Our Priests, Deacon & Religious Sisters

Our Priests and Deacons

Father Ben Little, Pastor

Fr. Ben Little was named pastor of St. John's in June 2020 after serving  as temporary parochial administrator. 
Fr. Ben grew up in Little Canada, and has been blessed with lifelong Catholic education: at St. John the Evangelist in Little Canada, Cretin-Derham Hall, the University of Dallas, and St. Paul Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2012 and has served at St. Peter's in Forest Lake, St. Olaf in Minneapolis, Pope St. John Paul II School in Minneapolis, and currently as pastor of the Church of St. Michael in Farmington. He is a member of the priestly fraternal association the Companions of Christ. He once considered a career in politics, but the call to the priesthood he began to hear in fourth grade eventually brought him into the vocation he loves and is blessed to live.
Father enjoys spending time with family and friends, quiet days on the water in his canoe or the ice shack, reading, exercising, and some amateur woodworking. He is a long-suffering Minnesota sports fan and an avowed coffee enthusiast. Above all, he has a great love for our Triune God, our Blessed Mother Mary, and the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. 

Father Michael Barsness, Parochial Vicar

Father Michael joined the St. John the Baptist parish community in July 2019. He grew up in Northfield, MN and went to college in Nebraska. Father Barsness had a conversion experience in college where he found the Lord seeking him and followed the call into conversion, and later into vocation. Father enjoys biking, disc golf, board games, Twins games, music, craft brews, and other "normal" things as the list goes on.  May we grow together in our journey to heaven here at St. John's.


Deacon Bob Durham

Deacon Bob and his wife, Mary Beth, have been parishioners at St. John's since 1996. Bob was ordained to the permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in September of 2004. The “call” to the Diaconate occurred over a period of time, without any earth shattering or “Paul on the way to Damascus” events. Rather, it was more the Lord calling in “a tiny whispering sound” like we read in 1 Kings 19:12. Deacon Bob’s favorite thing about St. John’s is the community! He says, "This wonderful group of parishioners have allowed me into their lives, into their worship, the baptisms of their children, weddings, and yes, even the deaths of their loved ones. The St. John’s community remains a powerful witness to the love of God."


Deacon Jerry Little was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2002. He was assigned to St. John’s in Savage from 2002-2014 and then to St. Hubert’s in Chanhassen from 2014 until he was reassigned to St. John’s in the fall of 2020. His ministries have included our sister parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Houston, MS, hospital and senior residences, and Families Moving Forward.
Deacon Jerry graduated with a BA and MBA from the University of Notre Dame and worked in IT sales for over 40 years and retired in May 2020. He was married for 42 years to his late wife Andi (a beloved member of the St. John’s staff) and has three sons, three granddaughters and two grandsons. He has been a long time member of the St. John’s community and enjoys golf, walking, traveling out east, Liverpool soccer and of course, Notre Dame football!

Deacon Joel Neisen

Deacon Joel and his wife, LuAnn, were married in 1983, and have been members of St. John's since 1984. They have 5 children, all grown, who attended St. John the Baptist Catholic grade school and graduated from Burnsville High School. They have two grandchildren who live in Richmond, VA.  Deacon Joel is a computer programmer while LuAnn my works in the kitchen at MW Savage Elementary School.

Deacon Joel loves learning and has spent many years in bible study, and teaching Catechism.  Having been an active Catholic all his life, he had a spiritual growth event prompted by a chance encounter with a street corner preacher. He first heard the call to the diaconate 24 years ago, but because of his daughter's illness at different points in her life, he had to defer that until 2014 when he resumed the inquiry process.  Deacon Joel was ordained in December of 2019.

Deacon Joel enjoys apologetics, useless trivia, bicycling, sailing, and the related hobby of knots (one of his favorite titles for Our Lady is "Mary, Untier of Knots").

Religious Sisters

We have been extremely fortunate to establish a relationship with the Religious Sisters from the Pro Ecclesia Sancta Order located in Bloomington, MN. The sisters come to work collectively at our parish and school to serve a variety of ways. They are most often seen in pairs and can be found working with adults, at our parish and school events, with all ages of youth, and helping with Religious Education.
You can see more about the mission of the Sisters of Pro Ecclesia Sancta by checking out this great VIDEO.