St Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church
Groton, SD
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

In the spring of 1881 the first Catholics settled on U.S. land. In May of 1908 Rev. J.T. Twohig of Britton held the first divine services. That year trustees were chosen and Father Stephen Duren, pastor of Holy Cross Church of Ipswich, asked Bishop Thomas O’Gorman to allow him to reside in Groton. Father Duren purchased, with his own funds, nearly two blocks out of Prior Outlet Number 4 opposite the City Park, some of the choicest residential property in the city.

Father Duren said his first mass at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church January 17, 1909. After mass he called the congregation together for a business meeting. He soon caused a pew rent subscription list to be circulated. This list brought six subscribers at $100 annually for two years and in thirty minutes $950 was subscribed and all involved were very happy with the results.

After having been a mission for 40 years, Groton was established as a parish on July 10, 1921. Rev. J.P. Halpine was appointed as the first resident pastor. Father Estegaard soon replaced Halpine then Father Thomas Shanley served the Groton and Andover parishes until 1949. Father E.J. Coyne served from 1945 until 1965. In 1965, Father Marvin McPhee was appointed and served the parish until 1980.

During this time, many renovations happened to the parish. The church proper was renovated and carpeted in 1966. An addition was created in 1970 to seat 70 people. In 1973, electronic bells were installed and dedicated in memory of Ross and Anna Funk, lifelong members of the church who left a generous gift to be used for construction of a ne church. Father Donald Koehn of the Conde-Turton parish served for a short time until Farther Robert Fox arrived in June of 1980. Following Fox, Father John Garvey and Father Albert Cizewski served the parish. Then, Father McPhee returned. Upon his retirement, Father David Janes was assigned, then Father Michael Kelly.

Located on Main Street, St. John’s the Baptist Catholic Church served the parish well for the celebration of our Catholic faith for 91 years. But for quite some time, several important items were missing which were deemed vital to strengthening the parish community; namely, an education center for teaching the youth their faith; a fellowship hall large enough to handle most weddings and funerals, additional church seating and a sanctuary room. Lastly, both the fellowship hall and church needed to be handicap accessible.

Our parish is indebted to Ross and Ann Funk who had the faith and vision to lay the financial foundation for the new church complex. Had it not been for their generosity, it is doubtful that this project would ever have been completed. In February of 1994, Father McPhee began plans for the new church. In 1997 those plans were finalized and the parish community moved into their new church.

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