Isanti Area Catholic Community
207 Whiskey Road NW
Isanti, MN 55040
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish was formally established by Bishop Speltz on September 1, 1976. One hundred twenty founding families and the first pastor, Father LeRoy Maus, dedicated themselves to building up a Catholic Christian faith community.
The first masses were held in the Isanti Elementary and Middle Schools. Morning masses took place in the garage or basement of the newly-purchased parish rectory, located on 5th Street in Isanti.
Construction of the church building began in June, 1977. At that time, Isanti County was the fastest-growing area in the state. The building design therefore allowed for a seating of 210, with the intention of expanding to a larger, more permanent worship space on top of the original structure as the population grew. In spite of a windstorm midway through the project that blew down the partially-completed block walls, workers finished the church before the winter arrived. The first Mass celebrated inside the new church was on All Saints Day, November 1, 1977. A dedication ceremony led by Bishop Speltz took place on January 22, 1978, in which the cornerstone, interior and exterior of the building were blessed. A Mass of rejoicing followed the dedication.
According to those who were here, enthusiasm and excitement filled the church during those early years. People no longer had to travel to the towns of Cambridge or Cedar to attend Mass, but instead could develop the atmosphere and friendships they desired in the new community. The St. Cloud Visitor newspaper noted, "For the parishioners of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, building a new parish meant involvement and togetherness that they had not experienced with some of their neighbors and friends before this time" (January 1978). The article went on to comment that the new church offered plenty of opportunity for newcomers and seasoned alike to get involved with parish life. The building project had already encouraged a strong spirit of cooperation. Parishioner Joanne Mau summed it up with...
"When people have a common goal, it's bound to create togetherness.”
In 1983 a rosary shrine was built on the church grounds, the result of a dream of Ernie Haase, a member of the Knights of Columbus in Richfield. Ernie had collected contributions and donated his own funds to erect so large a rosary that no one could ever throw it away, but no land was available in his area. Phil Frischmon, a friend of Ernie, sponsored the project. The Shrine of the Most Holy Rosary was dedicated by Bishop Speltz on May 18, 1983. In 1999 the Knights added a monument to the unborn next to the rosary shrine.
Over the years, the parish paid off the building debt and began to lay aside funds for an expansion, due largely to the income generated from the annual summer Rodeo food stand, Seton Summerfest activities and from personal contributions. The Mother Seton Guild for women and the Knights of Columbus for men were organized, as well as a youth group. A four-day parish mission was held for the first time in 1998. A lay pastoral ministry was formed so that lay people could be specially trained to minister to fellow parishioners who were experiencing suffering or crisis. The Renew project strengthened our faith through small group discussion and prayer during the three years leading up to the new millennium.
In 2000, Isanti County was again experiencing a rapid population increase. The small church built in 1977 would not be able to accommodate projected parish growth. Fr. Jose Edayadiyil VC (2000-2014) brought technical expertise and enthusiasm to help us through these growth pains. A capital campaign was started to finance the new building project. The original idea of expanding on top of the “basement” church, however, no longer met the needs of the parish in 2000. Father Jose proposed an entirely new concept for expanding the church building and grounds. Seating capacity went from 210 to 600. Office areas, a media room, conference room, and adoration chapel were added along with a new kitchen. For the first time, the Faith Formation program and parish offices were housed within the walls of the existing church building. Our focus is to be Christ’s light to our neighbors and to one another. On September 21, 2003, Bishop John F. Kinney celebrated a Mass of Dedication and consecrated the newly-completed worship space. In 2014 we were clustered with Cambridge and Braham, and Fr. Donald J Wagner became the pastor of our tri-parish cluster. Many changes are happening and we are working on and with ACC's (Area Catholic Communities) our tri-parishs are known as the Isanti Area Catholic Community. We welcome and embrace all of the changes with the loving spirit of God.
Four additional shepherds have guided the parish since it beginnings, with Father Maus: Father Frank Tomasiewicz, Father Dick McGuire, Father Jose Edayadiyil VC and at present Fr. Donald J Wagner. Each has brought a unique spirituality and leadership to the community.