History of Our Parishes

Jessie, St Lawrence

Mass was first celebrated in Jessie in 1888.  Two decades later, forty-three families joined forces to build the first wood frame church on the highest hill in Jessie, at a cost of $3000.  The structure was later moved to the site of the present church building.  A house next door was purchased, and Jessie had a resident priest until 1968. 

In 1948 the members built a parish hall.  Only a year later, the original church was destroyed by fire.  The hall was used for worship until 1951 when the present beautiful brick church was built.  The parish celebrated its centennial on June 19, 1988.  A new parish hall was attached to the church in October of 1994.  The old hall was sold to the Jessie-Binford Wildlife Club.  In 2005 a tornado swept through the area.  The structure was saved, but new trees and a new sign were put in place.


Aneta, Sacred Heart

On July 30, 1906, Bishop Shanley signed the Articles of Incorporation for Sacred Heart Parish.  A wood frame church was built at a cost of $4000 by Hans Finnesbo on lots donated by Peter Lippert.  Dedicated on June 11, 1907, that structure stands today.  In 1956 the parish became a mission of Jessie, later of Tolna, then of Hope and of Larimore.  It has been a mission of Cooperstown since 1992. 

A parish hall was added to the original structure in 1978, providing for CCD and other functions.  A sacristy and entryway were also added on.  In 2006, for the parish centennial, the high altarwas restored, along with other sanctuary enhancements.

There is also a parish cemetery, located on two acres of land south of Aneta.  Generous donations have enabled a good deal of work to preserve and beautify the grounds.


Cooperstown, St George

Until 1931, the few Catholics who lived in Griggs County attended Mass at Jessie or station Mass at Sutton.  In that year Fr. Charles Schneider assumed pastorate of St Lawrence and established Cooperstown as a station for celebrating Mass in a member's home or the school. 

In 1939, a church building formerly used by the Presbyterians was purchased for $900.  It was named St George in honor of the patron saint of the pastor, Father George Miller assigned to Jessie by Bishop Muench.  The first Mass was offered in this building on November 26, 1939.  At that time there were 82 Catholics, and the number grew to 160 in 1944.  The document of parish incorporation is dated August 29, 1941.

In 1944 Bishop Muench asked the Redemptorist Fathers to assume spiritual care of Cooperstown, and raised it to the status of a parish.  The Redemptorists established a mission house and it served as a base for their traveling missionaries for twenty years. 

In 1945, four acres of land were purchased north of Cooperstown for a parish cemetery.  Construction of a new brick church building began in November of 1953.  There is a time capsule inside the cornerstone laid by Msgr. Luke Arel. 

Spiritual care of the parish was transferred to the priests of the Diocese of Fargo in 1965.  There were some 300 members at that time.  Father Adam Hasey led the project of building a parish rectory, with a full size catechetical center in the basement.  The old mission house was then torn down to make room for a parish parking lot.  Stained glass windows designed by the Lightbenders Glass Studio of Fargo were added in the late 1980's. 

On  December 8 of 2004, the Knights of Columbus formally initiated Our Lady of Lourdes Council 13670 with 36 charter members.  Father Richard Fineo oversaw significant renovation and addition to the church interior and sanctuary area between 2005 and 2007.  A new hallway and bathroom addition, with platform lift for handicap access to the basement, were added in 2013.  Many generous donations made these improvements possible. 

Finley, St Olaf

The tiny cluster of Catholics at Finley had no parish of their own for many years.  In 1948, Fr. Joseph Hylden of Hope began coming to Finley for occasional services in the City Hall.  The Catholic population grew significantly in the 1950's when the U.S. government located a missile site and Air Force station near the town.   

Since the population of Finley were primarily Norwegian Lutheran, the new parish was aptly named after the patron saint of Norway.  Bishop Dworschak obtained a grant from the Extension Society to build a church.  The present structure was built in 1951 and dedicated on June 9 of that year.  A significant interior remodeling was done in 1988.

St. Olaf Parish has been a mission served by Mayville and Hope until 2005, when it became a mission of Cooperstown and the fourth of what is currently known as the Quad Parishes.