History of our Diocese

The well-organized system of rural parishes, particularly in Cole, Osage, Adair, Ralls, and Monroe counties were the result of Jesuit missionary activity and primarily German, Italian and Irish immigration. The oldest active parish in the diocese is St. Stephen in Indian Creek, founded in 1833.

All the historical information about our parishes can be attributed to Sr. Loretta Pastva, SND. For more historical facts about our diocese and parishes, read Sr. Pastva's amazing 2006 book, "Proclaiming the Good News in the Heart of Missouri". 


St. Stephen, Indian Creek

Several church buildings were erected and destroyed by fire and cyclone, but the parish rebuilt and continued. The current church was dedicated on October 3, 1917. More than 5,800 baptisms and 1,000 marriages are noted in the parish records and the parish continues to thrive. 

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St. Joseph, Westphalia

St. Joseph parish, the oldest German Catholic parish west of the Mississippi River, celebrated its first Mass on August 6, 1835. The present church was built in 1848, dedicated on October 24, 1894, with a bell tower added in 1883. A major renovation in 1905 elevated the church and added stained-glass windows. As German immigrants placed a high value on education, a school was established in 1837 and has continued to the present day. It is the oldest school in the diocese.  

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Sacred Heart, Rich Fountain

Fr. Helias celebrated the first known Mass for four early Catholic families on May 16, 1838. Within two years the families of Struemph's Settlement had built a small log church on the four acres of land donated by Struemph where the first Mass was celebrated on December 3, 1840. It is thought that the Belgian Fr. Helias renamed the community Riche Fountaine, from the active spring located at the bottom of the church hill. In the early 1850's the parish covered a large part of Osage County, all of Maries County, and also included Durban's Settlement, the present town of Bland. By 1880 the first Mass was celebrated in a new, spacious and artistic church built chiefly by parishioners. It was dedicated on October 16, 1880. 

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St. Francis Xavier, Taos

In the summer of 1838 Fr. Ferdinand Helias, S.J. came to the area now known as Taos to care for the spiritual needs of German immigrants. There were only 20 families gathered when he celebrated Mass for the first time on May 28, 1838. Soon 10 acres were purchased from the Haar family to be used for a church and school. In 1840 the first church, a simple log structure was built and dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, a renowned Jesuit missionary to the Far East. The community was known as Haarville until the soldiers returned from the war with Mexico and began to call the town Taos. 

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St. Patrick, St. Patrick 

St. Patrick began as a simple log church in the southern portion of Clark County in 1834 and was served by Jesuits until 1846, when a resident pastor was named. A brick church was subsequently built in 1860, but was later replaced by a frame church in 1903. 

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St. Joseph, Edina

St. Joseph parish traces its roots back to the pioneer settlement days of Edina. As early as 1837 Roman Catholic frontiersmen commenced to settle in Knox County. The first Mass offered in the county was in June 1843 in a log house. As more Catholics arrived, a log church was completed in 1844. Westward expansion necessitated an even larger church. In 1873, ground was broken for the present church with a 195-foot spire. In 1885, a pipe organ from the US Centennial, the largest west of the Mississippi, at that time was installed. 

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Holy Family, Hannibal

Hannibal's history of faith spans three centuries from the first celebration of Mass by Fr. Louis Hennepin in 1680 at Bay de Charles. Three Catholic parishes; Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph (New Landon), Holy Cross (Ilasco), Blessed Sacrament and St. Mary's Churches, each with its's own diversity, now stand as Holy Family Church; embracing our strength as a Catholic, "holy family" of faith. 

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St. George, Hermann

In 1995 St. George Parish celebrated 150 years of being, through the grace of God, a dynamic faith community on the south bank of the Missouri River. To be sure, fine priests served the church 30 years before the Franciscans came in 1875 to guide the congregation into the new century, as well as the one following.

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Immaculate Conception, Loose Creek

Immaculate Conception parish of Loose Creek was founded by Fr. Ferdinand Helias S.J. in 1835. The present church building was completed in 1877. The congregation at the time was made up of German immigrants who came from the Rhineland area of Germany to settle in Loose Creek. A monument to them on the church lawn that was dedicated in 1992 shows the names and towns from which they originated. It shares this memorial with a sister city in Lank, Germany. 

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St. John the Evangelist, Bahner

St. John parish began in 1838 when a group of German Catholic families settled in the southeast corner of Pettis County. Religious needs and instruction were met in gatherings in homes of members of the community, with occasional visits by priests from Jefferson City and Westphalia.

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St.  Peter, Jefferson City

The first St. Peter Church was erected in 1846 from the forest wilderness that comprised Jefferson City. It stood on the site of what is now St. Peter School. The present church was built in 1881. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Until 1968 St. Peter served as the first Cathedral. 

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Ss. Peter and Paul, Boonville

In 1857, later Bishop Fr. John Hogan intended to celebrate Mass on the Feast of the Assumption, but could not because the pastor, who was gone on a mission, took the only chalice and vestments available.

