St. Boniface was the first bishop of Germany and a Benedictine monk. St. Boniface Church has been in faithful and continuous service in Northeast for over 150 years. We are a Catholic Church to which all are welcomed. Our focus is the dignified celebration of liturgies and the continuing education of Catholics. We also strive to do works of charity and justice by our service and benevolence. We do these things while trying to see the face of Jesus on every person with whom we come in contact because of Jesus said: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.”
History of St. Boniface
Immigration to America created large influxes of people with many diverse backgrounds over two centuries ago. With immigrants coming to this new land, they found one primary thing in common with their peers – their religion. The Catholic Church fell into a new role of being at the center of the community in neighborhoods throughout newly forming America.St. Boniface was founded in 1858 to serve the German immigrants who came to the St. Anthony area. Many moved to this area at this time as the industrial expansion soared to new heights in the North. The parish was established before Minnesota became a state, and just before America’s Civil War.
Fr. Weninger, a missionary priest, first organized the German Catholics into the parish we now know today as St. Boniface. He and 13 charter members began the construction of the first Church. Began in 1857 and completed in 1858, the Church was first located on the corner of 3rdStreet and 15th Ave NE, in Minneapolis. Soon after, it was moved to Main Street, between 10thand 11th Avenues. This move was to facilitate both a larger worship space and grounds for a school building.
Benedictine priests came to Minneapolis to serve the German population of the area. Benedictine priests from St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota, have been serving the parish since its start, with the exceptions of the years 1865-1874 (post Civil War times). In the summer of 1998, diocesan priests have again begun serving St. Boniface.
The church worship space was again changed in 1899 when a new (current) church location was acquired on the corner of 2nd St. and 7th Ave. The former Church was torn down in the early days of June, 1899.
In 1899 the new structure was built on the new parcel of land. It was simply a basement of the future church. It was constructed of Kettle River sandstone and housed the parish and all of its activities for 30 years. During this period, there was talk of building a “real church,” but funds were not available. Worship took place in the basement, “the catacombs,” as parishioners called it.
By 1905, the need grew for a parish school; parishioners supported the construction of a new school in response to this demand for Catholic education in America.
In 1912, a new convent and rectory were constructed for the parish of St. Boniface. The sisters lived in the new house, on the North side of University Ave. The rectory, built next to the church basement, was built for an entire sum of $14,624. The grand woodwork and spaciousness of the house were characteristic of the time; the house has aged well and has maintained its charm and value over the past 88 years.
In 1926, discussion began about building an upper church. The St. Boniface church community’s motto was “A new Church in 1928!” Plans were drawn, approved, and consent from the archbishop was sought and received.
The New (Current) Church
Construction began in 1926 and was completed in 1929. Even during the depression, the debts were paid and Church became a source of great pride for parishioners.
The new church structure is 175 by 60 feet. The bell tower is 95 feet in height. The body of the Church has a seating capacity of 1,000 and room for additional seating in the choir/organ balcony.
The architecture of the building is Byzantine in genre. It is finished with tan tapestry and trimmed with white Bedford stone and mosaic tiles. The Second Street entrance is adorned by arches with images and symbols of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Additionally, the Twelve Apostles are sculpted in stone on the front of the structure. Art forms within the church include the two bells, which were donated and dedicated in 1950’s. They proudly hang in the bell tower.
After the major building that first shaped the parish was completed, the lives and commitments of parishioners have since led the parish in growth. Major milestones include the births of parishioners who will work to build St. Boniface in the future and the deaths of those who built St. Boniface into the powerhouse of a parish in the height of the neighborhood. As the cycles of life go on, the parish struggles to retain its members as people move from the inner-city. However, the character of the parish community coupled with the beauty of the physical church building are sure to keep people interested in the faithful generations of the past.
Ode to St. Boniface
(Sung to the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”)
St Boniface was a great Bishop,
The first German this office to hold.
Of his great descent we are proud,
He founded the church we know now.
Praise God, praise God,
Praise God and serve him, amen, amen!
Praise God, praise God,
Praise God and serve him, amen!
The Northeast’s diverse human culture,
It’s heritage we work to preserve.
We strive to help each family member,
From youngest to oldest we serve.
We welcome all people to join us,
To hear the great Word of our Lord.
To celebrate all he has given,
And sing praise in harmonious chord!
We try to see Jesus in each one,
And treat them as he did of old.
To reach out and touch one another,
And let God’s loving magic unfold!