The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, a local landmark with its clock tower and colorful, ornate interior, parallels the history of New Ulm.
In 1854, German immigrants traveled from Fort Snelling to where the Minnesota and Cottonwood rivers met to begin the settlement of New Ulm.
In the fall of 1856, Catholicism began with a mission to the Anton Kraus Farm, now known as the Pfaender Farm near New Ulm. Franz X. Weninger preached on the farm.
Catholics living in and around New Ulm began to build a small wooden church on the north side of New Ulm. Construction of the church was progressing slowly. A partially completed church was destroyed by defenders of New Ulm to prevent Indian attackers from using it as a barricade during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
Before the war, a log church, St. Joseph’s Church, was built in Cottonwood Township, about five miles south of New Ulm. Farmers worked on the church from 1859 to 1861 when the roof and windows were made. The property was sold in 1965 but there is still a cemetery there.
The new Catholic settlers of Ulm established a building fund with funds from the US government from compensation for the loss of their first church in the US Dakota War.
Father Alexander Berghold became the resident pastor of the Holy Trinity on January 10, 1869, although the church was not completed.
The Baptiste Carl Brewery, across from the old St. Mary’s School, was used for worship. The church was consecrated on September 11, 1870.
Berghold created plans for his various mission churches and began their construction without the help of architects. He built new churches in New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, Springfield and Jordan in Scott County.
Other Berghold accomplishments include the founding of St. Michael’s Academy in 1872 and St. Alexander’s Hospital in 1884.
A versatile writer, Berghold’s works included “Revenge of the Indians” “History of New Ulm,”The massacre of the Indians, “Guide for German emigrants” and a book of poems, “Prairie Rosen.”
At 73, he had mastered eight languages.
In 1876, the Minnesota Legislature, led by Governor Pillsbury, bestowed upon Berghold the state’s grateful appreciation for, through his relentless efforts, he attracted many settlers to Minnesota.
Berghold served 23 years in Holy Trinity Parish.
On July 15, 1881, a powerful tornado severely damaged Holy Trinity Church, located on the site of the Catholic Schools Middle School building in the Ulm area. The steeple of the church was carried just above the roof of the church. Bells were found in the street. The roof of the church and the new wing of the classrooms were destroyed.
The parish of the church has promised to pray the Rosary every Saturday evening if such a storm does not recur. The rosary is still said every Saturday evening.
A new church steeple, taller than the one swept away by the storm, was soon built.
Berghold went to Europe to visit his family in September 1888. On his return he began to promote the construction of a new church which is now the present Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
The old church altar was deemed too small to be used in the new church, so it was removed and transported to Ivanhoe. A new altar that cost $ 1,500 was installed in October 1903.
The church sanctuary was created with many colors. The artists of the shrine were Alexander Schwendinger, Chris Heller and Anton Gag. The church was considered the most beautiful place of worship in Minnesota.
Over the years many changes including renovations and redecorations have been made to the church altar, sanctuary, paintings, statues and pews. In 1940, two new entrances were built. A terrazzo floor was laid and the interior of the church was repainted. The original paintings have been cleaned and restored.
On November 18, 1957, it was announced that the Church of the Holy Trinity would be the new cathedral for the diocese established by Pope Pius XII in southern Minnesota.
Bishop Alphonse Schladweiler was ordained first bishop of the new diocese of Ulm in the cathedral on January 30, 1958. Bishop Raymond A. Lucker was installed in 1986, Bishop John D. Nienstedt on August 6, 2001. Bishop John M. LeView was installed on September 15, 2008 as the fourth and current bishop of the diocese.
The religious community of the region of Sainte-Croix was formed, comprising the parishes of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, of Sainte-Marie, of Saint-Georges, of Saint-Jean and of Saint-Gregory the Great. Mgr. Douglas Grams has been appointed pastor of the five parishes. They share priests and staff who assist 6,400 members who make up the community.
A new church organ was blessed by Bishop LeSee on August 13, 2017. It replaced an organ built by the New Ulm firm of Vogelpohl & Spaeth.
Bishop John Richter retired from active ministry at the Cathedral on July 26, 2017 after 53 years of service. He estimates that he celebrated 30,000 masses.
“It has been a joy to have served you for the past 15 years,” Richter said in his post about New Ulm. “It was my desire to help you come a little closer to God, and most importantly, to help you go to Heaven.”
Richter accepted a chaplain position at Divine Providence Community Home at Sleepy Eye.
“Although 150 years may seem like a long time, it is a relatively short time when we remember that Christians waited for the Second Coming of Christ for 2,000 years. “ Grams said in a message to the religious community in the Holy Cross area.
“Tensions and challenges continue to be a part of our lives. But our faith allows us to know, love and serve God at this time and in the place where we come together to nourish ourselves with Scripture and the sacraments ”, Grams continued. “May we respond to the signs of the times with the light of the gospel and be a source of hope and inspiration for those who will follow. “
The members of the Holy Trinity Parish 150th Anniversary Committee are Msgr. Douglas Grams, Elroy E. Ubl, George Glotzbach, JoAnne Griebel, Amber Bentler, Doris Weise, Judy Sellner and Marilyn Hesse.
and Fritz Busch
Photos by Elroy Ubl
or from its collection