Did You Know? A History of St. William’s Living Center – Part 3

In the middle part of the 20th century, St. Raphael’s Hospital in Parkers Prairie became a local healthcare hub, serving the residents of Otter Tail County. Soon, a thriving Catholic parish was added to the community and Parkers Prairie residents no longer had to make the trek to Urbank for Sunday Mass. 

Fr. Joseph Vogrin came from St. Cloud to lead the new parish and oversee operations at the Franciscan hospital next door. 

In this installment of our series, we’ll take a closer look at how St. Raphael’s Hospital evolved to become a rest home and care center. 

Fr. Vogrin Comes to Parkers Prairie

Fr. Joseph Vogrin was ordained in Austria in 1944 during the height of World War II. It was a dangerous time for religious scholars and priests in Europe. Because they were educated, they represented a threat to the totalitarian regimes that ruled during the war. 

Seeking political sanctuary, Fr. Vogrin came to the US and was moved to the St. Cloud Diocese in 1949. Later, he ventured west, looking to become a pastor at St. Mary’s in Alexandria. The job didn’t work out for him and he was instead assigned to St. William’s in Parkers Prairie. 

He served his first Mass on August 19, 1951, just a few short weeks after construction of the brick church building began. The temporary position he took became a permanent stay after he became deeply involved in the construction project.

The Fate of the Hospital

By 1959, St. Raphael’s hospital was in dire need of a renovation. It received 18 deficiency citations from a state inspection that year. 

With a relicensing deadline looming, the Franciscans were running low on options. They lacked the funds to bring the hospital up to code. A city commission, made up of prominent businessmen in the community, came together to decide what to do with the ailing hospital.

They were unable to reach an agreement about the fate of the St. Raphael’s and the Franciscans allowed the hospital license to lapse. Fr. Vogrin saw an opportunity and purchased the building for $1,000 through St. William’s Parish. A new community hospital was later built in a new location in Parkers Prairie.

A Rest Home In Its Place

Community leaders in Parkers Prairie hoped to have a nursing home wing added on to the new hospital, but funding cuts made this impossible. Fr. Vogrin had a vision that the church’s building, old St. Raphael’s Hospital, could serve a new purpose. 

But the building needed plenty of work before it would be fit as a healthcare facility again. In 1960, Fr. Vogrin approached the Diocese about renovating the aging structure, which had been left as a shell by the Franciscans, into a 20-bed board and care facility. He received the necessary permission and funding to go forward with the construction. 

St. William’s Rest Home began operations in 1960 and incorporated three years later to become a separate entity from St. William’s Parish. Along with the incorporation came a new name – St. William’s Nursing Home.

The Nursing Home Becomes a Living Center

Join us next week! We’ll discuss how the original 20-bed rest home grew into a 5-star nursing facility and living center that’s consistently rated among the best in the country. You don’t want to miss it!

Visit the News section of our website to hear the latest news coming out of St. William’s Living Center and get some great advice for adjusting to nursing home life. 

Children and Mental Health

Oftentimes, we excuse our children from having mental health problems because we want to protect them from the stigma of being labelled.  Instead, we prefer to accept that they will simply “grow out of it”.  Unfortunately, 1 in 5 children have a mental health issue, and 2/3 of them don’t receive mental health treatment.  Those without treatment may indeed improve on their own, especially with good guidance and learning how to cope with the problems they are having.  However, oftentimes, these children develop further mental health problems as they grow into adulthood because their problems were never acknowledged and they didn’t receive ways to deal with their struggles.   

Oftentimes, children reveal their symptoms through their behaviors and is oftentimes seen in how they are functioning within the home, at school and/or in their social interactions.    Common behaviors include a decline in school performance or poor grades, repeated refusal to go to school or take part in normal activities, persistent disobedience, frequent temper outbursts and increased irritability, sleeping and eating problems, withdrawal from others, frequent tearfulness, increased worry or anxiety, being quite fidgety or hyperactive, and the list goes on.   Without treatment success, potential consequences include school failure, involvement in the criminal justice system or legal problems, social services involvement and possible placement, self-injurious behaviors, sexual promiscuity, or suicide.

