On January 1, 2011 a historic event took place when two parishes in the West 7th neighborhood of St. Paul, St. Francis de Sales and St. James, merged to become one parish, St. Francis de Sales of St. Paul.
St. Francis de Sales was founded for German settlers living west of downtown St. Paul in 1883, becoming the 11th Catholic parish in St. Paul. St. James was established in 1887 for settlers living west of downtown St. Paul, particularly the Irish immigrants living along Fort Road all the way to Fort Snelling. It became the 14th Catholic parish in St. Paul with initial boundaries of Western Avenue on the east, Grand Avenue on the north, and the Mississippi River on the west and south.
To understand the merger more fully, St. Francis de Sales was a national parish, while St. James was a territorial parish with boundaries as noted above. A national parish has no territorial boundaries and is situated within the boundaries of the territorial parish. By canonical law (the rules that govern how the Church operates), the territorial parish must be the receiving parish. Therefore, the decision regarding which parish is receiving and which is merged was a matter of following the canonical laws governing mergers.
In order to preserve the history and tradition of the national parish of St. Francis de Sales, Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, transferred the German national character of St. Francis to St. James and also changed the name of the parish to The Church of St. Francis de Sales of St. Paul.
Parishioners of both parishes have been preparing for this merger for several years. We look forward to continuing to serve the West 7th community as one parish.