Church of St. John of St. Paul
Rev. Louis Cornelis
First Pastor 1886 - 1887
Rev. Louis Cornelis

In the early months of 1886 the Right Rev. John Ireland, bishop of St. Paul, gave proof of the zeal and devotion which had brought him to that high office in 1884, by calling in Rev. Louis Cornelis, pastor at Mendota, to look into the possibilities of organizing an English-speaking Catholic parish on Dayton’s Bluff. 

Father Cornelis reported to the bishop that the prospects were not encouraging, for most of the people on the Bluff were newcomers, poor, and trying to build homes of their own, but that he was, nevertheless, willing to attempt the task. 

Undaunted by the magnitude of the task before him, the new pastor at once canvassed the Bluff for funds, and collected over $1,100 of which $200 was contributed by the people of the new parish. 

The Corporation of the Church of St. John was organized under the laws of the State of Minnesota on August 4, 1886, with the Right Reverend Bishop Ireland, as president of the corporation and Rev. Louis Cornelis as vice-president.

The next step in the raising of funds, always a problem confronting a new parish in a sparsely settled district, was a fair held at Knauft’s Hall, 350 East Seventh Street.  No uncertain indication of the love of the parishioners for their pastor is the fact that one of the articles raffled off was a crayon portrait of Father Cornelis. 

St. John's, the twelfth Catholic church in St. Paul, was dedicated on December 19, 1886.  Solemn high mass was celebrated by the pastor, Father Cornelis.

Father Cornelis had so spent himself in the work of organizing the parish that he was forced to retire because of ill health in June 1887. In September of the following year he died at Dearborn, Michigan. His remains, however, were brought to St. Paul, and now repose in the priests’ lot at Calvary cemetery.

Return to Pastors Page