There are various screenings that are helpful to identify if a child is reaching their full potential or if they are heading towards emotional, attentional or behavioral problems.  Kids have lots of stress in their lives.  They need adult help.  Let’s do what we do best – take care of our hurting children.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Losing the Potential of a Good Relationship Due to Our Own Lack of Awareness

Aren’t we supposed to put the needs of others first?  Isn’t there the belief that If we give to others, they will in turn reciprocate; especially in relationships?  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way.  In fact, it has become increasingly noticeable in our close relationships that we teach people how to treat us.  Specifically, if a partner acts one way, the other tends to react to the contrary as a means to find a balance.   For example, if you are passive or your spouse is more controlling, your partner unintentionally plays out the opposite role.  Or, if you are exceedingly generous, you may be teaching your partner to be more self-centered, without either one of you being aware that your generosity has gradually grown into resentment and your partner has lost focus on a mutually nurturing relationship.    We seek a balance, and instead of being on the same team, we try to find an equilibrium by being contrary to one another.

Likewise, we oftentimes choose partners that corroborates with the “dance” we oftentimes mimic and are accustomed to while growing up and witnessing our parents’ relationship.    Despite efforts to “be different” from how our parents got along, we oftentimes find ourselves repeating what we tried hard to avoid.  

Despite good intentions, these patterns seem to sway us in directions we do not want to go.  Staying balanced without the extremes, and leading our own “dance” without generational influences can happen by being more aware of these patterns and communicating with each other about them.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Did You Know? A History of St. William’s Living Center – Part 2

In Part 1 of our series, we left off at the corner of McCornell Avenue and West Soo Street, where Dr. Herbert Leibold successfully built his vision of a hospital to serve the rural residents of Parkers Prairie. 

Financial difficulties plagued the hospital after Dr. Leibold retired and the city agreed to sell the facility to the Franciscans, who would keep the hospital running. The Catholic organization moved in and took over operations, but the growing Catholic community still had to make a long commute to receive Sunday Mass in Urbank. 

In this installment, we’ll talk about the arrival of the Catholic church in Parkers Prairie, and we’ll introduce you to a man who would become an integral part of St. William’s history. 

Dr. Leibold Makes a Plan

Now that the Franciscans were running St. Raphael’s hospital, they needed a priest to oversee operations. Dr. Leibold, who was partially retired but still active as a surgeon in the hospital, thought this was an excellent opportunity to commission the Bishop to form a parish in Parkers Prairie. After all, there would be little sense in having a priest on staff at the hospital without having a parish where he could be of greatest service to the community. 

A fundraising campaign was soon underway to bring a new Catholic parish to Parkers Prairie. Dr. Leibold led the charge with a $1,000 pledge of his own. It wasn’t long before the community had reached the $6,000 fundraising goal.

On November 21, 1950, Bishop Joseph Busch established The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady. This was later changed to St. William’s in honor of a particularly large donor named William Wissel. 

Sacred Ground

Now that Dr. Leibold had the parish officially recognized by the Bishop, he needed a place to build the church. He purchased the city lot next to his home, directly across the street from St. Raphael’s Hospital. 

The church accepted the donated lot from Dr. Leibold with the agreement that, after he and his wife passed away, the church would be given first priority to buy his home. This gave the church room to expand and a house to use as a rectory. 

Brick and Mortar

With the lot secured, the new parish was now on the lookout for a building. They originally wanted to purchase an old, wooden Protestant church and move it onto the lot. But Dr. Leibold had other ideas in mind. 

He petitioned the church to raise funds to construct a brick building, which they were able to do successfully. Construction began on July 4, 1951 with the laying of the cornerstone. On June 25, 1952, Bishop Bartholome blessed the altar and dedicated the new church. 

Fr. Joseph Vogrin

Born in Slovenia, Fr. Joseph Vogrin spoke only passable English. He came to the area to be an associate pastor at St. Mary’s in Alexandria. Because of his broken English, he was passed over for the job and took a temporary position at St. William’s in Parkers Prairie instead. 

That temporary position would turn into 37 years of dedicated service to the community, and would lead to the formation of St. William’s Living Center as we know it today. Join us for our next installment, where we reveal how St. Raphael’s Hospital became a nursing home facility. 

Did you know that St. William’s Living Center offers physical, occupational, and speech therapy? Visit our website to learn about the many services we offer to the Parkers Prairie community!

