Parish profile – St. Olaf Parish, Elbow Lake

Categories: Around the Diocese

7-3 Elbow Lake

St. Olaf Parish, Elbow Lake

St. Olaf Parish was founded in 1915. There are 127 families.

Q: What is the most interesting facet of your church building?
A: The beautiful crucifix on the wall above the altar that depicts Christ’s sacrifice and action as Savior. Also, the original design of the church had a continuous row of windows between the walls and the roof (on three sides), which gave the appearance of a floating roof.

Q: What is the most popular program at your parish?
A: The Edge program for students in fifth through eighth grades and Vacation Bible School — these youth programs nurture our young people as they discover that learning about their faith can be fun and nourishing! One of our parish traditions has always been taking a few moments and kneeling after Mass in silent prayer.

Q: What is an interesting historical fact or anecdote about your parish?
A: The founders of St. Olaf Parish were predominantly second-generation German farmers and businessmen who were relatively wealthy and who were committed Catholics with a yearning to celebrate the Eucharist in their own community. Through the hard work and generosity of these parishioners, the parish of St. Olaf was relatively financially stable throughout the early decades and during the Great Depression. The parish has never been rich but has always been practical. Over the years the parish has been challenged and shaped by the fact that Catholics are a minority in Grant County, by the unpredictability of a rural economy and by the lack of clergy.

Celebrating 100 years

St. Olaf Parish will celebrate its 100th centennial on Sunday, July 26. Bishop Donald Kettler will preside at the 10:30 a.m. Mass with current and former clergy concelebrating. Mass will be followed by a grilled pork chop dinner, games, displays and a short program.

Meet the pastor
Father Mike Kellogg

Fr Kellogg

Father Michael Kellogg

Father Mike Kellogg grew up in Grand Junction, Iowa, and was ordained to the priesthood in 2002. Throughout the diocese he has served St. Stanislaus Kostka, Bowlus; St. Edward, Elmdale; St. Mary, Upsala; St. Francis of Assisi, St. Francis; St. Anthony, St. Anthony; St. Ann, Wadena; St. John the Baptist, Bluffton; St. Frederick, Verndale; St. Hubert, Bluegrass; Assumption of Our Lady, Menahga; St. Olaf, Elbow Lake; St. Gall, Tintah; St. Charles, Herman (the next were temporary assignments) Holy Spirit, St. Cloud; St. Edward, Princeton. He has served at St. Gall, St. Olaf and St. Charles since September 2012.

Q: What inspired you to become a priest?
A: Although the church was an important part of my upbringing, I had no intention to become a priest and received a bachelor’s degree in music during college. But after working in music ministry and meeting many priests who were mentors of mine, I began to realize that God may be calling me to investigate the priestly ministry. After college I attended St. John’s Seminary, Collegeville, for three years but decided to take some time off because I didn’t feel ready to make the commitment. During my six years away from seminary, I worked in lay roles as a director of music and liturgy, pastoral associate and eventually as a sales associate while climbing mountains in Colorado. But God is extremely persuasive so I decided to return to seminary training in 2000 and finished my final two years.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your daily life as a priest?
A: Its unpredictability — of course the liturgy and Sacraments are essential within priestly ministry, but oftentimes it’s the unexpected moments of ministry that seem to remind me how God is constantly calling us to reach out to everyone. [And I enjoy being able] to offer a little hope or encouragement to those who are most in despair. As a priest-mentor once told me years ago, “Real ministry is best found within the distractions of our day.”

Q: What was the theme of a favorite homily that you preached?
A: All are Welcome! Interesting enough, after I preached this homily a number of years ago, I received both praise and scorn from parishioners. Those who loved the inclusive theme found it to be hopeful on our journey; those who criticized it felt I was allowing “everyone” to come on in. Perhaps my own experience with priests who took me under their wings and showed me the way in spite of my own sinfulness is something that I try to share with others.