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St. John the Baptist lenten traditionSt. John the Baptist church maintains the tradition of covering statues the week before Palm Sunday until Easter. Photo 2023.
St. John the Baptist Catholic ChurchFebruary 2023 view of St. John the Baptist Church, Savage.
The bell at St. John the Baptist ChurchThe bell in the tower of St. John the Baptist was saved when the third church burnt in Burnsville in 1902.
The bell was saved, recast and placed in the tower of the 1902 - 1984 brick church. When the new church
was constructed in 1984 the bell was placed in the new tower.
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church bell towerFebruary 2023 view of St. John the Baptist Church;s bell tower with the historic bell from the Burnsville church, which burnt in 1902.
St. John the Baptist First CommunionExact year unknown - included Loretta born 1902, and Lillian Kennelly born 1899 (row 2). Believe Florence Kennelly born 1901 also in photo.
St. John the Baptist 1902 church in SavageA token of St. John the Baptist Church as the 1902 structure was torn down.
Pope Francis names Savage pastor next bishop of Sioux Falls Savage Pacer - December 18, 2019 By Christine Schuster cschuster@swpub.com

Father Donald DeGrood was sitting in his office at Saint John the Baptist Church and School in downtown Savage last Monday afternoon when he received a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize.

He didn’t answer, and the number rang again. DeGrood answered that time. A U.S. delegate of Pope Francis was on the line and told DeGrood that the pope had appointed him the next bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

He put the phone down and went to the adoration chapel.

"After just a little bit of time of prayer, he (God) said in my heart — and I know it with profound certainty — I want you to say yes,” DeGrood said.

DeGrood is set to be ordained as bishop of the diocese of Sioux Falls in February. It’s a bittersweet goodbye, he and several parishioners said this week.

On Monday afternoon, students filed into the school’s gym for a surprise pep rally to celebrate DeGrood’s new assignment.

DeGrood stepped inside the darkened gym and the lights flipped on to reveal hundreds of cheering students and staff carrying “DeGrood-on-a-stick” paper masks of their pastor.

"I have these emotions that go up and down," he told the students. "It's such a beautiful grace, I know it's what God wants, but then there's sadness because I have to say goodbye to you guys."

Longtime parishioner and teacher Kate Diedrick said DeGrood revitalized the faith in their church community.

"He has a dedicated response to people," she said. "He really, genuinely wants to get all of us to heaven, and that's so very important for all of us when we are struggling with today's world."

"The role of the bishop is to be the chief shepherd in a particular area, called the diocese," DeGrood said, adding the role follows the example of Jesus. "Jesus is the good shepherd, loving the flock, calling them to friendship with God.”

The Sioux Falls diocese's boundaries are home to 570,000 people, with more than 110,000 Catholics in 119 parishes. DeGrood leads more than 2,000 families at Saint John.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis called the pope's selection of a priest in the archdiocese an honor.

"In making this selection, Pope Francis seems to have recognized the extraordinary priestly gifts that have long been apparent to Father DeGrood’s parishioners and brother priests," Hebda said in a written statement.

DeGrood is originally from Faribault and joined the priesthood for the archdiocese in 1997 after graduating from Saint Paul Seminary.

His previous assignments in the archdiocese include vicar for clergy, pastor of Blessed Sacrament in Saint Paul and Saint Peter in Forest Lake, spiritual director at Saint John Vianney College Seminary, and parochial vicar at All Saints Church in Lakeville.

He was appointed to Savage in 2017 and said it'll be challenging to leave behind his community and everything that's familiar to him.

"There's a lot of humility in this community and a lot of good, good people," he said.

But the new assignment is a homecoming in other ways for the self-described "farm boy at heart." He said the move to Sioux Falls will reconnect him to a more rural area.

"It's a beautiful interior experience for me," he said.

St. John the Baptist Church SavageFr. Leonard Jenniges, pastor and Fr. Jim Zappa associate of St. John the Baptist, Savage.
St. John the Baptist SchoolDeanna, Tina and their mother Deschene at St. John's spring fling. April 26, 1978 Burnsville Current.
Fr. Leonard JennigesPastor Fr. Jenniges, Christmas 1977 St. John the Baptist, Savage.
St. John the Baptist of Byrnesvile 1888May 19, 1888 St. Paul Globe reports: The Crusaders' Total Abstinence Society of St. Paul has accepted an invitation from St. John the Baptist Society of Byrnesville, Dakota County, to visit them May 20, 1888. Members will assemble at the union depot at 7:45 a.m. to take the train for Hamilton Station where they will be met by the home society and conducted to the church, where mass will be celebrated at 10:30.
St. John the Baptist has new entry 1980In 1980 St. John the Baptist added a new entrance to the church.
Annual Antique show 1971November 4, 1971 - Dakota County Tribune