Information for this post was taken from the book Beyond Measure, written by Fr. Jeff Ethen, copyright 2000 Central Minnesota Catholic Publishers

Did You Know? A History of St. William’s Living Center – Part 1

On the corner of McCornell Avenue and West Soo Street in the sleepy country town of Parkers Prairie, Minnesota, sits the beautiful, sprawling campus of St. William’s Living Center. Across the street from the nursing home and assisted living facility is the church of the same name. If you drive by the campus on a Sunday morning, you’ll hear the cheerful jangle of the church bells calling the area Catholic community home for Mass.  

Many local residents consider the 5-star rated nursing home as an extension of the church, merging excellent healthcare with the strong, Christian beliefs that molded the surrounding community. But it might surprise you to learn that there was a healthcare center on the corner of McCornell and West Soo long before there was ever a Catholic church in Parkers Prairie. 

Join us for Part 1 of our series about the history of St. William’s Living Center. We begin this series at the turn of the 20th century, not with a Priest, but with a doctor.

Dr. Herbert Leibold

In the early 1900s, rural Minnesota communities received their medical care from the town doctor. These doctors would open up their own small clinics and make house calls when needed. When they moved on, they took their practices with them and made room for the next doctor to come to town.

In October of 1909, Dr. Herbert Leibold and his wife Amelia came to Parkers Prairie and he opened up a clinic in the Gagnagle building. During those early years, he made house calls by horseback. And when the snow piles grew too high for horses, he traveled by snowshoe to take care of his beloved patients. 

In 1915, Dr. Leibold built a small, square, two-story building on the corner of McCornell and West Soo. This first hospital held a clinic on the ground level and an operating room on the second floor where Dr. Leibold, who was a skilled surgeon, operated on patients. There was no elevator, so patients had to walk to the second floor on their own or be carried up using a gurney. 

Eventually, Dr. Leibold expanded the Leibold Hospital into a larger, more comfortable space and he ran the hospital until he retired in 1945. Another doctor took over the operations in 1945, but after only three years, he was forced to shut down the facility because of financial troubles. This was a huge blow to the residents of Parkers Prairie. They had come to see the hospital is an important landmark and a symbol of their prosperous small town. 

The City Votes

The city stepped in and proposed a bond referendum to save the iconic building and keep the hospital running. The bond received 166 votes in favor and 125 votes against. 

Although this was a majority vote, the bond did not pass because a state law dictated that there must be at least 62.5% in favor to approve. Supporters of the hospital were crushed at the defeat. 

The Church Steps In

On the evening of March 7, 1949, the city held its regular council meeting to discuss the failed bond vote. Mother Mary Ohmann, Reverend Mother of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, attended that meeting. The Franciscans were responsible for running several healthcare facilities in the area and she put forward a proposal to allow the nuns to run the hospital and keep it staffed. 

The prospect of having the church operate the hospital was a new one to the members of the city council. Although the Catholic population was growing at the time, the closest Catholic church was Sacred Heart in Urbank. It took some residents almost a full day of travel to get back and forth between Urbank and Parkers Prairie for Mass. 

But with few other options, the city agreed to the proposal, and on July 16, 1949, the contract was signed allowing the Franciscans to assemble a nursing staff and reopen Leipold Hospital with a new name – St. Raphael’s Hospital. 

Healthcare and Catholicism Grow In Parkers Prairie

In the next part of this series, we’ll take a look at how St. Raphael’s became St. William’s and how the church grew up around this vital healthcare hub. 

St. William’s Living Center is the home with a heart in the heart of central Minnesota. Call us today to find out about the healthcare services we offer to the residents of Parkers Prairie!

Information for this post was taken from the book Beyond Measure, written by Fr. Jeff Ethen, copyright 2000 Central Minnesota Catholic Publishers


Why is it that mental health symptoms are generally worse for many people during the winter months?  Good question.  Much of it has to do with the lack of sunshine.  So, you may ask, what does sunlight exposure have to do with mental health?  Long story short, one of the main chemicals released in our bodies to improve our mood is Serotonin, and some of the effects of Serotonin are triggered by how much sunlight our eyes actually receive.  As the days are shorter and it is colder outside, most of us don’t get outdoors as much as we would otherwise do.  Thus, we receive less sunlight which results in less Serotonin which results in increased depression or anxiety, as well as other manifestations.  

An adjunct problem during winter time comprises of our reduced motivation to be physically healthy.  Truly, who wants to go outdoors to exercise?  It’s cold outside, and excusing ourselves with a good book, a warm drink and curling up with a warm blanket sound so much more delightful.  Unfortunately, not exercising doesn’t satisfy our overall well-being, and more we are vulnerable to emotional difficulties.  When we don’t continue our exercise regimen, we limit the release of endorphins which actually is used to relieve tension or stress and boost our physical and mental energy.  

