Church of St. John of St. Paul
Rev. Thomas F. Gleeson
Third Pastor 1894 -- 1929
Rev. Thomas F. Gleeson

The third pastor of St. John’s, Rev. Thomas F. Gleeson, came from Northfield to the post which he was to hold for thirty-five years. It was at this time, in September 1894, that the first assistant, Rev. Edward T. Lee, came to St. John’s. 

Father Gleeson found in his new charge a church, a rectory and a new school, but along with these, a heavy indebtedness. The dry bones of the minutes of the corporation meetings take on living flesh when we consider the heroic way in which the little parish of some 300 families held its own during a series of trying years, and emerged, before the death of Father Gleeson in 1929, with a new church and a new rectory. 

In 1913 Father Gleeson celebrated his silver jubilee.  On June 26 of that year, Right Rev. John J. Lawler auxiliary bishop of the diocese, and seventy-five priests gathered in the church for the solemn high mass, celebrated by the jubiliarian.

Mayor H. P. Keller, representing the City of St. Paul; Daniel Lawler, the Knights of Columbus; T. J. Doyle, the Ancient Order of Hibernians; and J. A. Seeger, the Dayton’s Bluff Commercial Club, were the principal speakers at a celebration held on June 30 in the Odd Fellows’ Hall, at Reaney and Forest streets, in recognition of the work done by Father Gleeson for the church and community. At this gathering "Father Tom," as he was affectionately called, was presented with a purse by the members of the congregation in a spirit of gratitude for the work he had done in his nineteen years among them. 

The first meeting to discuss the erection of a new church took place in 1919. The entire sum of $125,000 necessary was pledged within the parish itself.  On Easter Sunday, March 25, 1923, the parishioners attended their first solemn service in the new brick and Bedford stone building in modem Gothic style.  The new church might have well been the cause of pardonable pride on the part of Father Gleeson. 

The new church was, however, only one step in the development of the parish property.  A twenty-one room brick parish house was completed in September of 1927, at a cost of $19,500, and on December 19.

Father Gleeson lived for only two years in his new home, and died after a short illness on March 3, 1929. As his successor, Rev. James E. Doyle, pointed out in his first year book, Father Gleeson "had St. John’s in mind and heart even to the last. The bulk of his modest estate will come to the parish he served so long and so faithfully." 

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