Parish profile – Assumption Parish, Morris

Categories: Around the Diocese

Assumption summer

Assumption Parish, Morris

As early as 1870, the first Mass was offered in Morris by Father Arthur Hurley along with Father John McDermott who visited the area as missionaries, traveling by rail to the less-established territories in western Minnesota. On July 27, 1883, articles of incorporation were drawn up and signed by Bishop Rupert Seidenbusch of the Vicariate Apostolic of Northern Minnesota. The parish currently has 540 households.

The following questions were answered by Corey Poppe, the chairperson of the parish pastoral council.

Q: What is the most interesting facet of your church building?

A: Any child who grew up attending Assumption Church would agree that the underground tunnel connecting the 109-year-old church building to the 101-year-old school building is Assumption Church’s most unique and memorable feature.

Q: What is the most popular tradition at your parish?

A: Each year, just before Christmas, a group of parishioners (most often parish council members) deliver poinsettias, hugs and words of care to families of those who died in our parish during the previous year.

Assumption inside

Assumption Parish, Morris (interior)

Q: What is an interesting historical fact or anecdote about your parish?

A: In the earliest days of its existence — the last quarter or so of the 19th century — the Assumption Church in Morris was considered the hub of Catholicism in western Minnesota. The parish served Catholic families in Stevens, Pope, Traverse, Wilkin, Big Stone and Swift counties, which is a landmass almost three times the size of Rhode Island.

In the summer of 2014, the roof to our school collapsed after big rains. The clean up, repair and restorations cost more than $1 million, but school was able to open for classes just two weeks late and on time for a special 100th anniversary celebration of the building in September.


Rural Life Celebration

Assumption Parish in Morris is hosting the 2015 Rural Life Celebration, set for 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 23, at the farm of Craig and Joanie Murphy in rural Morris. To locate the farm, go to the intersection of highways US 59 and MN 28 and follow the white signs.

The day begins with an outdoor Mass at 11 a.m. celebrated by Bishop Donald Kettler. Immediately following is guest speaker Candace Simar, a Minnesota author and poet. The event includes a pulled pork picnic lunch at 12:30 p.m. and musical entertainment by Mikko Cowdry.

All are welcome to attend this family-friendly afternoon held rain or shine. Catholic Charities, the Diocese of St. Cloud and The Catholic Foundation are co-sponsors of the Rural Life Celebration.

Meet the pastor

Assumption FrSchneider

Father Todd Schneider

Father Todd Schneider graduated from Sauk Centre High School in 1975. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Cloud State University, he entered the seminary at St. John’s University in Collegeville. He was ordained June 1, 1985, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud, by Bishop George Speltz. He was assigned as an associate at Assumption Church, Morris, and chaplain of the Newman Center, Morris.

In 1988 Father Schneider began serving the St. Cloud diocesan mission in Maracay, Venezuela, for six-and-a-half years. Upon returning he served as pastor for three years at the twinned parishes of St. Edward, Elmdale, and St. Mary, Upsala, then as pastor for three years to the twinned parishes of St. Elizabeth, Elizabeth, and St. Leonard of Port Mauritius, Pelican Rapids, and for 12 years as pastor of St. Paul Parish, Sauk Centre. He has served Assumption Parish, Morris, since July 2013.

Q: What inspired you to become a priest?

A: My family was foundational in preparing my spiritual life for the priesthood. I thank, most especially, my mother. During my junior year at SCSU while attending a charismatic prayer group in Alexandria, and in a time of praise and worship, I had a profound personal encounter with the Risen Christ — I experienced the feeling of being filled with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. From this encounter I began attending weekly charismatic prayer meetings, first on the SCSU campus and then with the Charismatic Prayer Group that met at St. Augustine Church in St. Cloud. I soon was strongly drawn to participate daily in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The thought of the priesthood began to press upon my heart and grew in intensity.

After about a year, I began sharing these thoughts with a friend, who encouraged me to seek out the vocation director, Father John Miller. During an evening meal at Ember’s Restaurant in St. Cloud, Father Miller said: “Todd, you are a young man, your whole life is ahead of you. I think you might have a call to the priesthood. Why don’t you try the seminary? If it doesn’t work out, you will have lost nothing. But in truth you will gain peace of mind, for if you don’t try, you will never know and you will wonder all your life if you should have explored this calling to the priesthood.”

Father Miller’s words were both spiritual and practical and they made sense to me. From there I began following the Lord who kept calling me onward in the vocation to the priesthood.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your daily life as a priest?

A: I find the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the daily praying of the Liturgy of the Hours as my greatest joys. I find great strength in my vocation through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I find the celebration of all the sacraments a great grace. I am often spiritually moved by the faith of little children, by the faith of those who continue to hope when they are brokenhearted and by the faith of those who are poor yet continue to trust in God. I often experience God’s presence at work when offering the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation and during sessions of spiritual direction with the faithful.