HISTORY OF OUR PARISH
   
 

The first Mass in Alexandria was celebrated in a small wooden house by a few local Catholics in the mid 1800‘s when
Abbot Rupert Seidenbusch from St. John’s was stranded because the train tracks were snowed in. Since that time,
incredible changes have occurred over time here at St. Mary’s.

After that first Mass, the first Catholic Church in Alexandria was built and blessed in 1882
on the corner of Fourth and Elm. The parish had 60 members, and the cost for construction
of the Church was $669.10. It was hoped that each parishioner could donate $1.50 to help pay for the church.

The parish continued to grow. In 1902, a gothic-style church was planned and built on the
corner of 5th and Hawthorne, where St. Mary’s School presently stands. In 1932, the parish
celebrated its golden jubilee. To celebrate that event, marble from 6 African countries was
selected to build a beautiful altar.

The faith of the parish brought forth its first vocation to the priesthood. Fr. William Renner
was ordained a priest for the Diocese of St. Cloud in 1917. In 1922, Fr. Renner was
appointed as pastor of his home parish. The parish continued to grow.

By 1935, plans were underway to build a 600 seat Church under the leadership of Father Renner.
Building was postponed until the end of World War II. That stone Church, completed in 1950,
was built on the corner of Fourth and Hawthorne. It is now our current Great Hall.
At that time there were 480 registered households; the Church,
which sat 600 people, was built for $220,000. The old church was then used as a school.
Shortly after completion Fr. Renner was transferred, becoming rector of St. John's Seminary
in Collegeville. Msgr. Theodore Wrobel was appointed pastor.

In 1957, on a site adjacent to the stone Church and alongside a wooden rectory,
a twelve classroom school at a cost of $339,000, under the direction of Msgr. Wrobel.
In 1966
, beautiful stained-glass windows were installed in the Church.

In 1971, Father Hoppe was appointed as pastor.
By that time the Parish had grown to 844 households.
In 1971, a new rectory with offices was built.

Ten years later, in 1981, membership increased to 1000 households - 3,610 people.
The next year, In 1982, St. Mary's Parish celebrated its 100 birthday. That same year,
the first mausoleum was constructed at the cemetery.

In 1983, Father Alexander Ludwig was appointed pastor. At that time, there were
over 1,200 households--an increase of 30% over a 12 year period.
From 1984 through 1989 property was purchased surrounding the church to allow for expansion.

In 1997, the present church was built for $4.8 million, comfortably seating 1,500 people.
When the present church was built, there were over 1,900 households - 5,094 people,
nearly a 60% increase during Fr. Al’s pastorate. That is more than a 40 household increase
per year in a 15 year time frame. In 2001 plans were drawn up to renovate and expand the
education facility and to build a new parish administration center, known as “Phase III.”

In 2004, when the Education Center and Administration Center project was undertaken,
there were 2,094 registered households--about 5600 people.
The Education Center and Administration Building project was completed
in 2005 at a cost of $6.8 million dollars.

In 2007 Fr. Steven Binsfeld was appointed to pastor St. Mary's Church. Today,
the number of parishioners remains fairly consistent, with well over
2,068 registered households--about 5,500 people. There are about 850 young people
enrolled in our religious education programs as well as 215 children enrolled in St. Mary's School.