Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Church O' the Day: Our Lady of Ransom Oratory, Guckeen, MN


Our Lady of Ransom Oratory, located in the small hamlet of Guc­keen in Southern Minnesota is one of a growing number of places where the Traditional Latin Mass is offered each Sunday. Guckeen lies one- half mile south off Inter­state 90 between the two cities of Blue Earth and Fairmont.

The oratory occupies the struc­ture which was home to Our Lady of Mercy Parish. When the parish was closed one year after its 2002 centennial, the parishioners met to decide the future of the church pre­mises.

Out of the several options pre­sented at this meeting, it was de­cided to entrust its future to a Cath­olic religious society known as “ The Confraternity of the Tradi­tional Latin Mass,” which had been organized six years earlier and al­ready had an oratory in Alpha, Minn. The Most Rev. Bernard Har­rington of Winona gave his support to this undertaking, and designat­ed it as a place where any of the faithful who desired to attend a Triaditional Mass could fulfill their Sunday obligation, and that only the Latin Mass would be offered.

During the later 1960s and ear­ly 1970s, Our Lady of Mercy Par­ish had undergone similar transfor­mations as most other parishes in adapting to Liturgical practices. After the Confraternity acquired the use of the building, the furnish­ings which had supplanted the older appointments of the 1960s
were replaced by the traditional setting with the high and side al­tars together with the Commun­ion rail once again occupying their intended place. The resump­tion of the Traditional Mass af­ter several weeks of preparation took place on the Third Sunday of Advent in the fall of 2003 and has continued on a weekly basis since then.

One of the greatest challenges which this present community fac­es in this rural setting is reaching out to more families who would be inclined to take advantage of at­tending the Latin Mass. Fortunate­ly the consistency of our faithful small group has enabled the ora­tory to maintain a regular weekly schedule of Sunday Mass. May those who are still searching for a Latin Mass find this place and be­come a part of it.

For those of you who wish to show your gratitude to Pope Bene­dict XVI for issuing his apostolic letter,
Summorum Pontificum,
granting more generous celebra­tion of the Traditional Mass (which took effect on September 14, 2007, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) a Solemn High Mass will be offered on the same anni­versary date, Sunday, September 14, at the Oratory of Our Lady of Ransom, Guckeen, Minn., begin­ning at 5: 30 in the afternoon.

A reception will follow the Mass in the oratory dining hall ( honoring the 50 years of service
in the priesthood of Fr. Jerome Ver­dick) with refreshments for weary travelers.

readers are especial­ly welcome and if they require overnight accommodations, good motels are available in both near­by towns of Fairmont and Blue Earth.

To reach the church of Our Lady of Ransom if you travel west on Interstate Highway 90 through Blue Earth, head south on the Huntley- Guckeen exit no. 113, cross the railroad tracks, turn left on County Road 16 ( 110th Street), go a short distance to 323 Avenue, and the oratory will be in sight.

If you are traveling east on I- 90 through Fairmont, take the same Huntley- Guckeen exit no. 113 South and follow the directions above.
The Wanderer Aug 21, 2008

I don't know what will raise more questions, "oratory" or "Guckeen?"

The Catholic Encyclopedia says "As a general term, Oratory signifies a place of prayer, but technically it means a structure other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass." See More

Guckeen is just one of those settlements that either were an organized community and lost that status like Arcola in Washington County or settlements, sometimes within larger communities, that never became an organized community on their own.


The Ironic Catholic said...

I always thought an oratory was where Mass could be said without a parish in residence.

Interesting story; this is all completely new to me. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to me, too. Retirement community?


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I wish someone would turn our historic St. Michael church into an "oratory" and bring the TLM back there.

It looks like a lovely church.

You could check out St. Michael. It would make a nice "curch o' the day" but on's currently rented to a Lutheran church :(

Unknown said...

I.C.: Oratories are new to me, too. There are a few in the Wisconsin run by the Society of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Cashton and Altoona by Lacrosse and one in Wausau. Pluse a few more.

I did a search on "Guckeen." 10,000 hits, believe it or not, only one of course, on the church. Apparently it is in rich farmland and there are only four or five buildings left of what once might have been a more prosperous community.

Laura: I didn't expect a huge rush for people to request Latin Masses, but I thought that there would be some. After all, South St. Paul, where St. Augustine's is located, is at the extreme eastern end of the Archdiocese. Lots of their attendees at the Latin mass are driving a long way each Sunday.

All I can figure is that there must be a huge amount of resistance in the chancery among the less senior staff who and no pressure coming from the top.

I personally don't need Latin; I need reverence! I went last week to a parish that I hadn't been to in a long time that has had a new pastor for a year or so. Not only was it not particularly reverent, the theme of his homily reinforced the lack of reverence. I'll never go back.

I guess we're going to have to wait until these middle aged and older priests die off.

Read my post on Liturgical and Sexual Abuses of a couple of weeks ago for a reminder as to what has happened, and why it might take a long time to correct:

I'm surprised that they are renting the old St. Michael's out. I can't imagine they get much income. At St. Peter's in Mendota, where they also built a new building, they are using their old church for the weekday Masses.

Anonymous said...

The church used to be named "Our Lady of Mercy" and was a mission parish of Ss. Peter and Paul in Blue Earth(my hometown), which is six miles to the east. I remember going to Mass here several times when our family lived in Blue Earth (the Mass was squeezed in at 9 AM, between the two that were held at Ss. Peter and Paul on Sunday).

There was an article a year or so ago in the local paper about "Our Lady of Mercy" becoming an "oratory" and the use of the TLM and ad orientem worship. From what I remember, the high altar was still intact (unlike that at Ss. Peter and Paul which was moved to versus populum and the presiders chair was put in its place).

Guckeen never had many people - maybe 100 - grain elevator, gas station, post office (which I believe is gone now), bar/restaurant and a few houses, and of course the church.