The history of St. John’s Parish dates back to around 1911 when people in the Wooodland area began to gather in the chapel of St. James Orphanage for worship rather than traveling to the Cathedral or St. Joseph’s-Gnesen. Under the leadership of Fr. Thomas O’Donoghue, who became its first pastor in March 1915, the fledgling parish began to build the first story of its planned two-story church.
In 1918 the Woodland area was largely destroyed by the devastating Cloquet/Moose Lake fire. Although the church itself survived, the community was ravaged. Furthermore, barely a year later, Fr. O’Donoghue died. From these tragic experiences, however, God raised up a new pastor, Fr. Michael Boland, who would lead and guide St. John’s for the next 46 years with a special commitment to the education of youth.
Msgr. Boland continued the building of St. John’s in 1924 with the addition of a multipurpose room which allowed St. John’s School to open in 1926 with 100 students. Some years later Msgr. Boland set his sights on building a new church and social hall which began in 1951 and was completed the next year. In 1954, after thirty years of waiting, a second story was added to the old church and the interior was completely renovated. In effect, the building became a “brand new” school which would educate our young people up to the present, and hopefully, for years to come. In the 1960’s a new rectory was added and in 1999 a new gymnasium. Then in 2008 the sanctuary was remodeled.
Our most recent project began in March of 2011 with plans to connect the church and school which resulted in adding a Gathering Space, several new classrooms, upgrading the kitchen with a serving area so that hot lunch could be provided to the school children.
St. John’s parishioners have worked tirelessly to provide us with sound buildings and a deep spirit of faith in God’s providence and pledge themselves to continue in the footsteps of those who have gone before.
Where God will lead us, we do not know. That God will lead us, we have no doubt. For what has been, we give thanks and praise to God. For what will be, we look forward with trust and confidence.