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Immaculate Conception, Macon

One of the first priests recorded coming to Macon County was Father, later Bishop, John J. Hogan in August of 1857. Monthly services were conducted in homes until 1860 when a small church was erected. The church became a casualty of the Civil War when its pews, altars, and flooring were removed to use as firewood and defense ramparts. In 1865, the church was rebuilt and moved. 

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St. Brendan, Mexico

The first church was not built until 1866 and was named for St. Stephen. It was not until 1878 that the parish name was changed to St. Brendan, probably because most of the parishioners were Irish, many of them immigrants who came to build the railroad. In 1921 Msgr. Patrick Gavan came on a temporary assignment that lasted 43 years. Under his leadership, a parochial school was started and a new rectory and church were constructed. 

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St. Andrew, Tipton

St. Andrew parish, Tipton, was established in the 1840s with services held in a log church situated where the parish cemetery is today. The present Gothic Church in the center of town was dedicated on May 24, 1884. St. Andrew Church is well known for the beautiful stained-glass windows depicting the glorious and joyful mysteries of the rosary and the large Stations of the Cross placed between the windows. 

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Immaculate Conception, Brookfield

Immaculate Conception parish had its beginning on December 20. 1859, the year the town was incorporated. Rev. J.J. Hogan, the first pastor, found many Irish Catholic settlers employed by the railroad hungering for spiritual nourishment through the sacraments. Fr. Hogan would go on to become Bishop of St. Joseph and Kansas City, MO. 

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St. Boniface, Brunswick

Catholic families were among the early settlers of Brunswick. Services were held in various homes until 1860 when Fr. John Hogan began the first parish in Brunswick by renting the old City Hall. Later a frame church was built on a hill overlooking the surrounding territory. The parish was placed in the charge of the Franciscan Fathers. 

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St. Peter, Marshall

In 1851 the first framed church building was erected on the property where St. Mary's Cemetery, Shackelford, stands today. During Fr. John J. Hogan's nine-year tenure, the parish location was changed to Shackelford. 

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Holy Family, Sweet Springs

Holy Family Parish, in Sweet Springs was established in the 1940s as a Mission parish served by the pastor of Immaculate Conception. The mission was closed for a few years. The number of Catholic families increased again, and the church was reopened under the care of the St. Peter Parish.

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St. Joseph, Martinsburg

Martinsburg was founded on the North Missouri Railroad built by Irish Catholic labor in 1857. The first house was home to a section boss and the town's first Mass was celebrated in that Irish Catholic home. The real drive to St. Joseph's becoming a viable parish, however, came from the German immigrants. They began arriving on the Grand Prairie in the 1870s at the urging of a Catholic priest who was preaching the availability of good farmland. It was not long before these settlers wanted their own church rather than be served as a mission of other towns.

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Immaculate Conception, Montgomery City

Immaculate Conception is the parish home of Catholics residing in the Montgomery City area and beyond. Members include those who have long life of membership and service in the parish and those who have more recently moved into the community and enthusiastically become active in the life of the parish. 

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St. Patrick, Jonesburg

From its inception in 1868 to the present, St. Patrick parish has had the outstanding ability to build community spirit. Welcoming parishioners make their parish a true family and home for all who come. 

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St. Patrick, Rolla

St. Patrick parish was founded in 1862 when Father Patrick Gallagher arrived to minister to the Irish Catholic railroad workers who had settled in Rolla. The original church building, located at Seventh and State Streets, was the first building in Rolla to be built exclusively for religious services. In the early 1940's plans began for construction of a new church to meet the needs of a growing congregation. 

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Our Lady Help of Christians, Frankenstein

Our Lady Help of Christians Church was organized in 1863. The church had three different locations in its first 27 years: on a wood knoll, in a valley and on a high ridge. German and Irish immigrants settled at Frankenstein where a parish was started and named Mary, Help of Christians. The German name, Maria Hilf was in use for many years. The origin of the name Frankenstein is disputed. Some say the town was named for Gottfried Franken who donated part of the land. Others say the town was named for a benefactor in Germany named Frankenstein. 

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Most Pure Heart of Mary, Chamois

Most Pure Heart of Mary parish was formed in 1865 in Chamois. Long before the town was established, as early as 1838, Jesuit Fr. Ferdinand Helias visited the area. A former store building served as the first Catholic church in Chamois and was blessed in 1871. 

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St. Joseph, Louisiana

The Catholic people of Louisiana built a church in 1850 and had occasional Masses provided by the priest from Milwood. In 1864 the congregation received its first resident pastor and the parish of St. Joseph was formally established in 1865. The original tall steeple was burned by a fire in 1915 and in falling, caused the rectory to catch fire as well. The rectory was replaced, but not the steeple.

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St.  Boniface, Koeltztown

A log church was completed in 1861 with Fr. John Goelding offering the first Mass. Before that, Fr. Helias, a Jesuit priest, would ride by mule into the area to celebrate Mass at the Hermann Sandbothe home. The parish grew and construction of the current brick church began in 1877. 

