After 130 years, many of the family names whose ancestors founded this parish are still listed in the Richfield and Bloomington telephone books: Haeg, Adelmann, Christian, Doerfler, Hausler, Boeser,Yetzer, Pahl, Kraemer, Baumgartner, Alt, Houser, Duell, Posch, Link, Friendshuh, Gruer, Steg, and Blatz. These German pioneers were the founders of the German Catholic Church in “Bloomfield, Minnesota”.
With courage and trust in God, they started building, doing most of the work themselves. Ten years after the church opened, a fire caused by a lightning strike reduced it to a pile of ashes. By the end of 1886 a new church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Assumption.
The care of the mission church was entrusted to the Benedictine fathers who celebrated Mass twice a month for the next fourteen years.
It was the year 1916, when Father Peter Schmitz, a member of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, accepted an offer to become the pastor of Assumption. One of the challenges he faced was addressing the nationality question in a parish where Catholic belief proclaimed: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, but Christ is all in all”. Fr. Schmitz made it clear that the parish, despite its strong German roots, must accept everyone, regardless of their nationality. Since 1887, the basement of the church had been used as a school. It was dark, damp and too cold in the winter. A new two room school and convent were built in 1898-1899 and the Benedictine Sisters from St. Joseph, Minnesota arrived to teach the children.
In 1917, a four room school with a large parish hall in the basement was ready for the fall term. Students had to attend classes for nine months. Until then, the older children started school after the farm work was finished in October, leaving school in March to help with the spring planting. Father Schmitz also discontinued using the German language for catechism, bible history and prayers. Because of anti-German sentiments during the First World War, the disappearance of German as a spoken language was happening all over the United States.
The old European custom of seating the men on one side of the church and the women on the other continued until after World War II, when couples came into church and began to sit together.
In the 1950’s, the ushers’ program was initiated to help rearrange the people in order to end the segregation of men and women.
From the 1920’s well into the 1940’s, Richfield and Bloomington were filled with small truck or “garden farms”. During the post-war period, 1945-1965, many of these farms were plotted into lots for new homes. These new homes brought many new, young families to crowd into the old German church.
After 34 years as pastor, Fr. Schmitz retired due to poor health. Fr. Emil Twardochleb, another Oblate, came to the parish in 1950, at which time there were 330 students in the school. The school enrollment began to increase in the 1950’s, with a peak enrollment of 1,170 students from 1959-1961.
When Father William Coovert came to Assumption as pastor in 1953, he realized that it was necessary at once to expand the church and school because of overcrowding. Land was acquired from Henry Doerfler and Barbara Elsen to be used for new buildings.
With a promise of a loan of $335,000 from the Catholic Aid Association, work commenced on the new church and seven new classrooms, which were dedicated in 1954. At that time, there were 1,300 families registered in Assumption Parish, and 1,000 school children. In 1957, 11 more classrooms were added to the school and the choir loft was added to the church.
During the fifties and the sixties, the church was the social center for young families: Christian Mothers’ meetings, the Cana Club dinner, the Holy Name Men’s Club, the three day Fun Fest, the Fall Dinner, the Adult Study Clubs and the Parti Gras. There was always a shortage of space and facilities, and as usual, the people of Assumption rose to the challenge. In 1962, under the guidance of Father Cyril Foppe, 500 men and 125 women formed the “broom brigade”. For four years, they swept the Metropolitan Stadium after every baseball game. Almost every parishioner was a sweeper, a caller, an elevator operator, a go cart driver or a baby sitter. The proceeds earned paid for 2/3 the cost of the Activities Building, which was completed in 1963.
The Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965, brought many changes in the Catholic Church. Spiritual renewal, lay involvement and ecumenism were new concepts. English gradually replaced Latin during the Mass, and the altar was moved to face the people on December 10, 1964. The communion rail disappeared, as did the wearing of hats or veils by women in church.
During the seventies and eighties, the parish began to grow older, so that by 1975 there were only 343 students in Assumption School. There were fewer Benedictine Nuns and more lay teachers were hired.
In 1977 the sisters left Assumption. In 1984, after 68 years of service, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate returned the parish to the care of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis. Since then, the priests of the Archdiocese have served faithfully at Assumption from 1984-2004: Fathers Ralph Goman, Chris Russell and Michael Tix.
In 1994 Assumption, St. Richard and St. Peter schools consolidated to form Blessed Trinity Catholic School. With enrollment of more than 400 students, BT continues to serve the three parishes and represent the ethnic diversity of our area. First dedicated more than a century ago, hundreds of Assumption parishioners are buried in its cemetery, which borders the church. In 2001, an addition to the original cemetery was dedicated featuring a bronze sculpture of the Risen Christ.
In June 2004, Fr., Thomas Merrill, a Conventual Franciscan, was appointed as pastor. During this time, the growing Latino community continues to take its place alongside longtime parishioners. Assumption clearly reflects the unity that our Catholic Faith preaches-- In our diversity, we believe in “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism...”