An Andover woman is giving a gift to her church marking its 150th anniversary.
Maria King, former teacher and Anoka County Historical Society worker, has written a book, “Promises to Keep,” detailing the origin of St. Patrick Catholic Church of Cedar Creek started in Oak Grove in 1862 to the present.
The first congregation numbered more than 100 members. Today its membership is at about 7,000, according to King.
The story traces the history of the church and the three buildings it has inhabited, including the present day location at 19921 Nightingale St. N.W. in Oak Grove.
“I love history and I love my church and it naturally came together in this particular endeavor,” King said in an interview with ABC Newspapers.
King has fascinating anecdotes to tell in the book. The story, for instance, of the once popular chicken dinners the church was known for in the 1930s. But the church didn’t have running water. So every family attending the dinner was expected to haul milk cans filled with water to the church for drinking and cleanup.
Maria King Snapshot
Born: North Minneapolis
Raised: Coon Rapids
Education: Coon Rapids High School graduate, bachelor’s degree in education, with a concentration on language arts from St. Cloud State University, master’s degree in curriculum from the University of Minnesota
Work: Former teacher at L.O. Jacob Elementary and Sandburg Middle School. Former worker at Anoka County Historical Society, now retired.
Now reading: “One False Move,” a mystery by Harlan Coben
Favorite genre to read: History, mystery, romance
Role models: Bill Cox and Mildred Gallagher for their story-telling abilities. King met them while researching her book.
Another scenario tells of a church choir loft so wobbly that the singers feared it would cave in any moment. That was at St. Patrick’s first church built in 1871.
The 125-page book with more than 50 photographs took King two years to write from start to publication.
King said she was moved to write the book after she met a woman who wrote a history of the Anoka United Methodist Church.
But writing the book had its challenges. Like seeking human sources and researching, something near and dear to King’s heart, who worked at the ACHC for a decade (she retired in 2010). An example would be when King was trying to pin down a construction date for one of the buildings.
“It’s such a small insignificant line in the book, but it took me weeks to track down the information,” she said.
Still, King found the whole process of writing the book fascinating, especially dialoguing with elder church members who recalled the church’s history.
“It’s like puzzle pieces clicking into place,” she said about writing the book.
Sometimes, when King was in a writing zone, she would start at 4 p.m. and continue writing until 4 a.m. only to get up the next day and start in again at 10 a.m.
King wrote the book to give parishioners a sense of heritage. She wants them to know what a special church they have, she said.
“You’ve got to know where you came from before you know where you’re going. You really do,” she said.
Maria King will hold a book signing for “Promises to Keep” before and after church services Aug. 18, 5 p.m., and Aug. 19, 9. a.m. and 11 a.m. $20. Proceeds go to St. Patrick Catholic Church. The book is also available at St. Patrick’s Book and Gift Shop and at the Anoka County Historical Society. For more information, call the church at 763-753-2011.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]