During winter months, we also tend to eat more with added junk food and carbohydrates.  As we become more absorbed with food and feel the added weight, our self-esteem is usually affected.  Having a negative self-image also impacts how you look at yourself; causes intimacy difficulties and you are more prone to depression and anxiety.  Also, our sleep cycles change during the winter months., impacting our REM sleep which helps us regulate our mood and process emotional experiences.  Without REM sleep, we are more susceptible to increased emotional reactivity and emotional problems.  

In view of all this, it almost feels like things are stacked against us when we face winter.  Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the delight of winter-time and all those not affected by mood changes; most of us are here because we have chosen to be here.  However, those that are struggling with increased emotional difficulties during the wintertime, here are some things you can do to make it through: 

  • Eat right
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get more sun; that means getting outside at least half hour each day, like it or not.  Also, people diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder benefit from a light box which simulates actual light.
  • Get sufficient sleep; be it going to bed early to get 8 hours in, developing a bedtime routine, or using supports like candles, meditation, reading, essential oils, massage, etc.
  • Get into projects or activities that you might like, even if you don’t feel like it
  • Socialize more with others
  • Work on your New Year’s resolutions or develop goals and plans to complete them

When the light isn’t shining, do what you can to still have a good winter.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

A Mixed Bag of Emotions during Christmas Time

The Christmas season is full of joy, with all of its frivolities, like gift exchanges, church bells, singing choirs, family gatherings, hoof noises on the roof, rich foods, and the real reason for the season of whom many still celebrate.  Depression, or anxiety, or irritability, or frustration just don’t fit with the holiday season… or do they?  Actually, reality hits most of us in the face as we realize that holiday cheer isn’t exactly a given; especially with high expectations, money woes, and even with the pressure to be cheerful despite not feeling that way.  So, what do we do to improve our holiday cheer with a mixed bag of emotions?

Here are some tips:

-Make plans ahead of time; figure out what needs to get done and make it a priority.  Stay on track until it’s completed before you start the next “to-do” task on your list.

-Try to get along with everyone; avoid conflicts during this time of year and instead make a time later on to disagree and work through stuff when the house isn’t full of company and stress is at its foremost.

-Focus on the good; enjoy your blessings.  Find gratitude in what you do, what you experience, the interactions you have…

-Try to relax and let the “need to be perfect” size way down to “enjoying the moment”.  No one really cares if your house is perfect or if you have one more item made for Christmas.

-Take care of your own health; don’t cut back on sleep, eat nutritiously, don’t forget exercising, and get outside a bit to get refreshed.  Your body drags along with you during this holiday season; why not take care of it.

-Focus on what matters; we all have our own significances.

-Smile anyways; it makes others feel good and it also can have a positive effect on you as well – “Fake it ‘til you make it”.

-Allow others to give to you; let someone in, especially if you are sad or grieving, or if you are stressed or frustrated, or if you feel alone and vulnerable.  We all need each other, especially during a holiday season.  Allowing someone in helps the giver and the receiver.  It is important to feel connected.  We need each other.  It is part of the human condition. 

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health

4 Reasons Why Assisted Living is Better Than Living Alone

Home is where the heart is.

While this statement is absolutely true, it can be tough to take the leap and leave your home behind for good. This is especially true as we age. We become set in our routines, making change difficult and overwhelming.

But sometimes change is exactly what we need to improve our lives. A little assistance can go a long way toward a more healthy and social lifestyle.

In this article, we’ll give you four good reasons why assisted living is better than living alone.

1. Maintenance? What Maintenance?

Do you love shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, repairing leaky faucets, and fixing a broken A/C in the heat of summer? Not so much!

Home maintenance can become a big burden as we age. It becomes harder to keep up with even the most minor of tasks like cooking and cleaning.

When you join an assisted living community, these chores are taken care of for you. The best part is, you can choose the level of assistance you need. There are a variety of optional amenities to add to your daily routine. They include nursing care, in-house doctor visits, bathing assistance, and personal laundry.

2. Leave Loneliness at the Door

Socialization is a wonderful way to keep your mind sharp as you age. If you spend much of your day alone, an assisted living community is just what you need to improve your social life. There are regular social functions planned on the community activity calendar.

Join in when you want to or opt to stay in your apartment for some alone time if you want to. You have the option.

