The Catholic Church of St. George was founded in 1916 when Catholics in Long Lake petitioned Father George Scheffold, OSB, pastor of the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Medina at the time, to form a Catholic church in Long Lake. Fr. Scheffold sent their request to Archbishop John Ireland, and in June 1916 articles of incorporation for the new church were signed. In appreciation of Fr. Scheffold’s efforts for the new parish, the new Catholic community named their small church St. George Catholic Church after him and took Saint George, the defiant defender of the Christian faith, as their patron saint. The original church building for the St. George community was completed in 1917 and stood on the corner of Brown Road and Grand Avenue. The first Mass celebrated at St. George was said on Christmas day 1916 in the basement of the original church. St. George was initially considered a mission church and was served by Benedictine priests from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota who also cared for the parishes of Holy Name and St. Bartholomew in Wayzata.
In 1948, the Church of St. George was brought under the custody of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who appointed Father William J. Nolan as the first resident diocesan pastor for the developing parish. The Church of St. George purchased land in 1953 and established a much needed Catholic cemetery for the Lake Minnetonka area. Despite several renovations on the original church, the St. George community had outgrown its small brick church. In the early 1960’s, St. George sought permission from the Archdiocese to build a larger church and began fundraising efforts for its construction. In 1964, St. George was one of the first parishes in the Archdiocese to have the extraordinary opportunity to experiment with the design of its church according to the religious changes occurring during the Second Vatican Council. A few noteworthy features of the current influenced by Vatican II include its cruciform shape with seating for nearly 800 people around a central freestanding altar with an overhanging canopy with a crucifix carved from linden wood in Italy.
In August 1971, the first Corn Days Festival was celebrated and it quickly became a fun annual fundraiser for the parish and an entertaining local tradition. In 1976, the community center was added on to the current church to provide space for special parish and community gatherings. For the next forty years, St. George was an active parish with many ministries that served the local community. In 2004, St. George started its Catechesis of the Good Shepherd religious education program for children in preschool through sixth grade. St. George made initial efforts to accommodate the growing number of Hispanic parishioners by offering Mass in Spanish one Sunday a month in 2004 and later in 2007, St. George began offering Spanish Mass with a Spanish Music Ministry every Sunday. Today, St. George has grown from its original 12 families to be a parish of over 300 families from Long Lake and the surrounding towns. The mission of the parish is to respond to God’s call by building Christ-centered community through education, liturgy, and prayer. In caring for one another, the St. George community lives the gospel, seeking to meet the needs of its parish, its immediate community, and the world. Dozens of parishioners serve the parish as lectors, Eucharistic ministers, catechists, and in the choir. Many more volunteer at Corn Days, an annual event that draws visitors from several counties and raises funds for the parish community. The Women’s Council, Knights of Columbus, and youth organizations engage in service activities and fundraising throughout the year. Parishioners support a wide range of charities, from St. Anne’s Place emergency shelter in Minneapolis to St. Mary’s Mission in Red Lake, and elsewhere. The Catholic Church of St. George remains a vibrant community of Catholics who are living and growing in the faith as our parish founders did over 100 years ago.
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