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St. Mary, Glasgow

The original church, completed in 1869, was built on the site of the present school and was replaced in 1913 by the church that stands today. On a visit to the parish in 1909, prior to the completion of the new church, John Cardinal Glennon, Archbishop of St. Louis, stood on the hill and pointed to the distant bluffs saying, "The day is not too far distant when a modern passenger steamer will round yonder bend and an enthusiastic passenger will point out to his expectant fellow travelers a speck in the sky with the word, 'There's Glasgow; I see the cross on St. Mary's Church.'"

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St. George, Linn

The original church was as plain and simple as its members. The 75,000 bricks in the building were made in 1866 from the same earth on which the church was built. The cornerstone was laid on Pentecost 1876. A second church seating 400 that was erected next to the original required 400,000 bricks and it cornerstone was laid in 1894. When it closed in 1974, construction on the current church began. The first Mass was offered in 1976. It was dedicated on May 2, 1976.

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St. Joseph, Palmyra

In 1680, Father Hennepin, a Franciscan priest explorer from France, raised a cross and offered Mass on the banks of the Mississippi waters, which he named Bay de Charles, claiming the land for France. It was 1818 before any permanent settlers filtered into the present Palmyra parish. Few were Catholics, yet those who came formed a devout foundation for the local church. In 1866 the parish was founded and the two-story wagon shop of Price and Jackson on the west side of Lane Street was purchased for $300 and converted into a church. 

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St. Patrick, Sedalia

By 1902, when St. Vincent was declared unsafe, a new church was begun across the street. It was dedicated to St. Patrick, acknowledging the many Irish families who came to town to work on the railroad. At this time the Bishop of Kansas City declared Ohio Street the boundary between Sacred Heart on 3rd and Moniteau and St. Patrick. German immigrants were to attend Sacred Heart and Irish Catholics, either St. Patrick or Sacred Heart. 

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Visitation, Vienna 

Maries County Vienna, its county seat, came into existence in 1855. The first Catholic church, a 40-foot-long log structure, was built at the north end of Vienna on four acres. The land was donated to the St. Louis Archdiocese by Thomas and his wife, Myra Anderson, wealthy Protestants who owned a working planation in the area. 

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Notre Dame, LaGrange 

For a few months in 1893, the parish was thought to have dissolved form lack of parishioners and the church building sold, only to be deeded back and the parish reestablished. In the 1920s, Mass was discontinued and the Catholics of LaGrange rode the train to Canton for Mass. 

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St. Mary, Milan

In 1870 the first resident pastor at Unionville served the area, offering Mass in the Ryan home until St. Mary, a frame church in Milan was dedicated in 1882. Franciscans from Chillicothe attended the church from 1883 to 1887. About 1890 Fr. William F. Hanly, who built the rectory for $300, became the first resident pastor, serving Unionville as its mission. The increase in railroad shops brought growth to the town and improvements in the church and rectory. A new rectory was built in 1908 and St. Mary took on Novinger, Connelsville and Mendota as missions. 

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St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas

St. Thomas Parish recognizes its beginnings with the first missionary visit of Fr. Ferdinand Helias, S.J. in 1838. Masses were celebrated in family homes when Fr. Helias would visit. The first registered baptism took place in 1841. The first parish church, a log church, was constructed in 1848 at Indian Bottom Settlement. A frame church replaced this church in 1851. In 1856 the parish church and presbytery were relocated to the present church property in St. Thomas. 

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National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church/St. Patrick, Laurie

When the Irish immigrants arrived, they felt at home. The green hills of the Ozarks reminded them of the green hills of Ireland and Catholicism was already established. They built the church in 1868. The last regular church service was held at the Old St. Patrick's Cemetery Church, July 20, 1952. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites, March 1979. 

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Immaculate Conception, St. James

German Catholic immigrants began to arrive at the Meramac Iron Works by the way of Ohio from 1830 to 1850. Many Irish Catholic railroad workers also settled in and near St. James. In 1868 Immaculate Conception Church was officially established and is the oldest church in the community of St. James. 

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St. Joseph, Salisbury

The first movement to organize a congregation for the Catholic people of Salisbury, Missouri, was made in 1870. In 1874 Fr. M. Busch, a pastor at Glasgow induced the Salisbury congregation to build the first Catholic church edifice in Salisbury. It was a frame structure situated about a quarter mile northeast of the present church site. 

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St. Clement, St. Clement

St. Clement parish originated on August 11, 1871, when the Most Rev. Peter Kenrick, Archbishop of St. Louis, obtained 10 acres in Pike County, "on the premises" of which "there shall be erected a Catholic church to be known as the St. Clement Church," as the County Recorder of Deeds stated.  

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St. Lawrence, St. Elizabeth

German immigrants erected a small frame of church in old St. Elizabeth in 1870. When the town was relocated, a large frame building dedicated to St. Lawrence served for worship until Bishop Lillis of Leavenworth laid the cornerstone of a new church in 1905. The church was formed of 400,000 bricks made on the property of clay drawn from clay pit on the church grounds. 

