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Coming home again

Pastor John Anderson is replacing retiring pastor Jim Brinkman at Immaculate Conception Church in New Richmond. (Photo by Jordan Willi)

Much like his predecessor, Pastor John Anderson is a New Richmond area native and even attended St. Mary School and New Richmond High School just like Father Jim Brinkman. Anderson took over for the retiring Brinkman on July 1.

“I’m just really excited to be back here and to get to preach at my hometown church,” Anderson said. “I hope that I can be a part of some good, positive movement here. Not that it hasn’t been positive, but I’m hoping to continue on and build upon what has already been established for so many years.”

Anderson, 54, is a Star Prairie native and graduated from NRHS in 1979. Another similarity between himself and Brinkman is that Anderson has also been away from his hometown for 25 years or more. And coming home wasn’t as easy a decision as others might have thought it would be for Anderson.

“I knew Father Jim was retiring and it was mentioned to me that there was going to be an opening in New Richmond,” Anderson said. “But then nothing happened until this last winter when they asked if I’d be interested in the position. I told them I would have to think about it since I have a ton of relatives in town, so I worried if that would be a positive or a challenge.”
Eventually, Anderson decided that he was up for the challenge of being pastor for his hometown parish and accepted the job.

“I prayed about it and thought about it and here I am,” Anderson said.

Although Anderson is now happy with his job, he hadn’t always planned on becoming a pastor. He also took a long time come to find his calling, much like Brinkman.

“It took me a lot longer to become a pastor, much like it did for Father Jim,” Anderson said. “I worked a lot of jobs in the New Richmond area before becoming a pastor. Actually, my last job was with the New Richmond News for the printing operation. I also worked at McCabe’s Shamrock for many, many years. I drove school bus in New Richmond, worked in Somerset at the bars and campgrounds and also worked at Friday Canning. I’ve basically been in town most of my life.”

When he finally decided to go back to school to become a pastor, Anderson knew that the signs had always been pointing toward his eventually joining the church.

“Toward the end of my working career, before going to school to become a pastor, I was taking more time off work to work at church functions and stuff,” Anderson said. “So I think it kind of became a natural progression for me to become a pastor. I didn’t know if I wanted to go to school again, because I wasn’t a fan of school, but Father Charles Murphy, who was there at the time, told me to give it a try because I wouldn’t know for sure unless I did.”

Anderson was ordained in New Richmond before becoming an associate pastor in Rice Lake for three years as well as at the Cathedral in Superior for one year. Following his time there, Anderson became pastor for the Ladysmith Parish and then moved on to be pastor in Tomahawk, Wis. for the last 10 years.

“I think part of why I became a pastor was the way I was raised,” Anderson said. “Church and faith were mandatory to us as kids, but I kind of stuck with it. I guess I have just always been involved with the church and I think that encouragement of other people made me think about it.”

Given how many people helped Anderson on his journey to becoming a pastor, he feels like coming home to preach at his hometown church is one of the little ways he can give back to the community that always supported him.

“Coming back here to be the pastor, in a strange way, is a way for me to give back to all the people who supported me through seminary,” Anderson said. “Plus, I really feel strongly about my alma mater, St. Mary School, so if I can help in anywhere there as well that would be great.”

With the Stillwater bridge coming closer and closer to completion, Anderson believes that the church has a lot of potential for growth in the near future.

“I think there is a great potential to continue with growth and outreach,” Anderson said. “But I can’t do that alone, which is why it is good to have such a good staff. The Stillwater bridge has been talked about since I was in kindergarten, so I think that could have an impact on the whole area, the church and school included.”

One of the many things Anderson is looking forward to about his new position is getting to interact with the children of St. Mary School.

“I look forward to meeting the children of the kids I went to school with when I was at St. Mary’s,” Anderson said. “I also look forward to reconnecting with a lot of classmates from high school. I enjoyed my high school years here. I will enjoy to go and cheer for the Tigers again. It has been a long time.”

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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