Historic St. Joseph church sold for $1

| July 26, 2011 | 0 Comments

The building that served St. Joseph parish in Lexington for more than 100 years was sold for $1 to Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Association on July 25, said Father Kevin Clinton, pastor of St. Wenceslaus in New Prague and the five rural Catholic communities that St. Wenceslaus received as part of the strategic planning process. (The St. Joseph and St. Benedict in New Prague churches were closed, and St. Thomas in St. Thomas was received into St. Anne in Le Sueur. The churches of St. Scholastica in Heidelberg and St. John the Evangelist in Union Hill remain open as part of the greater St. Wenceslaus Community.)

“St. Joseph Church is an icon of the many rural churches of all different denominations that were founded in the formative days of Le Sueur County,” Father Clinton said in a telephone interview shortly after signing the paperwork to seal the transaction. “Pioneer Power has as its mission objective ‘to preserve the things of the past for the sake of future generations.’ . . . This is a very good use of this church building that has deep roots in the history of Le Sueur County.”

The nonprofit association will use the building as a museum that represents the religious communities in the county, he said. Pioneer Power plans to move the building in August to its campus, about seven miles northwest of the church’s current site.

“They were quickly able to generate support in the community to rescue this church building,” Father Clinton said. “People throughout Le Sueur County have donated money to Pioneer Power to assist — at considerable cost — to move the building and establish a concrete block foundation for it at the Pioneer Campus.”

All of the dedications and blessings on the building were removed a few months ago, so it is no longer a sacred space nor a fitting location for any religious ceremony or ritual, Father Clinton said. All of its sacred items, such as the tabernacle, altar, relics, etc., also were removed and taken to churches in the St. Wenceslaus community or other Catholic churches.

“There are some covenants placed on this transaction that protect fundamental things that we Catholics believe in,” he said. There have been situations in the Midwest where church buildings were sold and used for inappropriate activities, he explained.

However, many of the Pioneer Power board members are Catholics and would not allow the building to be misused, he added.

In addition, the cemetery will continue to be maintained by the greater St. Wenceslaus community and the church hall was given to the person who donated the money to have it built in 2002.

“The historical sensitivity and heartstrings that are attached to this building and its history are going to be preserved. That’s what makes this a good transaction — that the church building doesn’t disappear,” Father Clinton said. “It’s a win-win situation all the way around.”

Category: Local News