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Annunciation, California

Annunciation Parish traces its origins to the missionary efforts of Fr. Ferdinand Helias, S.J., in 1857. With the building of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, many Irish families settled near California, and together with a few German families, a congregation was formed.

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Resurrection, Wellsville

Resurrection Parish of Wellsville was formed about 1873. Mass was celebrated in homes of parishioners and in a town hall. A building site was purchased and a frame church was built. Because the cornerstone was laid on Easter 1881, the church was named for the Resurrection. 

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St. Peter, Fulton

The establishment of the Catholic Church's presence in Callaway County began in 1831 when the Jesuit priests built two missions, one of which was in Fulton, Missouri. St. Peter Church was built in 1875 on Nicholas Street and was served for 30 years by priests from neighboring towns. The Church was erected as a parish with its first resident pastor in 1905.

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Assumption, Morrison

In 1853 a priest from Hermann began visiting a few families near Gasconade. It was later decided to build a new church at Morrison as most of the parishioners lived in and around that area. 

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Sacred Heart Church, Columbia

Catholic services were first attended in the homes of pioneers in Columbia in 1835. In 1881 worship was held monthly in the new frame church with a 75-foot spire. The present limestone Romanesque church was dedicated November 8, 1914 by Archbishop John Glennon.   

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St. Mary of the Angels, Wien

St. Mary of the Angels parish in Wien is more than 125 year old. Built in 1876 by the Franciscans as a Monastery, the parish was given to the diocesan clergy in 1914. St. Mary's was one of ten churches in the diocese to be designated as a Pilgrimage Site for the Jubilee Year.

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St. Joseph, Hurricane Branch

The history of St. Joseph, Hurricane Branch, shows that as early as 1858 Catholic families of the surrounding counties gathered once a month in private homes to attend Mass celebrated by Fr. John Hogan, then pastor at Chillicothe. Fr. Hogan continued his missionary work for more than 20 years. When Pope Pius IX appointed him bishop in 1878, the new bishop ordered the construction of St. Joseph Church.  

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Ss. Peter and Paul, Cole Camp

Ss. Peter and Paul parish in Cole Camp dates from 1878. In 1880, Cole Camp became part of the newly established Diocese of Kansas City. The original frame church was replaced in 1913 by a larger brick structure to accommodate the growing membership of Bohemian and German immigrants. In the 1970s Cole Camp became a mission of St. Ann in Warsaw, and it had shared the spiritual leadership of pastors from the Society of the Precious Blood since 1956. 

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St. Mary, Shelbina

Many of the 160 households which make up the present St. Mary' s congregation trace their ancestry to the Catholic of Maryland who migrated westward. Preserving their faith through the wilds of pioneer life in Kentucky, they came to settle claims in Monroe and Shelby County, Missouri and establish a church in the new land. One pioneer whose descendants account for nearly one-third of the present membership of the church was Mrs. Susan Beaven Gough McAtee.

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Holy Cross, Cuba

The first Holy Cross Catholic Church was erected in Cuba in 1880. In 1924 the first permanent pastor, Fr. Curtis J. Hornsey, purchased the Haskell Manor and 10 adjoining acres. The Manor became the convent of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the first Catholic elementary school between Pacific and Springfield in 1928. 

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Sacred Heart, Bevier

In 1938, because of severe storm damage to the first church building, the present clay brick structure was erected and, amazingly enough considering it was the middle or a depression, paid for. That story and the stories of the people who made it happen tell a great deal about one of the few self-supporting mission parishes in the nation. They began pulling down the old church on the first of March 1938 and with volunteer labor, constructed the basement dug by hand. The dirt was hauled away by horse and wagon. 

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St. Stanislaus, Wardsville

St. Stanislaus parish was established in 1880 and St. Stanislaus School in 1882. Catholic education has always been a centerpiece of this beautiful Catholic parish located in Wardsville. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, classes were taught in both English and German languages to meet the needs of the large number of immigrants from Germany. The hilly, wooded village of Wardsville remined the German immigrants of their homeland. Prayers were also recited in both languages, thereby enabling some to act as interpreters for those who knew only German.

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Sacred Heart, Sedalia

The first Sacred Heart Church, rectory, school and convent were built by Fathers of the Society of the Most Precious Blood from Ohio in October 1882. Then the parish primarily served German immigrants who had previously belonged to St. Vincent, Sedalia. Sisters of the Congregation of the Precious Blood from Dayton, Ohio, taught in the school.

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St. Joseph, Slater

In the fall of 1877 the Catholic families of Slater were able to participate in Mass in their hometown. That first Mass was celebrated in the Chicago and Alton railroad station house with Fr. John T.D. Murphy, the pastor of Marshall's Catholic church, officiating. In May 1882, T.B. Blackstone, president of the Chicago and Alton Railroad, donated the site where the present church is located. The parish then consisted of about 25 families. 

