150 years in the making

Categories: Around the Diocese

Parish community of St. Lawrence, Duelm, is celebrating its sesquicentennial with a host of activities

August 2, 2013, edition
By Lynette Thelen

Lawrence Balzer was the oldest pioneer at the time of the building of the first log cabin church in Duelm. The Church of St. Lawrence was named after Balzer’s patron saint.

With its theme, “Inspired by the blessings and graces of the past, we look to the future,” St. Lawrence Parish will celebrate its sesquicentennial the weekend of August 10-11.


Friends and former parishioners are invited to tour St. Lawrence Church as part of the Duelm parish’s sesquicentennial events.
Lynette Thelen

Saturday events include a parade at 3:00, followed by fun and games, including, inflatables, face painting, a medallion hunt, food and beverage vendors, bean bags, horse shoes and kickball.

The first day of the celebration will conclude with a street dance from 6 to 9 p.m. featuring “Stifle,” a local band comprised of parish members.

Sunday events will include Mass at 10:00 a.m. followed by a catered dinner for invited guests.

Historical displays and tours will be available throughout the weekend. The church interior has also undergone refurbishing and stained glass windows, created by parish member Deb Hennek, are being designed with some of the windows already in place.

The parish is putting out the welcome mat with commemorative banners surrounding the church in the hope that past, present and future members will join in the celebration.

A sesquicentennial edition cookbook as well as an updated history book will be available for purchase. A commemorative quilt designed by artist and parishioner Lisa Hinkemeyer will also be unveiled.

Prior to the anniversary weekend, a tree planting is planned after the 8:00 a.m. Mass Sunday, August 4. A beard growing contest is in full swing and will be judged  Sunday, November 24.

In a recent letter included in the history book, Bishop John F. Kinney noted, “The one constant for this parish has always been a sense of community. Community, along with devotion to family and Church, remains with you today. Your forefathers built a faith community they were proud to call Saint Lawrence Parish. That pride continues and certainly has been a strong foundational support during these past fifty years of change and challenge to you as a parish.”

“It is a young parish and serves the lake population too,” shared Betty Pundsack, parishioner and faith formation director at St. Lawrence.

“There are about 200 kids in the faith formation program. Each year we do a yearly group service project. We’ve raised $6,000 and have also donated money to help victims in the tsunami in Japan and the hurricane in Haiti. We’ve also donated money to a missionary from our church.”


The former church building was used from 1899 to 1985, when the current church was built. Submitted photo

Religious services were first held in Duelm in 1863 by Father Xavier Pierz, the great missionary priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Father Pierz is recognized as the “Father of the St. Cloud Diocese.” He came to America when he was already a comparatively old man, and he was the first priest to offer Holy Mass in many places within the present boundaries of the St. Cloud Diocese.

Father Virgil Helmin, pastor at St. Lawrence Parish, also wrote a letter included in the history book, “It is a great honor to be your pastor as we celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of our parish.

“As we reflect on the beginnings of our Parish we may think that life was difficult at that time because there wasn’t electricity, cars, airplanes and all of the conveniences we now take for granted. Yes the world was absolutely different at that time, but our ancestors dealt with it. I would love to get ‘their take’ on how they see our society and world today. With all our modern conveniences life is still a challenge and difficult at times. I am sure they think that life way more difficult today than they had it. Our ancestors began what we are a part of and enjoy today. They began the Parish of St. Lawrence and passed on their faith to their children, friends and other people of the community. We are the beneficiaries of their faith, their prayer, their sharing and their work. May God continue to live in our community and in our hearts!”