THE STORY of a PARISH
"To preserve the history from the beginning while events are still fresh, this record is begun by A.R. Filbin. It is our hope that all succeeding pastors will continue to chronicle the story of the growth of the parish." With this introduction Father Ambrose Filbin began a notebook in the summer of 1954. He continued the notebook until the summer of 1955 when he began publishing a weekly bulletin. This short history of St. Pius X parish is compiled from Father Filbin`s notes and nearly 30 years of weekly bulletins.
On June 19, 1954, Father A.R. Filbin was appointed the founding pastor of the new parish of St. Pius X in White Bear Township, Minnesota. The boundaries of the parish were the Washington County Line on the east, County Road D on the south, the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks on the west, and South Shore Boulevard on the north.
The first Mass in the new parish was celebrated on June 20, 1954, in the auditorium of Gall Public School on White Bear Avenue and County Road E. About 100 people attended that first Mass; the collection was $111.38.
The parish was legally incorporated on June 25, 1954. Donald Behr and George Huth were appointed the first lay trustees. The parish at its inception consisted of about 200 families. A temporary rectory at 3851 White Bear Avenue was purchased for $18,600. A parish women`s group was organized on June 30, 1954 and a men`s group on July 6, 1954.
Ken Bacchus, a contractor in the area, donated a block of land for the building of a church and school combination. Construction was begun on October 7, 1954.
The first Mass in the new building was said in April of 1955, and Mass was offered for the first time in the actual church on Pentecost Sunday, 1955. The church was blessed and dedicated on Saturday, August 20, 1955, by Bishop James Byrne. Men of the parish held an all night vigil of the Blessed Sacrament in preparation for the dedication of the church. In 1987 the parish still continues this special veneration of the Eucharist encouraged by Pope Pius X by Eucharistic adoration twice a month on Wednesdays.
St. Pius X School opened on September 13, 1955, with six grades and five St. Joseph teaching sisters. Enrollment was about 300; Sister Dorinda was the first principal. She was succeeded by Sister Mary Martin Nelson who became the second principal. The third principal was Sister Francis Carmel.
Confirmation was administered for the first time at St. Pius X on November 29, 1955, to about 75 fifth and sixth graders and adults.
The parish grew rapidly. By 1956 there were five times as many parishioners as in 1954. The men`s group and women`s group were busy with fundraisers. Raffles included cars and even a house lot in a "Name the Nome" contest. In 1987 there is one major fundraiser, "Autumnfest"; additional funds are raised through school-sponsored Fish Fries, and annual Marathon Walk for private education, Women`s Spring Boutique, et. But the major portion of the parish budget is provided by our Sacrificial Giving pledge drive, a parishioner program of tithing.
In the early years of the parish, there were a number of social activities such as the annual picnic held each summer on Hanson` Farm on County Road E near Hoffman`s Corner. In 1987 these activities continue with the Council of Catholic Women active in Scripture study, guilds for apostolic work and fellowship activities, with the Knights of Columbus growing in membership, and with various other parish groups planning gatherings at St. Pius X.
In the early days across from the church in a farmhouse lived a woman with a bull. At times the bull got loose and frightened people on the way to church. In 1987 the church is surrounded by residential homes and apartments, including a new rectory purchased at 1970 Oak Knoll Drive.
In April 1958, construction was begun on an eight-room addition to the school. Enrollment in the school continued to grow until it reached a peak of 685 in 1965.
Construction of a convent was completed in December 1962.
Serving with Father Filbin, Father James Schoenberger was the first associate pastor at St. Pius X, arriving in June 1959. He was followed by Fr. George Coleman (1961-62), Fr. Martin Fleming (1962-67), Fr. John Donahue (1967-68), Fr. Julian Sprunck (1968), and Fr. Harry Walsh (1969-70).
A Parish School Board and a Parish Council were formed in 1969.
A major decision faced the parish in 1971. St. Pius X had to decide whether to consolidate its school with that of St. Mary`s parish or to continue its own operation without any sisters. The people of the parish chose the second alternative. St. Pius X School continued with an all-lay faculty except for its principal, Sister Francis Carmel.
On July 23, 1971, Fr. William Whittier became the pastor of St. Pius X. Fr. Joseph Boolean became associate pastor (1971-73) followed by Fr. Roger Pierre (1973-76) and Fr. Lloyd Janski (1976-79).
Ronald Gaines became the fourth principal of the school in 1972. In the mid-1970`s the lay parish staff was expanded to include directors in education and social ministry. This was, in part, a response to the needs surfacing as the parish progressed through a planning program.
In September 1977 the convent was sold after much controversy.
In June 1978, Fr. Stanley Maslowski became the third pastor of St. Pius. Fr. Janski served with him until 1979, when he was replaced by Fr. Theodore Campbell (1979-80).
In June 1980, Fr. Mark B. Dosh became our fourth pastor. Serving with him, as associate pastors were Fr. Dennis Dempsey (1980-84), Fr. Michael Krenik (1984-87) and Fr. Joe Fink (1987-1990).