Top 10 most read local news stories of 2019

| December 27, 2019 | 0 Comments


The following 10 stories were among the most read local news stories in 2019 at

  1. Father Donald DeGrood, pastor of St. John the Baptist in Savage, is appointed bishop of the Diocese of Soux Falls, South Dakota. A native of Faribault, Bishop-elect DeGrood said after receiving the Dec. 12 call from the U.S. apostolic nuncio he went to the adoration chapel to pray, and he received from God the grace to say yes. His ordination will be Feb. 13.
  2. Officials at St. Mark in St. Paul restructure the parish school. Because of a sharp decline in attendance and rising costs, school officials said April 26 they would open only their preschool in fall 2019, closing the kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms. School leaders expressed hope that they might eventually rebuild the school grade by grade.
  3. Bishop Paul Sirba of Duluth dies Dec. 1 after a heart attack at age 59. A native of Minneapolis who was raised in Bloomington, he served 10 years as bishop. Archbishop Bernard Hebda was the principal celebrant at his Dec. 6 funeral in Duluth. One of his brothers, Father Joseph Sirba, also of the Duluth diocese, gave the homily, recalling the bishop as a “good shepherd” who knew his sheep.
  4. The Catholic Spirit takes a close look at keeping the faith in the new Northeast. That part of Minneapolis includes fifth-generation residents but also trendy restaurants, a thriving arts scene, hip bars and breweries. The area’s 13 Catholic churches and chapels reach out to an emerging demographic of newly-arrived immigrants and people under 30.
  5. Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn dies Sept. 22 at age 86 in St. Paul. More than 2,000 people attended his Sept. 30 funeral at the Cathedral of St. Paul, including hundreds of laypeople, a U.S. cardinal, a dozen bishops, priests, seminarians, and religious brothers and sisters. “Archbishop Flynn was a wonderful, wonderful human being,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, a former seminary student of Archbishop Flynn’s, said in his homily.
  6. Archbishop Bernard Hebda joins his voice to a call for Minnesota to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Calling it a “moral imperative” as families seek stable lives in the state, the archbishop spoke along with business and farm groups, law enforcement and immigration advocates at a February news conference at the State Capitol. Minnesota Catholic Conference also lobbied for the change. The House, controlled by Democrats, approved the plan, but the Republican-controlled Senate didn’t vote on it.
  7. A statue of Mary is vandalized at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Several students criticized the administration for what they perceived as an inadequate response to the March 3 incident, and nearly 200 university students and staff held a prayer procession March 21 as an act of reparation for the vandalism. St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan and Richard Plumb, executive vice president and provost, condemned the vandalism in a letter March 12 and held a listening session for students March 20.
  8. An April 17 bomb threat at the University of St. Thomas prompts university officials to close the St. Paul campus. Three buildings also were evacuated. No suspicious objects were discovered and the university issued an “all clear” by late that afternoon. Similar threats were made Aug. 20 and Sept. 17, prompting more action on the part of the university. A student later was arrested in the case.
  9. A priest who served 42 years in northeast Minneapolis dies June 11 and is remembered fondly as the “Pope of Nordeast.” Father Earl Simonson was 89. He was pastor of St. Clement from 1977 to 2012, then pastor emeritus of Holy Cross until his death; 2019 marked his 50th anniversary in the priesthood.
  10. Ben Hoffman, the oldest of three brothers sexually abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, shares his story with The Catholic Spirit. In an article published May 2, Hoffman talked about the pain he endured and his path back to the Catholic Church. He credits now Bishop-elect DeGrood as having an important role in his healing. Hoffman said he shares his story at retreats and other opportunities, and he wants to dedicate his life to ministry. He hopes his story inspires his siblings’ faith, too, and he prays for Wehmeyer, that the former priest might receive God’s mercy and salvation.

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