Guardian Angels Church History

Guardian Angels Church History

Our history dates back to 1842 when the explorer J.B. Faribault invited Father Ravoux to establish a mission among the Sioux Indians in what would become the town of Chaska. He built a small log chapel, but dismantled it three years later when the Indians threatened to burn it down. The chapel was sold to the Catholics of Wabasha and floated down the river to it’s new home.

In the 1850s the Benedictine Fathers made frequent visits to our area, mostly to the German communities along the Minnesota River, to determine when a community was large enough to support a church.

Minnesota achieved statehood in 1858. During that year the Benedictines decided that the Chaska community was large enough to support a church. This new church was completed by the year 1860 and was a simple, small brick building with planks on blocks of wood that served as pews. Upon completion, the congregation had difficulty choosing a name so they decided to have Michael Guenser’s two-year-old daughter look at pictures of saints and select one. She chose the picture of the Guardian Angel, and so the church was named Guardian Angels Catholic Church.

By 1864, rapid growth in the area saw the need for a larger church and work began on a new building in 1868. This new church served the community’s needs until 1885 when construction began on the present church. This new building was an imposing structure on the landscape, constructed of brick with a steeple towering 162 feet above the street. The interior ceiling rose 39 feet above the floor. It was described as one of the most adorned structures in the area.

On October 7, 1902 disaster struck when an early morning fire destroyed the church exterior and toppled the steeple onto a neighboring house. By 5 o’clock that afternoon, all that remained were the four charred brick walls and the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, blessed by Pope Pius IX in 1871. Showing resiliency, within one year the parish reconstructed the church into the building that it is today.

Throughout the years, and especially after Vatican II, changes to meet the needs of a different congregation in a different era took place. The changes did not compromise the architecture of the church, or the tradition of its people. Most notable of the changes was the departure of the Franciscan Fathers and Brothers in 1995. The Franciscans had been part of Guardian Angels for 117 years but left to pursue other challenges with their limited number of priests.

That same year our parish warmly welcomed our second Diocesan priest, Father Tim Rudolphi. During his tenure at GA, the “Resolve to Restore” Renovation Committee, Pastoral Council, Finance Board and Father Tim accepted the challenge to renew and redecorate the church without destroying the integrity of the structure.

Father Tim was the first of several diocesan priests to serve at Guardian Angels. Following his departure in 2000, the church welcomed Father Lawrence Johnson (2000-2007), Father Paul Jarvis (2007-2011), Father Doug Ebert (2011-2014), and Father Fernando Ortega (2014-2017).

In spring of 2017, Guardian Angels welcomed Father William Deziel, the current priest.

Our history is celebrated and our roots run deep as a traditional Catholic Church. Today Guardian Angels is a parish community in a small town setting comprised of people from a suburban and a rural agricultural environment with a significant Hispanic population.

Our church history of strength, resilience, love of God and man will continue through the lessons taught us by our forefathers.