Our History

Meet our Patron Saint – Saint Gregory the Great

Feast Day: September 3rd

St. Gregory the Great Church in North Branch has its roots tied into ruralPolish and interfaith families. The early settlers brought with them their Catholic faith and nourished it as faithfully as the land that fed them. On Sundays they would meet in homes to pray together and read the Bible. Priests traveled the area serving the people and were gladly welcomed in North Branch on the occasions they came to say Mass and administer the sacraments. In 1874, the new mission parish of St.Gregory the Great was founded and taken care of by Fr. William Wilkins of Sacred Heart in Rush City. In 1900, St. Joseph Cemetery was developed when the first burial took place. It wasn’t until 1903, under the supervision of Fr. R.V. Kennedy of RushCity, that a small frame church was built near 10th and Maple. In 1935, a rectory was purchased on the northeast corner of 10th and Main in North Branch.

For the next 17 years, St. Gregory had resident pastors. In 1942 a fire took place in the church severely damaging the interio rand in 1943, the present parish property was purchased. Construction of a new church took place on the SW corner; however, due to war time shortages and lack of funds, the church was never completed and remained a basement church for the next 20 years. In 1952, St.Gregory again became a mission, this time of St. Bridget of Sweden in Lindstrom. It was under Fr. James Geraghty, of St. Bridget of Sweden, that the present church was built and opened in 1962. Although St.Gregory has under gone many changes over the years, it still retains some of its original flavor as depicted in the stained glass windows in the church. In 1969, St. Gregory was again made a mission parish of Sacred Heart.

By 1981, the growing parish, in need of more space, built an addition on to the church; replacing the humble basement that once burst with activity from Sunday to Sunday, serving as church, classrooms and a social hall. St. Gregory remained a mission parish of Sacred Heart until 1988, when due to growth in the area, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul & Minneapolis agreed St.Gregory should have a resident pastor. On December 28, 1988, the Archdiocese set up St. Gregory the Great as a permanent parish according to the norms of Canon Law. We have been served by a full-time resident priest since 1988 under the direction and shepherding of Fr.Jim Schoenberger (1988-1999), Fr. John Parkos (1999-2004), Fr. Shane Stoppel-Wasinger (2004-2022) and since July 1, 2022 Fr. Matthew Shireman.

July 1, 2012, St. Gregory the Great Parish clustered with Sacred Heart Parish of Rush City.

St. Gregory The Great