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Our Lady of the Snows, Mary's Home

The community built its first church in 1883, calling it St. Mary. Robert Morgan, the local tavern and landowner, was helping the area procure its first post office. By his persuasion, the people decided to name their new town Morgan. The following Sunday, the good priest pounded the pulpit insisting that he had founded the town and it would be named Mary's Home. Thus was born the town's name. 

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St. Patrick, Clarence

Soon after Clarence was incorporated in 1866, Catholic families of German and Irish descent opened businesses under names Langenbach, Riley, Hogan, Hunolt, and Cleary. Some accounts maintain that Bishop Hogan had said Mass in the area as early as 1855. Father Cahill from Macon celebrated Mass in the homes. 

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Holy Rosary, Monroe City

Holy Rosary Parish, Monroe City, was founded in 1884 to serve English/Irish settlers from Maryland and Kentucky, some of whom traced their faith back to the renowned English martyr, Edmund Campion. In 1919 Msgr. Connolly arrived as pastor of Holy Rosary, a position he held for 55 years, serving in three different dioceses without moving from Holy Rosary! 

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St. Martin, St. Martins

Founded in 1885 to serve a largely German immigrant population, St. Martin parish continues to be a strong, vibrant faith community dedicated to serving the Lord and one another as well as broader church. 

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St. Raphael, Indian Grove

The Catholic congregation of St. Raphael was started by pioneers from Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, and other countries. Since there was no church, Mass was celebrated in the home of Anastasia Senn.  

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Mary Immaculate, Kirksville

Mary Immaculate Parish was founded in 1886 as a mission of St. Mary parish in Adair to serve the people who traveled to Kirksville for medical treatment. The first church was built for $3,400. A number of gifts, such as a crucifix and a statue of the Sacred Heart, were given to the church by grateful patients of Dr. A.T. Still, but most of these were destroyed during a cyclone on April 27, 1899.

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Queen of Peace, Ewing

The parish has the distinction of having been served briefly by the first black priest, Fr. Augustine Tolton. He sang the Mass at the laying of the church cornerstone in May 31, 1889, and ministered there in later years.   

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Mary Immaculate, Catholic Newman Center, Kirksville

The Newman Club began in 1952 to serve the students at Northeast Missouri State University and Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. They met in the basement of Mary Immaculate Church until 1968 when the first building was purchased at 414 W. Dodson. In 20 years, that space was outgrown and a new building was dedicated in April 1990 at the current location, 709 S. Davis. By 2000 that space was outgrown and an addition was built. The Newman Center continues to serve more than 2000 at the universities of Truman State University and A.T. Still University of Health Sciences. 

St. Bonaventure, Marceline

St. Bonaventure parish was founded in 1888 by Bishop John J. Hogan of Kansas City, Missouri, simultaneously with the establishment of the town of Marceline. The church has since been renovated several times, most recently in 2001. Its stained-glass windows have been preserved throughout the years and the life-size statue representing the crucifixion of Our Lord that now hangs in the church was imported from Europe and donated by the Croatian Lodge #150.

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St. Pius X, Moberly

Moberly began in 1870 under the pastorate of Fr. Francis McKenna. For five years a log cabin served as the first church, St. John the Baptist. In 1877 the Sisters of Loretto from Kentucky began St. Mary's Academy, a Catholic high school for girls. The following year a boys' school opened in a two-room attachment. 

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St. John, Laddonia

The Louisiana Purchase, 1803, was the remote cause of Laddonia becoming an organized township. For centuries Laddonia and environs could have been called the Land of the Tall Grass-six to eight feet tall. It was not until the advent of the steel plow that the land could be tamed. 

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Holy Guardian Angels, Brinktown

Prior to the Civil War, German immigrants John Wolfgang Viessman, born a Lutheran, and his wife Teresa Lauterbach settled in western Maries County founding a small town known as Viessman Station. For several years Mass was held in the Viessman home where a bureau served as the altar.  The original church was destroyed by fire in 1996 but rebuilt in 1998. 

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St. Michael, Kahoka

St. Michael began as a mission parish of St. Patrick, Missouri. The current church was dedicated on November 15, 1959. With seven young women dedicating their lives as religious, the parish has been fertile ground for religious life. 

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Sacred Heart, Vandalia

The Catholic Church in Vandalia had its beginning in February 1891 when five families gathered at the first service held in the home of John Frazier Conntz. Fr. Edward J. Dempsy, who resided in Mexico, Missouri, and served the area from 1891 to 1899. Fr. J. Dillon succeeded him from 1899 to 1912. 

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Immaculate Conception, Owensville

The seed of a Catholic presence in Owensville can be traced to the apostolic work of Jesuit Fr. P. J. Verhagen in 1830. However, it was under the guidance of another dedicated Jesuit priest, Fr. Alex Mathausheck, that two immigrant communities, setting aside their separate ethnic Polish and Bohemian backgrounds, agreed to establish a untied Catholic parish under the patronage of Mary of the Immaculate Conception in 1892. 

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St. Aloysius, Baring

In the late 1800's, the post-Civil War westward expansion carried a host of Catholics who found a home in Baring, a thriving railroad community. As it flourished, the need for a Catholic Church became obvious. The process of the church began in 1893. 

