St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Dakota County

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is located in Dakota County on Vermillion's Main Street. Kate Josephson / Contributor

One of the stupidest things I ever said was, “I didn’t know there’s such a thing as a Baptist Catholic church.”

Somehow, as we were driving past the big church in the small town of Vermilion, I hadn’t seen the preceding words of “St. John the” on the sign. Oh. I said that at a round table in the corner of the publisher’s office over sandwiches. Ah well. After that meeting I actually came across an old article in a Hastings paper about a grocery store run by the grandfather of the person to whom I was speaking. I shared it with them. — That felt somewhat graceful.

The message online by Father Mike Tix was about the Blessed Virgin Mary being assumed body and soul into heaven. It was also about the new statue placed in front of the Vermillion bank building. 

There was a scripture phrase: “… the moon beneath her feet.” — “The queen stands at your right hand arrayed in gold.” During the mass posted on St. John the Baptist Catholic Church’s Facebook page, recorded at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in New Trier, a gold and persimmon colored cross moved across the white wall as the sun shone through the high window above the door (below the star I’ve enjoyed seeing illuminated during Advent).

At the feet of the new statue were some actual puddles of water and fresh green grass clippings on the sculpted black dirt being turned by hand with a single blade plow. The hardworking farmer stood head and shoulders above me, wearing suspenders but not overalls like my dad had.

Father said there can be a “soul echo” of Mary’s in “quiet daily living.” Later in the worship service we heard the words, “the work of human hands.” Near the end, Father Mike’s lone voice resonantly sang “oh Maria.” At home, before a Sunday drive in the country to Vermilion, through New Trier and just a few miles more to St. Mathias in Hampton as the third of this trilogy, I quietly hummed along as a balm for the soul.

Just the day before, my brothers and our spouses toured Niagara Cave close to Harmony, Minn. Our guide recommended experiencing the echo chamber with a solid thunk to your sternum — issuing forth an echo generated from right above your heart.

Kate Josephson worked as a church secretary in Red Wing. She seeks out religious experiences wherever she goes.

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