Saint Vincent de Paul began in 1888 to serve Frogtown’s Irish Catholics. Its congregation has many Hmong members today.
In 1888 the local conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society opened a small mission chapel near the corner of Blair Avenue and Virginia Street. It served about 125 families, most of them Irish. Priests from Saint Luke’s served the congregation, although a priest from Saint Joseph church at Carroll Avenue and Virginia Street offered the first Mass.
Father Laurence Cosgrove was the first resident pastor, and first in a long line of Irish priests. Cosgrove is credited with fostering Saint Vincent’s growth and development. The church was dedicated in May 1888.
Cosgrove was somewhat of a legend. In addition to being pastor of Saint Vincent's, he served as chaplain of Calvary Cemetery, chaplain of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, chaplain of the State Order of Foresters, and first pastor of Saint Andrew's Parish, which was founded in 1889 as a mission of Saint Vincent's.
Saint Vincent grew to more than 800 families by the mid-20th century. The church was extensively renovated in the 1930s, with labor from men and women of the parish.
The church entrance and vestibule were renovated in the early 1950s.
The tradition of Irish priests at Saint Vincent ended in 1979, when Father Bernard C. Klein took charge. In recent years St. Vincent’s congregation became more diverse, with many members of Hmong descent. In 2012 the parish became part of the Cathedral of Saint Paul.
Saint Vincent’s teams, especially in baseball and basketball, had an illustrious history and produced many star baseball players including Saint Paul Saints and Chicago White Sox star Larry Rosenthal. School alumnus Jim McCarter made Ripley’s Believe it or Not in 1931 when he struck out all 27 batters for Saint Vincent’s in a game against Saint Andrew’s. Internationally known boxers Mike and Tommy Gibbons were also from Saint Vincent.
One interesting note is that all three of the Frogtown Catholic churches were dedicated by the legendary Archbishop John Ireland.