3. Move It or Lose It

Regular activity is essential for your physical and mental health. Assisted living communities offer lots of extra amenities like whirlpool baths, fitness centers, and even in-house occupational therapy to help you recover from illness or surgery.

There are lots of activities planned to get your out and about. And there are plenty of indoor and outdoor common areas so you can easily take a walk to get your blood pumping.

4. Great Food? Yes, Please!

Some of us love to cook… some of us don’t love it so much. That’s okay! In an assisted living facility, you have the choice to cook for yourself or to enjoy regular breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided by the kitchen.

The meals are delicious. And the best part? You don’t have to do the dishes when you’re finished eating!

Are You Ready?

At St. William’s Living Center, we have 15 beautiful apartments in our assisted living called McCornell Court. Our goal is to provide you with the peace of mind you need and the comfort you deserve.

Call us today to find out how we can assist you!

What Every Child Wants Their Parents to Know

“Dear Parent, as you understand further about what I’m going to tell, you will know more about how to help me grow up.  Just to blurt it all out: ‘YOU’ are the most important person in my life! You may not believe it, but our relationship either shapes me or breaks me.  No matter what is going on with you, I NEED YOU to be there for me!!  MY LIFE IS AT STAKE!  I NEED you unconditionally!  I need you when I cry.  I need you when I don’t want you.  I need you when I can’t sleep.  I need you when I say, “I hate you!”.  I need you to help me when I make mistakes.  I need you to say you’re sorry.  If I scream or throw food on the floor, let me know you love me.  Help me learn to calm down so I can let you know why I’m angry.  With love and discipline, guide me as I try to figure out how to deal with my problems, don’t yell at me and tell me I’m a brat.  I need you to love me through and through – no matter what, despite my mistakes. 

Unconditional love is actually the main ingredient that helps my brain grow normally.  You see, my brain shapes and grows as it is fed through my thoughts and feelings about what happens to and you and me; and the more I feel loved, the more I feel secure and safe and more able to put the pieces together.  However, the more I feel dismissed or a problem-child, the more my brain tells me that maybe I’m not worth much. Even if you don’t mean it but I am placed in the shadows when you are struggling with adult problems, I can take it personally.  Or, if you tend to be sad a lot or angry and we don’t have that love connection, I can blame myself for your heartache. Or, if you aren’t secure, will I learn that life is uncertain and project it through a monster under my bed who gives me nightmares, or even worse some day?  My brain hasn’t fully developed so am wide open to interpretation. 

It is time for you to help me figure out how to deal with all the stuff I don’t even know about. You know, I’ve never lived before so there is everything I don’t know.  I am in your hands!  You are the one to help me grow up with confidence and loved.  Keep me in your mind.  Let me know that you ‘get me’. Stay with me and share my mind with yours.  As you enter my world, you will understand me.  As you enter my world, I will better understand you.  Let me feel loved and cherished.  As we become like one mind, we may meld into our own beautiful dance together.   I know that this, in itself, is the most important gift of all.   Then, I will know you are with me and I can trust you to care for me, no matter what; even if your crabby or sad, even if you had a bad childhood, even if we have some bad genes…I know we are connected and you will always be there to be alongside me, especially to guide me as I try to figure out who I am and what I’m all about. 

Thank you for being with me, through thick or thin.  Thank you for thinking that I’m the best thing that ever happened to you.  Thank you for dealing with your issues so that you can be the best parent in the world for me.  We set our focus on tomorrow.  Thank you.    Luv, Your young little child.”

Claudia A. Liljegren, LICSW, Clinical Psychotherapist

They Served for Us…

They fought for rights. They fought for values. They fought for freedom. They fought to defend Old Glory. They fought because someone else fought before they did. They fought for what was right.

They fought on foreign soil where they were hated. They fought against those who had no regard for human life. They fought to save women and children. They fought to free the oppressed.

They provided security to those who lived in constant fear. They gave medical care to the wounded. They brought food to the starving and water to the desperate. They gave hope to those who had lost everything.

They are men. They are women. They are young and full of life. They are aging gracefully. They come from all backgrounds. And they all have one thing in common…

They served for us.

Veterans are our nation’s greatest treasure. They protect our lives. They protect our liberties. They protect our happiness. They hold our history in their hands. 

On behalf of the St. William’s Living Center community, we thank you, veterans. 

You served us. Now we serve you.