MUST SEE VIDEO: Man with cancer rebuilds abandoned Minnesota chapel!

ORIGINAL: Published on: Oct 26, 2014 @ 16:36

WOW.  Just… WOW.

From 2012.

I am not sure how to get hold of any of these good people, I’d be happy to come to celebrate Holy Mass in that chapel – of course with the necessary recognition of the diocese – in the older form, as this church was built to house. It would be my pleasure.

WATCH: A Man Dying Of Cancer Walks Into An Abandoned Church, And Finds An Unexpected Miracle.

Between Greg Thomas’s amazing journey to remission and the church being restored to the delight of the surrounding community, this really is a feel good story all around.

The restored church is situated in rural Minnesota, and beyond being just beautiful, it has become the site for many new memories. After Thomas’s restoration was completed, he entered the church not as a handyman, but as a wedding guest. His good friend and his friend’s fiancé became the first couple to get married in the church in decades.

Even more exciting, two filmmakers found the church and used it as a filming location for their film “Memorial Day”, which tells the story of a soldier and his grandfather, a WWII vet. Thomas even had a small role in the film!

UPDATE: 2 Nov 1604 GMT:

Today I had an informative voicemail (through skype, see sidebar) from a man who called around to see how my might help that chapel.  He seems to have made the first connections to open up possibilities about a Mass at the chapel.

Here’s the deal.  Some of you readers live in the Montgomery, MN area or are pretty close (Twin Cities).  Perhaps a group might form locally which could advance such a project.  With the information I just gained, I could put you in touch with some people who have a measure of control over the chapel.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Netmilsmom says:

    It’s too far for us to come, but I would be willing to send a donation for the rest of the restoration and upkeep.

  2. Michael says:

    It would indeed be wonderful if the traditional form could be offered there, especially since it appears from the altar setup that parish didn’t have to suffer at the hands of the post-Council wreckovators.

  3. APX says:

    Michael, that church hasn’t had a congregation in 100 years. If there is some type of national/state historical foundation that has the ability to designate a building a national historic site, they should be contacted. Here in Canada churches such as this would be designated as a national historic site and legally protected from renovations that detract from it’s historical design. In Canada the government also supplies funds for its upkeep. The old stone church and two storey stone rectory that was built 100 years ago that my ancestors helped build when they immigrated from Hungary is now a national historic site. The Archdiocese still has control over it (so it can only be used for approved Catholic events), but the government pays for its upkeep and has made it a federal offence to remove the altar rail, high altar, side altars, etc.

  4. mr205 says:

    Speechless and in tears. Thanks for posting.

  5. RJHighland says:

    Hey Father just did some quick research and it St. Johns in Montgomery, Minnesota. I don’t know where exactly your located in Minnesota, it is a big state but it’s not like its in Flordia. It’s about 80 miles south of Minneapolis.

  6. Darren says:

    A beautiful story

  7. moconnor says:

    What a wonderful church and story of healing. If fund arises to donate to, I will help in what way I can.

  8. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you!

    The station loading acknowledges KARE 11 in Minneapolis/St. Paul as the source for this fine report.

    Here is a story from April 2014:

    And here, a variant text, with additional information, by the reporter, Boyd Huppert:

    This also has a link to the St. John’s Chapel Facebook page, which seems active:

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    James Cromwell acted in Memorial Day not long after he played Pope Pius XII… The “CinemaDP” account has an official trailer on YouTube, and, for what it is worth, it looks like all the viewer reviews at IMDB are favorable…

  10. Mike Morrow says:

    This is one of those rare satisfying local news items. Thank you for posting the amazing story of St. John Catholic Church and Cemetery.

    That video report was posted in November 2012. On April 20, 2014 an update on what’s been happening appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, here. There has been a considerable amount of community involvement with the project since the story was posted two years ago. It is interesting that Mr. Greg Thomas is not from Minnesota, nor is he Catholic, apparently.

    This church and cemetery are southwest of Minneapolis, a mile west of Montgomery.

  11. Muv says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for posting this. I saw it some time ago, and was glad to watch it again see the updates that Venerator Sti Lot has found.

