About St. Patrick’s

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
P.O. Box 490
203 Lawler Ave. S.
Hinckley, MN 55037

Our Pastor is Father Joseph Sirba and he is assisted by Deacon Jim Mostek.


The first Catholic to travel through south-central Pine County may have been Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut in 1680. He was searching for Fr. Louis Hennepin who had been taken to a Dakota Indian village on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake. In the mid 1700s, the Ojibwe Indians would take permanent control of this area from their enemies, the Dakotas. To this day, the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe retain a strong presence here in their homeland with their casino and hotel complex, located in Hinckley and the Lake Lena community (District 3 of their reservation).

Through the 1700s and into the early 1800s, French Catholic voyageurs traded furs with the Ojibwe. Many of them also married Indian women and lived with their families in the Indian villages. In 1804, the North West Company headquartered in Montreal established a trading post on the Snake River, just east of Pine City. Except for the managers, its employees were these same French Catholic voyageurs. This French influence still survives in our area in place names such as Mille Lacs (French for thousand lakes) and Riviére de Sainte Croix (French for Holy Cross River — the Saint Croix River).

While there is no evidence that Catholic missionaries came through our area during these years, it is possible Fr. Francis Pierz passed through our area in the 1830s and 1840s on one of his missionary journeys.

With the establishment of Fort Snelling in 1819, settlers from eastern states began flooding into Minnesota. On May 11, 1858, Minnesota was admitted to the union as the 32nd state, and with the coming of statehood came logging, railroads and more settlers. Hinckley was established in 1870 and Pine County’s final boundaries were set in 1872.

Catholic settlers in our area were at first served from Saint Michael’s Parish in Stillwater. Mass was offered in Hinckley as early as 1870 by Fr. Maurice E. Murphy. He would travel by rail at least monthly from Stillwater to Hinckley to care for the spiritual needs of the Catholic people who lived here. In 1875, a mission parish was established in Hinckley. It was cared for by the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Rush City, Fr. William Wilkens. Father Wilkens also directed the building of the first church in Hinckley in 1879. In 1892, Fr. Daniel Lynch became Saint Patrick’s first resident pastor.

Only two years later, on September 1, 1894, the great Hinckley fire took the lives of 414 people and destroyed the town and church in the process. Fr. Edward Lawler, pastor at the time, is fondly remembered for his heroism and help during that catastrophe. Lawler Avenue, the street on which Saint Patrick’s is located, keeps his memory alive.

A new church was built in 1895, and over the next 14 years, until 1908, priests from Pine City and later Sandstone cared for the parish. In 1908, Fr. Maximilian Rieger became pastor of Saint Patrick’s, and he remained pastor until 1936. Next, Fr. Jeremiah Ryan served as pastor from 1936 to 1944. Fr. Thomas McEnery then served as pastor from 1944 until 1956. Under his direction, the present church was built. The first Mass in it was offered on February 11, 1951.

Pastors who followed Fr. McEnery included: Fr. Roger Crowe (1956 to 1963), Fr. Joseph Ryan (1964 to 1966), Fr. David Taylor (1966 to 1972), Fr. Francis Gaber (1972 to 1975), Fr. Dennis Evenson (1975 to 1979), Fr. James Golden (1979 to 1991), Fr. James Scheuer (1991 to 1997), Fr. Cornelius Kelleher (1997 to 2012) and Fr. Joseph Sirba (2012 to present). Over the years, more than a dozen other priests have also served the parish in various capacities.

The present rectory was built in 1958, the bell tower in 1967 (the middle bell came from the original church), the outdoor Marian shrine in 1976, the social hall addition in 1999, and the Calvary Scene in Rosehill Cemetery in 2005. A plaque hangs on the wall near the front doors of the Church. It commemorates our centennial in 1975, and it concludes with these words:

“From pioneer days without a formal church building, when Mass was offered in homes, to the present beautiful structure, we can note proudly the beginning of a second century of Catholic faith and worship and service in historic Hinckley. We rededicate ourselves to those ideals that have sprung from difficult and humble beginnings But a Church is first of all people, not buildings. The history of this church is a history of priests and people together doing memorable things for the glory of God and their own sanctification. As a second century of our founding as a parish family begins, the many people who are this church, with gratitude to God hope to proclaim by their lives that JESUS CHRIST IS THE LORD, who has died, who is risen and who will come again! To you who read this, we seek your prayers for us and pray for you.”

These words remain as true today as they did when they were written years ago.

Saint Patrick, pray for us!

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