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St. Joseph, Pilot Grove

The Pilot Grove area was first settled in 1820 and was incorporated as a town in 1873. The first Church services were held beneath the canopy of the open sky, then in rude cabins, huts and farmers' houses. Then, in 1893, St. Joseph Catholic Church was organized by Fr. John Conrad from St. John's in Clear Creek. 

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St. Joseph, Canton

The first priest to celebrate Mass in Canton rode horseback from Edina. The first Catholic church building was erected in 1841 at a town called Tully (evacuated in 1851) near Canton not far from the site of today's Lock and Dam No. 20 on the Mississippi River. The bricks from that church were used to construct St. Joseph Church in 1869.

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Holy Spirit, Centralia

By 1869, three years after the parish's establishment, a Catholic church was built at Sturgeon, which then closed, although parishioners worshipped at Centralia or Moberly until 1949. A wood-frame church erected through the generosity of a donor, opened in Centralia in 1904.

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St. Jude Thaddeus, Mokane

Mass was celebrated in Mokane beginning in 1900. Fr. George W. Hoehn, pastor at Starkenburg, Missouri, traveled by train once a month to offer Mass in a room at the Yoest Hotel. Fr. Hoehn was the first priest assigned to St. Jude Thaddeus Chruch when it was built in 1909. The church was formerly established as a mission of St. Peter Church in Fulton in 1910. The basement was hand dug by parishioners in 1947, and the expansion of the Church in 1966 doubled the size of the original building. St. Jude Thaddeus was erected as an independent parish in 1969.

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St. William, Perry

The Faith Community that exists in and around Perry had its beginnings more than a century ago in 1901 when it became a mission of St. Paul Church in rural Center. Records indicate that Matthew Elliot, James Keenan and Michael Fitzpatrick deeded the land for St. William in 1966. 

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St. Rose of Lima, Novinger

St. Rose of Lima, Novinger, was established by Fr. Albert B. Gassd who pastored the church at Kirksville from December 1903 to 1910. Prior to that a church existed at Collinsville four miles north. St. Rose served the growing needs of the Irish, Croation and Italian immigrants in the coal mining business. It was dedicated on October 18, 1905 by Bishop Maurice F. Burke of St. Joseph.

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Holy Family, Freeburg

Holy Family parish, Freeburg was founded in 1904. As a small wooden chapel, the church stood directly to the west of the present church. Not many years later, it was discovered that the church would be too small for those attending services. In the spring of 1920, ground was broken and the foundation built of solid rock began for the present church, which today is known as the "Cathedral of the Ozark" for its Romanesque architecture design and twin 96-foot steeples with gilded crosses pointed towards heaven, raising heart and mind to God. It was dedicated on August 8, 1921. 

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St. Cecilia, Meta

Despite renovations to the church in 1933, the church building continued to deteriorate until in 1943 the Archbishop of St. Louis granted permission to build a new church. Construction began, but the project fell victim to the illness and death of the first builders, the enlistment of many men either in defense plants or the armed services during World War II, years of economic depression and drought and flooding. Finally, in January 1950 construction resumed and the new church was dedicated on April 1951 by Archbishop Joseph Ritter. 

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St. Louis of France, Bonnots Mill

Bonnots Mill is the oldest town in Osage County. Original settlers, mainly early French fur traders, established French Village, which stood very near the present Bonnots Mill. Jesuit Fr. Helias arrived in the area in 1838 and was the first priest to minister to the Catholics in French Village. 

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St. Anthony of Padua, Folk

St. Anthony of Padua parish was founded in 1905 on the faith of 47 families who wanted a place to worship that was nearer to their homes. Monsignor Otto Hoog of the Archdiocese of St. Louis granted them permission to form the parish of St. Anthony of Padua in Folk, Missouri, and assigned Rev. John Hoeschen as the first pastor. The first Mass was celebrated on Pentecost Sunday, June 11, 1905.

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St. Michael, Russellville

On October 15, 1887, $100 was donated for a parcel of land deeded to Russellville to establish a Catholic community. Fr. John Schramm laid a stone symbolizing the intent to build a church and Catholic parish. Through the contributions of 33 people, a small frame church surrounded by gorgeous oak trees was built on the newly purchased acre and a half. It was a mission of St. Martins.  

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St. Anthony, St. Anthony

Early member of the Catholic church in St. Anthony traveled long miles to worship in St. Elizabeth. But in 1906 Fr. Brunch and community volunteers poured the foundation for the first church in the new parish named to honor St. Anthony of Padua. Because the parish lacked a resident pastor, priests from Brinktown, Vienna, and St. Elizabeth journeyed to St. Anthony to offer Mass. 

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St. Margaret of Antioch, Osage Bend

At the request of 23 families in Osage Bend, Archbishop John J. Glennon of St. Louis established St. Margaret of Antioch Parish in 1907. The first Mass was celebrated in the original wooden church on November 1, that same year. The first picnic was held on July 22, 1907. 

