893 and lengthened by 20 feet. By 1897 more than 700 parishioners gathered weekly. St. Mary’s church was the largest in town, seating 360 members at one Mass.
Our parishioners desired proper spiritual upbringing for their children and wanted a Catholic school, so Father Patrick Hart obtained the services of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. On September 8, 1914, St. Mary’s School opened its doors to two hundred students. Classes were held in the eight-room, two-story school.
Mrs. Mary Hill, wife of James J. Hill, the great pioneer railroader, spent summers at the Hill experimental farm in North Oaks. Mrs. Hill, her children and grandchildren, attended Mass at St. Mary’s each Sunday. After her death in 1921, her three daughters (Rachel Hill Boeckmann, Gertrude Hill Galvin, and Charlotte Hill Slade) decided to honor their mother by donating the funds to build a new church. It was a replica of the church their mother worshipped at in St. Paul, also named St. Mary’s. The beautiful, new St. Mary of the Lake Church was dedicated on Sunday morning, November 27, 1926.
St. Mary’s history is replete with wonderful priests, sisters, and lay people who have guided us to where we are today. Preceding Father Talbot were 19 dedicated pastors. Over the years, our growing community has needed more space; construction projects included the convent (1925), school addition (1951), rectory (1954), parish center addition (1969), church renovation (1988), and our Parish Life Center (2004).
Our most recent addition doubled the available space in the parish center/school building, allowing space for our many ministries as well as our growing faith community. Our beautiful Parish Life Center is architecturally linked to the church through several design elements and honors our community with the color palette taken from White Bear Lake itself.
We have grown from a small parish of 250 people to over 2,300 households. Today, St. Mary’s parishioners fulfill our mission by prayer, participation, and giving as we strive to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.