Guardian Angels Parish has been an anchor in the Chaska community and surrounding area for over 160 years. We continue as a traditional, small-town Catholic parish while building bridges of faith to reach out to the growing community around us. We invite you to join us!
Guardian Angels exists to reach out from the Altar of Christ to educate, serve, and evangelize.
As Catholics, we come together around the Altar of Christ to be nourished and fed by both Word and Sacrament. However, we cannot stay here, we cannot limit ourselves to receiving, for we are called to go back into the world and make a difference. We accomplish this by educating, serving and evangelizing, confident that God’s spirit of generosity will permeate our hearts and minds to make a difference in the world!
Our history dates back to 1842 when the explorer Jean Baptiste Faribault invited Father Augustin Ravoux to establish a mission among the Dakota community in what would become the town of Chaska.
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 parishioner 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 site. 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 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. This picture remains in the church to the present day, placed near the side altar of Mary. Showing resiliency, within one year the parish reconstructed the church into the building that it is today.
Throughout the years the parish changed to meet the needs of a growing and changing congregation. In 1878, the Franciscans came to shepherd the parish, which they led for more than 115 years. They asked the Sisters of Christian Charity to teach in the parish school, which was established in 1869 to help form young people in the faith and provide a high-quality academic education. The parish school thrived and a high school was added in 1923 and operated until 1973. The departure of the Sisters of Christian Charity in 1992 and the Franciscan Fathers and Brothers in 1995 were major changes for the parish. Since then our parish has been served by diocesan priests of the archdiocese. Currently, our parish is led by Father Tony VanderLoop, who came to Guardian Angels in July of 2020.
Guardian Angels Catholic School closed at the end of the school year in 2021. Yet, the same resiliency that characterized the people of long ago remains. It lived on through the decades as parishioners devoted themselves to the community and support of the school, and it lives on today as we strive to meet the changing needs of the surrounding area.
Our history is celebrated and our roots run deep as a traditional Catholic parish. As the suburbs have grown to encompass the area around Guardian Angels, the parish has maintained its small-town sensibility while welcoming new community members. Today, the parish community is made up of people from surrounding suburban and rural agricultural areas with a significant Latino population. The parish offers Mass, the sacraments and family faith formation in both English and Spanish.
Our parish history of faith, resilience, and love of God and one another will continue in recognition of the tradition of those who came before us and will be guided by our mission to reach out from the Altar of Christ to educate, serve, and evangelize.