Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


Fond farewell to Father Mulligan

Father Brian Mulligan had his last service at St. Ann Catholic Church on Sunday, June 25, and what a bittersweet ending to his time in Janesville it was.
My introduction to Fr. Mulligan was a few months into the pandemic in the early summer of 2020 when I interviewed him on his arrival to St. Ann Catholic Church. We were the first ever parish where he served as a priest. It was definitely going to be a challenge for him.
In the three years that he was with us here in Janesville and serving the Waldorf and New Richland area, he’s become a local celebrity known for riding and showing off his one-wheel in pretty much any event that allowed him to. Also, a lot of the youth in the parish thought he was cool. When you are able to do that as a priest, that’s pretty special.
Seeing him on his one-wheel is something I’ll definitely miss about him. But the other thing I’ll miss is his passion during the masses, especially in his sermons. I feel like sermons get a bad rep because a majority of the time, the speaker has to walk a fine line between sounding preachy and droning on.
That wasn’t Fr. Mulligan. He used paintings, illustrations, colors, and other expressions to grasp your attention. You could tell he meant every word. I even remember him tearing up during one. That’s a man you want as your pastor or priest, someone who you know cares about you and gets deep into his love for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I guess that’s why Bishop Robert Barron stationed him at the Newman Center, to inspire other people to become priests like him.
It kind of got me emotional writing this column. With everything going on in the world, it’s very hard to stay a devout Christian without giving up or giving in to temptation. As Pastor Andrew Isker of Fourth Street Evangelical Church in Waseca alluded to in his baccalaureate mass to Waseca students in May, it’s arguably harder than ever to be a Christian.
I know it wasn’t easy for Fr. Mulligan to leave. If there’s something I’ve learned over the past few years, people want to be in Janesville. It’s a growing community with a great school (that’s not just bias speaking). People give Janesville (and arguably Waseca) a bad reputation for being cliquey because it seems like if you don’t have the right last name, you don’t matter. But as someone told me, that’s all small towns.
Besides, I don’t think that’s exactly the case anymore. The whole “having the right last name” thing was common because a lot of people didn’t seem to want the town to grow. At least, that’s what I’ve been told a lot, because Kwik Trip was allegedly denied the opportunity to build a gas station in Janesville.
But we now have a Casey’s, our latest subdivision is running out of lots, and even businesses are champing at the bit to move into town. Ask Justin Lehrke of BinPro.
I feel like people definitely want to be in Waseca, too. I haven’t been to Waseca’s council meetings lately, but council member Mark Christiansen claims every time the subject of developing land comes up, there aren’t a lot of houses for sale in Waseca, and what is available always causes a bidding war between buyers.
Hopefully Waseca can benefit from the same growth as Janesville. It’s in a pretty good location: close to Owatonna, right on a highway that takes you to the Twin Cities, about a 20-minute drive from Mankato, half an hour from Albert Lea…I think Waseca could benefit from the growth of Owatonna just asJanesville, St. Clair, and Eagle Lake have benefited from the growth of Mankato.
The question is how to make Waseca grow? Do you develop Gaiter Lake, which has been discussed for a long time? Or do you bring in a legitimate grocery store like HyVee or Fareway? Both have been brought up. People want more than a Walmart since the loss of Cash Wise and HyVee, while others argue that Waseca needs to develop more before it starts to lose its population.
I think the real question should be whether or not Waseca should be a bedroom community. People act like it’s a bad thing, but Janesville’s basically a bedroom community at this point with Mankato so close. Besides, Waseca lost a lot of industry when E. F. Johnson and Corchran closed doors. Now Itron is shutting down its Waseca location.
All I know is, people want to live here. But why? Better yet, why wouldn’t they want to live here? I think the latter question is the key to growing Waseca and making it a better place.


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