    Recently I have discovered a similar story, of a man who moved to a village in Norfolk, about 20 miles from Walsingham, and stumbled across a ruined church when he was walking in the woods. He found evidence that satanists were meeting in the ruins. Thanks to his efforts the church has been rebuilt and is now under the care of a trust. It is used for “multi-denominational services” – perhaps that might stretch to Mass in the old rite?,_Norfolk

    This is the trust’s website, the page with photos:-

  12. Back pew sitter says:

    What a beautiful story and kudos to the TV station that reported it so nicely. God bless Greg Thomas.

  13. Allan S. says:

    Reading this, I immediately recalled my Friday office at lunch (Sext) which includes:

    Ant. Blessed are they * that dwell in thy house, O Lord.
    Psalm 83(1-8) [1]
    83:1 How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! * my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.
    83:2 My heart and my flesh * have rejoiced in the living God.
    83:3 For the sparrow hath found herself a house, * and the turtledove a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones:
    83:4 Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, * my king and my God.
    83:5 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: * they shall praise thee for ever and ever.
    83:6 Blessed is the man whose help is from thee: * in his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps, in the vale of tears, in the place which he hath set.
    83:7 For the lawgiver shall give a blessing,
    they shall go from virtue to virtue: * the God of gods shall be seen in Sion.
    V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
    R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

    Psalm 83(9-13) [2]
    83:9 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: * give ear, O God of Jacob.
    83:10 Behold, O God our protector: * and look on the face of thy Christ.
    83:11 For better is one day in thy courts * above thousands.
    83:12 I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, * rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners.
    83:13 For God loveth mercy and truth: * the Lord will give grace and glory.
    83:13 He will not deprive of good things them that walk in innocence: * O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

    The reference to the steps (83:6) was particularly pointed. Of course there’s also Thursday Matins with:

    68:12 For the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up: * and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

    (sarcasm)It’s all just a big coincidence though. (/sarcasm)

  14. fishonthehill says:

    What an awesome story! Inspiration for a roadtrip from Brooklyn NY to say Mass there. Maybe I will!

  15. Lili of the fields says:

    This is a very moving story, I’m speechless.

  16. RobS says:

    God at work. Please bless this man another hundredfold, Lord.

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    Or within our own diocese, I would greatly enjoy it if you would celebrate another Mass at St Augustine Church in New Diggings, built in 1844 by Ven Samuel Mazzuchelli!

  18. SKAY says:

    Truly inspirational –thank you for posting it Father Z.

    Wiping away the tears once again.
    Thank you also for your comment Allan S.

  19. mburduck says:

    Aw geez, Father, you’ve done it again–I “noticed tears in my office.” I must be turning into an old softie……

    A wonderful story for sure. Perhaps one day I can visit that small but beautiful house of God.


  20. Mike says:

    Doth one sense a pilgrimage converging?

  21. av8er says:

    Praise be to God!

  22. Matimus says:

    The church is located is in the Archdiocese of St. Paul. The closest active parish would be Most Holy Redeemer in Montgomery.

  23. StJude says:

    Wow. That is just… .. wow.

  24. jilly4life says:

    fishonthehill, it is about 18 hours from Syracuse NY to Minneapolis MN on I90, add a few more hours to get out of Brooklyn and you are there. [Road trip!]

  25. aegsemje says:

    I live near there, close to Northfield. Let me know if there is anything I can do.

  26. Kathleen10 says:

    How lovely a story. God bless this man. Kudos to the news station too.

  27. KaTeKu says:

    The gospel verse over the iron gate (“I am the way and the truth and the life”) is written in czech. What are the connetions I wonder? Was it originally built by some emigrants from Bohemia?

  28. irishromancatholic says:

    Beautiful story and a lovely church. I don’t live far away and have visited the church frequently. I would be happy to talk to the pastor of Holy Redeemer if this would help Father. I can serve Mass for you also if you need a server in the EF of the Roman Rite.

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Yes, lots of Bohemians arrived in the mid-19th century, and a sense of the heritage continues, if the “Montgomery, Minnesota” Wikipedia article and its link to the city’s “official website” are anythng to go by!

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