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St. Alexander, Belle 

Until the end of the last century, there were many Catholic families in Belle and the surrounding countryside. Their parents were German and Irish immigrants strong in faith. Lacking a near-by place to worship, some of these families eventually joined one of the local churches, but others held onto their faith by crossing the fields and Gasconade River into Rich Fountain every Sunday for Mass. 

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St. Anthony, Rosati

The first church was built in 1906. It was named Chiesa di Sant' Antonio de Padoua, St. Anthony of Padua. Fr. Ottavio Leone was the first pastor and early church records were written in Italian. This church burned in 1918. A second church, opened a year later, burned in 1946 and in 1947 was replaced by a brick structure, which stands today. 

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St. Aloysius, Argyle 

Fr. Joseph Clooney, who served in Argyle from 1919 through 1925, decided that the church should be built in the form of a cross. To accomplish this the building was cut in two and the sacristy was pulled back. The building was moved with horses, a track, and a pulley system. The cross addition was then built to fill in the gap, extending the church's width by six feet on each side.

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Sacred Heart, Eldon

 Sacred Heart Church of Eldon is in Miller County. However, the foundations for this parish were laid to the west in Morgan County. In 1863, ten Irish Catholic families settled in Morgan County. By 1868 they had started to build a stone church on what is now state road "O," just east of Laurie. This was the beginning of the Catholic presence in the area. 

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Immaculate Conception, Jefferson City

Jefferson City's second parish was established in 1913 by Rev. John B. Pleus. Immaculate Conception is currently the largest parish in Jefferson City. 

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St. Francis, Bourbon

In 1910 Bourbon had 10 Catholic families who decided to build a church. The church of St. Francis Carracciolo was dedicated on June 14, 1914. The church has as its patron the 16th century Italian priest who was co-founder of a religious congregation to combine the active and the contemplative life. 

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St. Theresa, Dixon

Although the church honoring St. Theresa of Lisieux was built in 1925, it was not to become an established parish until 1928. If not the first church to be named in honor of St. Theresa (canonized May 17, 1925), it very well may have been among the first in the world.  

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Our Lady of the Lake, Lake Ozark

Our Lady of the Lake parish was established when a quaint stone chapel was completed on November 1, 1942. As visitors to the Lake area increased, so did the crowds at the church. By the summer 1962, 12 Masses were celebrated each Sunday. The little chapel, which stood on the site of Monarch Plaza, was eventually torn down. The present church and former rectory on its current site replaced it. With the completion of the new church, a resident pastor was assigned to serve the parish at the Lake of the Ozarks. 

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St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Robert

In June 1942, early World War II, Fr. Herman Schuessler came from Dixon to celebrate Mass with a few Catholics assembled in the old Waynesville Theater. From these humble beginnings was built the first concrete block church structure in 1951. Cardinal Joseph Ritter of St. Louis, inspired by the first name of Fr. Robert Arnold, dedicated the Church to St. Robert Bellarmine, the 16th century cardinal, theologian and patron of catechists. 

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St. Ann, Warsaw

In May 1946 St. Ann became a mission of the Catholic church in Windsor with priests of the Society of the Precious Blood continuing to serve when St. Ann became part of the newly formed Diocese of Jefferson City in 1956. Too small to meet the needs of a growing parish, the original building went through several modifications between 1956 and 1966. Ten years later, St. Ann was officially established as a parish. 

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St. Anthony, Camdenton

From its humble beginnings in 1947 when the first Mass was celebrated in a private home by the then pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Eldon, to the present Eucharist celebrations in the beautiful, new church dedicated by Bishop John R. Gaydos on June 13, 2000, the parish community had been noted for its participation in the faith life of the parish and its active community outreach. 

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St. Michael, Steelville

In the summertime when the area drew a lot of tourists to float the area streams and stay at the resorts and camp grounds, St. Michael would overflow out on the streets and people would stand at the windows to hear Mass. Realizing that the church space was becoming inadequate for Sunday Mass, a building fund was started. 

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Queen of Peace, Clarksville

A parish existed in Clarksville from 1868 to 1888 under the title of St. Joseph, but, along with its small wood frame church, it faded away. In 1951 a Catholic mission parish was established in the same area, using a rented storefront as a gathering space for worship. 

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St. John Le Land, Memphis

In early 1952, Fr. Mel Newman, of St. Mary of Adair said the first Mass in Memphis in a private home. For the next five years, through the hard work of the people and the encouragement of Fr. Newman, an upper room on the square was secured for the fledgling community. Along with two refrigerator boxes that served as confessionals, donations from neighboring parishes gave the chapel its Catholic character. In 1955 Bishop John P. Cody gave permission to buy land and build a church. 

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St. Frances Cabrini, Paris

In May 1952, Fr. P.J. Gannon wrote to Bishop Charles H. LeBlond of St. Joseph, Missouri, about building a church in Paris. Permission was granted and eight acres at the southwest edge of Paris were purchased from Claud and Rose Williamson. The church would be a mission attached to the Indian Creek Parish.