Bob Allen, manager of St. John the Baptist Church's semi-annual antique show....
St. John the BaptistInterior view of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Savage 2020.
Father Ken's Jubilee 1913June 21, 1913 - Catholic Bulletin -

Twenty fifth anniversary celebrated June 14 Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, Savage for Father John Kane...
St. John the Baptist SavageAnother entry into St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Savage, 2020.
Archbishop at St. John the Baptist 2017Archbishop Bernard Anthony Hebda at the installation of Father Don DeGrood as the new pastor July, 2017.
St. John the Baptist's five churchesAn artists concept of the first three churches that stood in Burnsville until the fire in 1902.
The 1902 brick church the present church built in 1984.
A history of St. John the Baptist 1965Published in 1965 in a parish directory, this is a transcript of the text.
Watch out, the Irish are coming 1961March 16, 1961 - Minnesota Valley Review

All the sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle will be out in force this weekend celebrating St. Patrick's Day at St. John the Baptist's A NIGHT WITH THE IRISH...
Side of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, SavageSide view of St. John the Baptist church before being replaced by present church.
Inside cover of early Baptism RegisterThis register in Latin uses the Byrnesville spelling of the township.
Baptism Font - St. John the Baptist, Savage 2017The Baptism font and Easter Candle are located at the entry to the church.
St. John the Baptist historic bellInscription on the historic bell hanging in the present Church in Savage. This bell was saved from the church when it burnt in Burnsville and placed in the tower of the 1902 structure.
Bell tower at St. John the Baptist Catholic ChurchIn 1866, a frame structure (Church 2, no photo) was built and a new bell that is still used today weighing 1,800 pounds was installed in the tower. This bell has "rang" from four of the St. John's towers. Until 1965 St. John the Baptist in Savage was the parish for most of Burnsville, until the creation of Mary Mother of the Church.
St. John the Baptist historyA history of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, established in Byrnesville/Burnsville and now in Savage.
St. John the Baptist pastor Father Donald DeGrood named bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota 2019From the Catholic Spirit - December 12, 2019

Pope Francis has named Father Donald DeGrood bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the apostolic nuncio to the United States announced Dec. 12, 2019.

A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Bishop-elect DeGrood, 54, has served as pastor of St. John the Baptist in Savage since 2017.

He was ordained in 1997 by Archbishop Harry Flynn. He has ministered as parochial vicar of All Saints in Lakeville (1997-2000), spiritual director at St. John Vianney College Seminary (2000-2004), pastor of St. Peter in Forest Lake (2004-2013), pastor of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul (2013-2015) and as the archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy (2013-2017).

Born Feb. 14, 1965, in rural Faribault, Bishop-elect DeGrood is the fourth of Robert and Joanne DeGrood’s five sons. He grew up on a nearby farm. His father died in 2003, and his mother continues to live on the family farm. He has five nieces and four nephews.

He attended Catholic grade school in Faribault and graduated in 1983 from Bethlehem Academy High School, which is run by the Sinsinawa Dominicans. He attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and spent two of his undergraduate years at St. John Vianney College Seminary discerning his vocation.

After graduating in 1987 with a philosophy degree, he worked in business, first as a shoe sales representative and manager, and then at Land O’Lakes as a feed specialist. He entered The St. Paul Seminary in 1993 earned a masters of divinity in 1997. He was ordained that year at age 32. He holds a masters of divinity from St. Paul Seminary and later earned a certificate in spiritual direction from the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha in 2008.

He has served on numerous boards for the archdiocese and related Catholic institutions, including the Archdiocesan Ministerial Review Board (2015-2017), Clergy Review Board (2013-2015), Ministerial Standards Board (2013-2015), Pastors Review Board (2009-2012) and the Incardination Committee (2016-2017). He was also a trustee for The Seminaries of St. Paul (2011-2019).

Bishop-elect DeGrood is a member of an ad hoc committee related to the archdiocese’s Clergy Support Initiative, a spiritual director for priests and a supervising pastor, who mentors recently ordained priests in their ministry. He was a “developing member” of the Institute for Ongoing Clergy Formation, an initiative The St. Paul Seminary launched in 2015 to support priests as they live out their vocation. He has also been a spiritual director for the Institute for Priestly Formation’s summer program.

In his role as the archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy, Bishop-elect DeGrood served as a liaison between the IOCF and archdiocese, conveying clergy’s needs to the institute director so resources to meet them could be developed and implemented.

He has also ministered to victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and he has recently served on a committee of priests and laypeople, including victim-survivors, who are working on efforts to bring healing to the local Church from the impact of clergy sex abuse in the archdiocese.

In a February 2019 interview with The Catholic Spirit, Ben Hoffman, a clergy abuse survivor in his mid-20s who lives in the Twin Cities, described his first interaction with Father DeGrood as pivotal in his healing process. In 2015, Father DeGrood, whom he didn’t know at the time, approached him at a retreat and said, “I’m sorry.”

