St. Pat’s in Oak Grove celebrates 150th anniversary

For 150 years St. Patrick’s Catholic Church has been building community in Oak Grove and beyond.

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Oak Grove has seen steady growth since its founding 150 years ago. Photo by Kelly Johnson
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Oak Grove has seen steady growth since its founding 150 years ago. Photo by Kelly Johnson

What started as a group of six Irish immigrant families gathering together in the Cedar Creek area of Oak Grove has grown to a parish community of 7,000 members.

The church began in 1862 when the Cedar Creek area of Oak Grove became a stop on a circuit made by a priest from St. Anthony of Padua Church in St. Anthony, St. Louis in Osseo or St. John the Baptist in Dayton.

In 1866, St. Patrick’s and St. Stephen’s in Anoka became a mission of St. John the Baptist Church in Dayton. By 1873, St. Stephen’s had its first pastor and the church became a mission center with St. Patrick’s becoming a mission of the Anoka church.

In 1871, St. Patrick’s first church building was constructed to house the growing congregation. Plans called for the church to have space to accommodate 40 or more Catholic families.

According to the church’s website, Michael Gilligan traded hay for $78 worth of lumber with which the church was constructed. The men got busy sawing logs and hauling stones up from the river west of the church. They had the logs and boards cut up at the St. Francis saw mill and floated the lumber down river and then hauled them up with stone boats and horses.

Mass was offered in this structure once a month.

“Their Catholic faith held them together,” said Maria King, a member of St. Patrick’s since 1985 and author of “Promises to Keep,” a book written to celebrate the church’s 150th anniversary.

“Church was often the center of social interactions,” she said.

In 1943, St. Timothy’s in Blaine was built and the responsibility of St. Patrick’s was transferred there.

It was 1973 before St. Patrick’s Catholic Church had its first pastor, Rev. John Donahue.

Three years later, in 1976, a new church was built at the present location at 19921 Nightingale St. N.W.

Anna Collins and her husband Irving Collins donated a portion of the Collins family farm to St. Patrick’s for the construction of a new church and education wing.

For 25 years the building served the parish community well, but considerable growth in the 1980s and 1990s found the congregation to be outgrowing its facility.

In 2001, a new sanctuary was built and the former church was turned into a fellowship hall.

Today Rev. David Blume serves the parish, which draws from 100 square miles, as pastor.

King credits the church’s focus on outreach as to why it has continued to grow and thrive, she said.

“We are a vibrant parish,” King said.

For more information about the church, visit

Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]