Catholic Church of St. Dominic - Northfield, MN

Picture of Bilingual Church Entrance

Para nuestras familias aquí en Northfield, en México y otros países, que la misma fé nos consume… en todas partes del mundo rogemos al Señor. [For our families here in Northfield, in Mexico, and in other countries, with the same faith that we follow… in all other parts of the world, we pray to the Lord.] - St. Dominic's Congregational Prayer

Northfield may seem like an inconspicuous rural community.  However, by examining the vibrant and growing Latinx community in Northfield, this small town can serve as a tangible focal point of the lived history and experiences of immigrants in Minnesota. The Latinx community in Northfield has continued to grow and make spaces for themselves in Northfield, particularly in the Catholic church. The Catholic Church of St. Dominic has grown and adopted the Latinx Catholic congregation and has turned one parish into two, celebrating both Spanish and English rituals and religious holidays. Consequently, the church has molded the two separate faiths into one.

Anti-immigrant political rhetoric and frequent debates over the restriction of migration, immigrants, especially Latinos from Mexico, can easily be reduced to statistics.  Here are the basic statistics: 8.4% of Northfield residents are Hispanic, and the Latino population in Minnesota rose 74.5% from 2000 to 2010. A diverse community made up of people of British, Irish, Norwegian, and Mexican descent (among many other ethnicities), Northfield located forty-five miles south of the Twin Cities, boasts a population of 20,007 residents, the majority of whom are descendants of, or are themselves, “immigrants”.1  However, this project seeks to look beyond these numbers: examining the social ramifications of this sudden and noticeable surge in Mexican immigration to Minnesota, and its particular effects in small rural communities like Northfield.2 

How does a rural town, one that prides itself on its agrarian roots, tight-knit community, and, of course “Colleges, Cows, and Contentment,” welcome and incorporate new traditions and customs?  Additionally, how do new community members internalize their new surroundings and make them their own? While these questions may have no definitive answer, religious institutions play a major role in all of these processes.  In Northfield, St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church, on the corner of St. Olaf Avenue and Linden Street North has been a major channel through which Latinx immigrant populations have made space for themselves in their new community. 

  1. Soth, Nancy Britton. Fantasy Northfield [in English]. Northfield, MN: Samizdat, 2001, 73.

  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "State and County QuickFacts Northfield Minnesota" https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/northfieldcityminnesota