Parish profile: Holy Family, Belle Prairie

Categories: Around the Diocese

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The first Mass was celebrated in the Belle Prairie area in 1838. In 1852 local Catholics started to lay the foundation of the parish. In 1855 a log chapel was constructed, and in 1877 Holy Family Church was built. It was registered as a corporation in 1898. The parish has 440 families and 1,057 parishioners. The following questions were answered by Cindy Loidolt, office assistant and director of religious education.3B parish inside

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

A: The parishioners hauled the stone needed for the construction of the church from the rapids of the nearby Mississippi River. The church is a good solid building with walls three feet thick.

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

A: At our Heritage Festival we celebrate Mass and enjoy food, games and fellowship. But what makes our festival unique is that each year we feature a different theme from our history of this area. The first year we had booths centered around Father Harold Kost, a longtime pastor at Holy Family. Last year we focused on the town of Belle Prairie. (Since Belle Prairie is no longer a town, the booths were centered on what the town of Belle Prairie was.)

Our children put on a production each year of the Living Stations of the Cross.

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

A: We were blessed with a religious order, the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, which started just north of the church. In 1872, Elizabeth Hayes, a young English woman, came to the Minnesota frontier as Mother Mary Ignatius of Jesus and, in 1873, built a convent and school, Our Lady of the Angels Academy. She founded a religious congregation within the boundaries of the St. Cloud Diocese. In the gathering room of our church are many artifacts from the past. The bell and Stations of the Cross from their chapel and the Blessed Sacrament Monument are displayed around the Memorial Garden east of the church. Also in the memorial garden is a replica of the sisters’ original cabin. A former high school is now owned by Central MN TEC — our religious education program uses the building. The academy is an apartment building.

Meet the pastor: Father Joe Herzing

3B Herzing[1]Father Joe Herzing grew up in Milaca and was ordained in 1999. He served in the Bowlus cluster, the Holdingford cluster, Lastrup-Harding and Perham-Butler. He has served the cluster of Holy Family Parish in Belle Prairie, and Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Mary parishes in Little Falls for three years.

Q: What inspired you to become a priest?  

A: I was inspired by the Crosier Fathers who we had in Milaca, especially Father Chris Mehr, the faith of my family, especially my mother, and a sense of calling.

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

A: I like administering the sacraments and being with people.

Q: What was the theme of a favorite homily that you preached?  

A: It was a Holy Thursday homily based on the Psalm response: “I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”