The parish of St. John the Baptist, Mankato, Minnesota, has seen many changes during its years of existence. It has been led by nine pastors who were able to encourage and guide the faithful to form a close-knit family. This family has a rich heritage of growth and progress, which we are proud and willing to share.
1884 – 1888 Laying the Foundations
In 1883 Bishop Grace permitted the establishment of a second parish in Mankato to be called St. John the Baptist and assigned Father John Prior as the first pastor. On July 16, 1884 the site for a new church was chosen at the corner of South Broad and Hickory streets. The cornerstone was laid on October 26, 1884. Work progressed rapidly and the first Mass was celebrated in the yet unfinished, building on Sunday, August 2, 1885. August 22, 1885 marked the legal incorporation of the parish.
In November, 1888, construction was begun on the first parish house. It was a frame building, 25 by 40 feet, and erected at the rear of the church property facing Hickory Street. On December 29, 1889, three new dioceses were carved from the diocese of St. Paul. One, headquartered in Winona, included the two southern tiers of Minnesota counties. Mankato was now under the leadership of Bishop Joseph B. Cotter.
1942 - Establishing a School
In 1942, Msgr. Mangan was able to meet the parish’s wishes for its own school by purchasing the former George M. Palmer residence on South Broad Street and Liberty. This housed the School Sisters of Notre Dame and provided space for eight grades in four classrooms.
1961 – Building a New Church for a Growing Congregation
St. John’s congregation was outgrowing its church. There would have to be a new facility. Msgr. Matthews succeeded in trading the existing church site at South Broad and Hickory Streets for the R. S. Patterson homestead at South Broad and Liberty. The new and present church and attached rectory was completed in 1961.
In 1996, with the retirement of Fr. Francis Kunz, Fr. Richard Colletti became Pastor of St. John’s. Under Fr. Colletti’s leadership, the Building on the Foundations of Faith Capital Campaign provided many blessings for the parish. A new elevator was installed in the church for handicap accessibility as well as St. John’s purchased the original St. John’s school building and renamed it St. John’s Parish Life Center. This center is used for Faith Formaton and parish and youth activities. Included in the purchase of the Parish Life Center was the Palmer House, a 4-bedroom house which is now the St. John’s rectory. The former rectory, attached to the church, now houses the St. John’s staff offices.
2002 – Blessed with an Adoration Chapel
On the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2002, St. John’s was blessed with a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel.
Today, St. John the Baptist Parish has a growing membership of 1300 families. We have 189 students enrolled in the Mankato Area Catholic School system and over 400 children enrolled in our parish Faith Formation program. We have many ministries and organizations that are evidence of our continued growth and commitment to providing a spiritual home for our members and a setting in which to give honor and glory to God.