About Us - Our History

It began in 1865.

People gathered to celebrate Mass with our first pastor, Father H. Paul Werhle.  

The first church building, a frame structure on South Main Street, was dedicated by Bishop Luers on Rosary Sunday in 1868. 

A Sisters’ Residence was built in 1872 for the Sisters of Saint Agnes, a religious community of dedicated women destined to serve at Saint Mary’s for over a century.  Their residence served as the first school-house.

Father Werhle was succeeded by Father L. Weiser (1868 – 1871), Father Henry Meissner (1871 – 1875) and Father Matthias Zumbuelte (1875 – 1876).  The parish was given to the Benedictine Fathers in the hope that a seminary would be established .  Benedictine priests served the people of Saint Mary’s until a diocesan priest, Father Philip Guethoff, was appointed pastor in 1889.

Father Guethoff realized the church building was too small for the growing congregation.  Despite opposition from some parishioners who were quite satisfied with the existing church building, he was able to convince the community to build the present church on Joliet Street in 1890.  

A convent and the present rectory were erected in 1911. 

Father Guethoff remained pastor until his death in 1943 when he was succeeded by Father Joseph Hammes who had been serving at Saint Mary’s as an assistant since 1926.

Father Hammes led the effort to construct a new convent, school building and gym in 1959.

Father Hammes served as pastor until his retirement in 1972 when he was succeeded by Monsignor Vincent Lengerich.

Monsignor Lengerich served as pastor until 1983 when he was succeeded by Monsignor Don Grass. 

Father Grass led the effort to enlarge the school building in 1992 and renovate the church building in 2002.  He was succeeded as pastor by Father Patrick Kalich in 2003.