Parish profile – St. Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge

Categories: Around the Diocese

Breck outside

St. Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge

The parish was founded in 1898 and currently has 428 households. The following questions were answered by Sharon Leinen, parish secretary, and Kristi Bivens, pastoral associate.

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

A: The most interesting facets of our building are the stained glass windows. They were designed by Dieterich Spahn Association, Inc., of Wayzata, Minnesota, and were installed in time for our parish centennial in 1998. The windows were all purchased with donations from parishioners.

Breck rose window

St. Mary of the Presentation interior rose window.

We have a rose window on the east side of the church, located in the balcony. There are two windows on either side of the sanctuary, representing holy Communion: One features wheat and bread with the hands of the priest consecrating the host, and the other side shows grapes and wine with the blessing hands of the priest. There are 12 large stained glass windows on both the north and south sides of the church nave, six windows on each side. The north windows represent stories from the Old Testament while the south windows represent stories from the New Testament.

Q: What is your parish’s most popular initiative?

A: St. Mary’s parishioners have a long history of going above and beyond with contributions, time and talent. We are currently conducting a capital campaign to raise money for a new school. Part of our present school was built in 1925, while the other half was built in 1965. Through generous gifts we have half the cost of the new building already pledged.

Parishioners are getting creative with raising money for the new school. Our priest, Father Joe, and a parishioner raised watermelons, squash and pumpkins and sold them after Masses to raise money. A parish couple is recycling the old slate blackboards from the school by cutting them down, framing them and offering them for sale for use in homes. A couple of people who won money in our fall raffle donated part of the winnings back to the campaign, and one parishioner even bought a raffle ticket listing the campaign as the recipient — that ticket was pulled for the $5,000 raffle prize!

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

A: Prior to 1898, Catholics from both Breckenridge and Wahpeton, North Dakota, attended Masses in Wahpeton (our “sister city” right across the Red River). When Wahpeton decided to build a new church, the Breckenridge residents organized their own parish and also built a church in Breckenridge.


Backowski, Father Joe

Father Joseph Backowski

Meet the pastor

Father Joseph Backowski grew up in Little Falls and attended Holy Family Parish in Belle Prairie. He was ordained June 2, 2012. He served the parishes of St. Michael in St. Cloud and St. Joseph in Waite Park as a parochial vicar for one year. He has been pastor of St. Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge, and St. Thomas Aquinas, Kent, for two years.

Q: What inspired you to become a priest?

A: I was inspired to seek the priesthood by the joy of my childhood pastor, Father Harold Kost, and also by the order and beauty I discovered in nature that was set in motion by the Eternal Word.

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

A: I enjoy being Christ’s presence, no matter what I’m doing, for the people of God: Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

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

A: One of my Good Friday homilies: In the word “salvation” we can find the word “salvage.” Salvaging and restoring rusty farm machinery is messy work. We were a mess and Christ restored us. This restoration goes way beyond working