Parish profile – Sacred Heart, Sauk Rapids

While the parish’s Catholic roots in Sauk Rapids date back to the 1850s, the first Mass was celebrated July 14, 1918, and the parish was officially incorporated May 1, 1919. It has 1,763 households with 3,899 members. JoAnn Mo, parish secretary, and Dana Howard, director of communications and finance, answered the following questions.

Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids.
Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids.

Q: What is the most interesting facet of your church building?

A: A unique aspect of our church is the wall of glass separating the gathering space from the worship space, and the stained glass which uses color and movement to tell about baptism and our journey home to our Lord. Another unique aspect is that the sanctuary floor and steps are made from the pews of our old church.

Q: What is the most popular ministry at your parish?

A: One of our most appreciated ministries is that of prayer blankets. All babies baptized in the parish receive a prayer blanket. In addition, our hospital visitors bring the blankets with them on visits and leave them with our sick members.

Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids interior.
Sacred Heart Parish in Sauk Rapids interior.

One of our most unique groups is our St. Arnold’s home brewing group. This group of about eight members meets regularly for fellowship and to share their interest in home brewing.

A new program we are trying this year is an adult component on youth group nights. Wednesday Night Live consists of a simple meal, followed by a group activity. Then we break up into groups by age: sixth through eighth grade, ninth through 12th grade, and adults.

Q: What is an interesting historical fact or anecdote about your parish?

A: During 1941 when the steeple was being repaired, the church worshiped in the local Rapids Theater, and meetings were held in a room above the liquor store. For various reasons, it took almost 40 years before the parish was able to worship on the main floor of the old downtown church building. Our new building was dedicated in 2003 and our expansion space that includes classrooms, offices and a fellowship hall opened in December 2015.

Meet the pastor

Father Ralph Zimmerman
Father Ralph Zimmerman

Father Ralph Zimmerman grew up in St. Cloud at St. Anthony Parish and is a “lifer” in Catholic schools: St. Anthony’s Grade School, Crosier Seminary Prep High School and Junior College in Onamia, and St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville.

He was ordained June 5, 1976, and has served the following parishes: St. Joseph in Waite Park, Immaculate Conception in Becker, St. Mary in Melrose; Our Lady of the Lake in Big Lake, the twinned parishes of Immaculate Conception in Osakis and St. Nicholas in Belle River, the parish cluster of Christ the King in Browerville, St. Joseph in Clarissa and St. Joseph in Bertha; the cluster of St. Wendelin in Luxemburg, Holy Cross in Pearl Lake and Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Rockville; and now is in his second year at Sacred Heart, Sauk Rapids.

Q: What inspired you to become a priest?

A: I was inspired to become a priest by the parish priests at St. Anthony’s when I was in grade school and by my family who supported me. Grandma’s prayers were also a great help!

Q: What do you enjoy most about your daily life as a priest?

A: In my daily life as a priest I most enjoy the time I have for prayer and liturgy, and all the wonderfully crazy things that can happen on any given day.

Q: What was the theme of a favorite homily that you preached?

A: Favorite homily theme? They all are — I hope they all have some message. I especially enjoy the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent.

Author: The Visitor

The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

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