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St. Joseph, Fayette

In 1954 Joseph Cardinal Ritter, Archbishop of St. Louis, expressed a desire for a new church in Howard County, and Fr. Thomas Sullivan was appointed pastor. Groundbreaking for the new St. Joseph's took place in Fayette just after Easter 1956. The cornerstone of the L-shaped structure was laid May 30, 1956. the first Mass was Midnight Mass at Christmas 1956, dedicated on March 19, 1957.

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The Diocese of Jefferson City

The Diocese of Jefferson City is a suffragan, or subordinate, of the Metropolitan See of St. Louis. Pope Pius XII established the Diocese on November 27, 1956 from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Diocese of Kansas City and the former Diocese of St. Joseph.


Our Lady of Lourdes, Columbia

From 1881 to 1958 the spiritual needs of the Catholic community were provided for by Sacred Heart, the first permanent parish in Columbia. Conceived by the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 1956, Our Lady of Lourdes was established as part of the newly formed Diocese of Jefferson City. 

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St. Joseph Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St. Joseph is the embodiment of the vision of the first Bishop of Jefferson City, Bishop Joseph M. Marling, CPPS, following the Second Vatican Council. Monsignor Joseph A. Vogelweid, selected St. Joseph as the patron. 

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St. Thomas More Newman Center, Columbia

St. Thomas Newman Center was established as a parish in 1963. A church was built on a prime location adjacent to the University of Missouri in 1964. The campus ministry mission was coupled with that of a parish from the beginning. In 1994, the addition of a new worship space and the renovation of old space into classrooms continued the mission of serving the community of resident parish families and thousands of college students. 

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St. Philip Benizi, Versailles

Scattered among three parishes, Versailles Catholics traveled miles to Mass every Sunday as well as to religious services and instructions. They were never part of any parish, yet they were faithful in preserving the faith their parents had devotedly passed on to them. Finally, in 1962 a small group of people petitioned the bishop to build a church. 

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St. Cornelius, Crocker

St. Cornelius Parish was organized in 1962. On October 29, 1962, Fr. Peter Walsh celebrated Mass in the local funeral home chapel. Later seven acres of land on the north edge of town were purchased. Upon its completion and furnishing, the church was dedicated by Bishop Marling on April 3, 1966. 

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Bishop Marling served nationally as the President of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and was one of the founding members of the Missouri Catholic Conference in 1967.


The First Bishop was the Most Reverend Joseph M. Marling, CPPS, who established the foundations of the young Diocese. He served until his resignation in 1969.

The Second Bishop was the Most Reverend Michael F. McAuliffe, S.T.D., who was ordained and installed in 1969. He further implemented the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Bishop McAuliffe served nationally as the Episcopal Moderator to the Catholic Scouts and as chairman for the Role of Women in the Church committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference.


St. Jude, Richland

St. Jude Parish, Richland, is situated at the edge of the diocese. Until 1972 the people living there went to the surrounding parishes. The founding pastor worked with the 87 interested Catholics to build a parish. Forty-seven people attended the first Mass on June 17, 1972. The parish had a parish council before a parish building. The United Methodist Church building was the first place of worship. 

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St. Bernadette, Hermitage

St. Bernadette parish is located in the vicinity of Lake Pomme de Terre in Hickory County. The members of the church run the gamut of ages, from retired people to small children. Being the only Catholic church in Hickory County, it fulfills the needs of area residents and the many visitors to the lake. 

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St. Andrew, Holts Summit

The Catholic community north of the Missouri River was challenged in 1974 to start a church in Holts Summit. Warning of possible serious difficulties, Fr. John Bechanan, pastor of St. Peter, Jefferson City, asked the community to try. Lacking monetary means for a church, the people came together and built a strong community. The first Mass was held outdoors and was followed by liturgies in a firehouse and civic center. 

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The Church of the Risen Savior, Rhineland

St. Martin Parish was chartered in 1848. The parish was named after St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, France. One year later 40 acres were obtained and a log church was built on the site. In 1872, parishioners began to replace the log church with one of stone. In 1873, a cornerstone was laid for the new St. Martin Church. In 1891, a 125-foot steeple with two large bells was added. 

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Our Lady of the Snows, Climax Springs

Our Lady of the Snows Mission Church was established in January 1983 as an outdoor Mass station under the guidance of Fr. Joseph Starman on land donated by Fred and Louise Baker. The initial planning meeting was held at Baker's Resort and was well attended. 

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Most Reverend Michael F. McAuliffe, S.T.D. retired.

The Most Reverend John R. Gaydos, was ordained and installed as third Bishop of Jefferson City in the Cathedral in 1997.


In 2013, the number of Catholics per priest ratio is one priest for 898 Catholics. One Christian brother, one Dominican brother and 45 Sisters also work in the Diocese, which has three high schools, 37 elementary schools and one Catholic hospital. Religious communities of men include the Precious Blood and Dominican Fathers. Among the community of women religious are the Carmelite, Dominican, Incarnate Word, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Franciscan, Precious Blood and Mercy sisters.