ST. ANTHONY - The small and humble town of St. Anthony: home of just about 90 people.

Driving near corn fields and through its dusty dirt roads just a few miles to the northwest of Albany, you can spot a building from miles away.

It almost seems out of place in comparison to the farm land surrounding the area, but St. Anthony’s Church has been a Stearns County community fixture for well over 100 years.

The Church has history dating back to the 1800’s and many in Stearns County have been attending its services for decades. It's a place for the surrounding community to worship, celebrate and catch up on the latest gossip.

Ralph Stich has done maintenance work for the church for over 20 years, he says the small community of St. Anthony bursts to life for Sunday services.

"Usually after mass there's a bunch of people that stand around the church and talk sometimes for a half hour or 45 minutes before they leave."

The church holds mass on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. Stich says hundreds attend the church from surrounding communities, due to a lack of Sunday services at other parishes.

"On Sunday mornings the church is usually full, which seats about 200 to 220 people. We have people come from neighboring parishes: Freeport, Albany, St. Francis."

The church website (yes-they have a website!) says settlers started building the church in 1865 and it was finished around 1900.  Pieces of history are scattered through the building: Stich says some of the alter artifacts came from Germany.

"I was told there was a smaller church here at one time which burned down and then they put up this church and the parish house was put up in 1918. So it's an old church but it's still in pretty good shape," Stich says.

 

St. Anthony's Church (Dan DeBaun, WJON)