The Diocese of Crookston, suffragan of the metropolitan See of St. Paul and Minneapolis, was established December 31, 1909, from the western half of the Diocese of Duluth, MN, comprising 17,210 square miles of the 14 Minnesota counties of Kittson, Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Marshall, Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Clearwater, Beltrami, Norman, Mahnomen, Hubbard, Clay and Becker.
Faced with a rapid influx of immigrants, the first bishop, Timothy Corbett, former chancellor and pastor in the Duluth Diocese, through letters soliciting funds, was enabled to construct more than 50 churches and 12 schools in 28 years. His diocesan statutes were known and used internationally, and his methods of promoting Catholic education and summer programs of religious instruction were widely studied.
John Hubert Peschges succeeded Corbett November 16, 1938, following the latter's resignation on August 6. The new bishop established the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, religious courses for rural youth, and several organizations for agricultural development before his death on October 30, 1944.
Francis J. Schenk was consecrated third bishop on May 24, 1945. In the post-war expansion period he sanctioned more than 30 new churches and established the Catholic Social Service Agency, Our Northland Diocese newspaper, the Catholic Youth Organization, and summer boarding schools for children of the 5-10,000 Mexican migrant laborers who worked in the diocese annually in its sugar beet and potato industry. Schenk was transferred to Duluth on February 3, 1960, and the auxiliary bishop of Duluth, Laurence A. Glenn, became fourth bishop of Crookston.
Bishop Glenn attended the Second Vatican Council and began the first steps in liturgical reform in the diocese. He is best remembered for establishing Newman Student Centers at Bemidji State University and Moorhead State University campuses in the diocese. He retired on September 29, 1970.
On that same day Kenneth J. Povish, from the diocese of Saginaw, MI, was ordained Bishop. He eagerly undertook the responsibility of implementing the Second Vatican Council documents, establishing Parish Councils in each parish and a Pastoral Council for the diocese, and encouraging liturgical and ecumenical renewal. He was transferred to the Diocese of Lansing, MI, on December 13, 1975.
Victor H. Balke, a priest of the Diocese of Springfield, IL, was ordained sixth Bishop of the diocese on September 2, 1976. He continued the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council. He has encouraged the evangelization movements of Teens Encounter Christ, Cursillo, Koinonia, and Marriage Encounter; reorganized the central administration of the diocese under the four offices of Word, Worship, Christian Service, and Administration; implemented the 1983 Code of Canon Law and codified the diocesan policies; encouraged the renovation and building improvements in almost every parish of the diocese; established an adequate retirement program for elderly clergy and a benefit program for all clergy and laity employed by the church in this diocese. Bishop Balke submitted his resignation (as required) upon reaching age 75. On September 28, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Balke from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Crookston, and named Michael J. Hoeppner, vicar general of the Diocese of Winona, MN, to succeed him.
Michael J. Hoeppner, was ordained the seventh Bishop of Crookston on November 30, 2007, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston, Minnesota. He was formerly the vicar general of the Diocese of Winona, Minnesota. Please visit Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner's page to learn more.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Bourg, in the diocese since 1903, organized their Crookston province in 1949. They later separated from their mother house in France and became the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille. Seven congregations of the Heartland Region of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph joined together in 2007 to form one united Congregation of St. Joseph. On July 7, 2008, the former St. Joseph's Provincial House (and, later, regional center) two miles east of Crookston became the Glenmore Recovery Center. The local Riverview LLC purchased the house and the 156-acre site and is leasing it to Glenmore for the treatment and healing of those suffering from addictions.
The Sisters of St. Benedict from Duluth established an independent monastery in Crookston in 1919. Their ministry over the years has been primarily in nursing and teaching. Currently, they also serve in administrative and pastoral work.
Historic Fort St. Charles, founded by the French explorer Pierre LaVerendrye in 1732, was reconstructed by the Minnesota Knights of Columbus in memory of Jean Pierre Aulneau, a Jesuit massacred by Sioux Indians in 1736. This was the first Catholic presence in this area.
St. Mary's Mission at Red Lake on the (Chippewa) Red Lake Reservation was initiated in 1858 by a Slovenian Missionary, Fr. Lauttischar. He died shortly thereafter in a blizzard on Red Lake. His ministry was taken up a few years later by St. John's Abbey which established missions on the White Earth Reservation and the Red Lake Reservation, both situated within the diocese.
The diocese now numbers 32,089 Catholics in a total population of 259,466. There are 66 parishes served by 32 diocesan and 3 religious priests. There are eight Catholic grade schools and one high school. Three Catholic hospitals and two nursing facilities serve the diocese. Priests, sisters from various communities, and dedicated laity serve the needs of our Catholic community.
The diocese is considered entirely rural in nature. Farming, logging, and tourism form the main industries. Well-known industries include Marvin Windows (Warroad), Polaris (Roseau) and Arctic Cat Snowmobiles (Thief River Falls) and allied recreational products; Digi-Key (computer components), New Flyer (city buses), Potlach and American Crystal Sugar. The University of Minnesota has a campus and experimental station at Crookston, State Universities are located at Bemidji and Moorhead, and community and technical colleges at Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks, and Detroit Lakes. In the Jubilee Year 2000, the diocese celebrated its first Eucharistic Congress, which was held at the State University Campus in Bemidji. It also initiated a four million dollar fund drive entitled “Faith for Tomorrow/A Future with Promise,” to bring new resources and energy to the educational mission of the diocese.
June, 2009, marked the beginning of the Diocesan Centennial year. 2009 also marked the Second Synod of the Diocese of Crookston, from which a new Pastoral Plan was crafted by Bishop Hoeppner.