“He said, I’m sorry. I’m sorry about everything that’s happened to you, your family,” Hoffman recalled. “He just apologized.”

“That’s when I truly understood and learned what the word ‘sincere’ was, because the way he said it, the look on his face, everything about that moment I will remember for the rest of my life,” Hoffman told The Catholic Spirit. “He was just sorry. He didn’t do anything. It wasn’t his fault. But his compassion and his love for people was eye-opening to me.”

Others have named Bishop-elect DeGrood as an important influence in their vocation to the diaconate or priesthood. In an email interview ahead of his Dec. 7 ordination to the permanent diaconate, St. John the Baptist parishioner Deacon Joel Neisen told The Catholic Spirit that as his pastor, Bishop-elect DeGrood “has been a great mentor.”

“He is a man who loves God and his faith and desires that others fall in love as well,” he said.

Bishop-elect DeGrood was ordained a priest alongside Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who said the two met the first day of seminary and have been close friends since.

“Father DeGrood has proven to be one of the finest pastors in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who brings his deep relationship with Jesus Christ to people of all ages in his parishes,” Bishop Cozzens said in a Dec. 12 statement from the archdiocese. “He brings a healing presence to many people and has worked closely with victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse. He is also a revered priest in the archdiocese and served very well as our Vicar for Clergy.

“He is the kind of priest who other priests seek out for spiritual direction and mentorship because he is so deeply rooted and such a compassionate leader,” Bishop Cozzens continued. “Most of all, he is a man of prayer who will bring his deep relationship with Jesus Christ to all as the bishop of Sioux Falls. The diocese is blessed to have a visionary leader who will accompany the lay faithful and priests deeper into their own holiness of life.”

Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis said that the archdiocese “is honored that the Holy Father would have chosen a priest of our archdiocese to become the next bishop of Sioux Falls.”

“In making this selection, Pope Francis seems to have recognized the extraordinary priestly gifts that have long been apparent to Father DeGrood’s parishioners and brother priests,” he said in the archdiocese’s statement. “When I arrived in the archdiocese in 2015, I felt blessed to have him serving as Vicar for Clergy and pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish. I quickly noted his gentle spirit, his compassion for his flock, and his deep love for Christ and his Church.

“I have been especially impressed by the depth and authenticity of his outreach to, and respect for, survivors of clergy sexual abuse,” the archbishop continued. “The faithful of the Diocese of Sioux Falls will soon be welcoming a kind, loving and caring shepherd. I very much look forward to working with him as a brother bishop in our Province.”

The Diocese of Sioux Falls was established in 1889 from territory of what was then the Archdiocese of St. Paul. It is comprised of the part of South Dakota east and north of the Missouri River. The area’s total population is 570,000, with more than 110,000 Catholics in 119 parishes.

According to the 2019 Official Catholic Directory, the diocese is served by 129 priests, 39 permanent deacons and more than 200 religious sisters and brothers. It includes 12 Catholic hospitals, a Catholic college, three Catholic high schools and 22 Catholic elementary schools. Like the Cathedral of St. Paul, its St. Joseph Cathedral was designed by E.L. Masqueray.

Bishop-elect DeGrood will succeed Bishop Paul Swain, who has served as bishop of Sioux Falls since 2006. In September 2018, he turned 75, the age at which bishops traditionally retire. Pope Francis has accepted Bishop Swain’s resignation, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, also announced Dec. 12.

Bishop-elect DeGrood’s episcopal ordination and installation as the ninth bishop of Sioux Falls is scheduled for Feb. 13, 2020.

He follows in the footsteps of three other priests of the archdiocese who served as bishops of Sioux Falls: Bishop Thomas O’Gorman (1896-1921), Bishop Paul Dudley (1978-1995) and Archbishop Robert Carlson, now archbishop of St. Louis (1995-2004).

Bishop Paul Sirba, who was named bishop of Duluth in 2009 and died of cardiac arrest Dec. 1, was the last priest of the archdiocese who was appointed a bishop of another diocese.

Just prior to that, in 2008, Bishop Richard Pates and Bishop John LeVoir, both previously of the archdiocese, were appointed to the dioceses of Des Moines and New Ulm, respectively. More than 30 priests of the archdiocese have been named bishops of another diocese over the archdiocese’s 170-year history.

Bishop Cozzens is the priest of the archdiocese most recently consecrated a bishop in 2013.
Early Baptism Book St. John the BaptistAlthough from the earliest days of the parish, this book, unlike others has used the Burnsville Spelling rather than
Byrnesville for the town.
Fr. Clarence Zlotkowski - pastor 1958 - 1961 - St. John the Baptist School BusThe chief bus driver of St. John the Baptist parish school is Fr. Clarence Zlotkowski, pastor, shown around 1965.
St. John the Baptist Cemetery 2019St. John the Baptist Cemetery with Judicial Road sign.
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