History of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Parsons, Kansas

The bells of St. Mary ParishIn 1909, additional responsibility came when Bishop Hennessy established St. Mary’s parish on the West side of Parsons to care for the parishioners living a long distance from St. Patrick’s church.  Father Neusius, pastor of St. Patrick’s , was charged with the purchase of property for the new church, buying the block at the corner of Crawford and Thirtieth streets.

The cornerstone of the new St. Mary’s was laid in the fall of the year and the following summer, Bishop Hennessy dedicated the new church.  St. Mary’s was, at the time, in the middle of a prairie and it was necessary to cross a foot bridge when the cornerstone was laid in December 1909.  Father Hayden, assistant at St. Patrick’s said Mass in the new edifice.

Reverend Father P. McCullough was established as pastor of the new church in 1911, coming from Cherryvale.  The new parish was facing a large debt and it was up to the struggling pastor and parishioners to raise large funds.  A temporary residence was constructed within six months.

The church debt paid, the parishioners began to think of a new school and in 1912 the foundation was laid.  In 1913, the first half of the two-story structure was completed and formally opened September 22.  The Sisters of St. Joseph were placed in charge and 34 students enrolled the first year.

In 1923, a church bell tower and vestibule were added and bells were purchased for St. Mary’s church at a cost of $2,350.  By 1925, St. Mary’s school was doubled – a basement and heating plant plus inside toilets were installed and a second floor was added.  Total cost of this addition was $13,432.

In 1928, Rev. Dr. J.W. Maher was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s.  A noted public speaker, he served until his death in September 1936.  Father Thomas Maher replaced his brother as pastor of St. Mary’s.

With Father Hertel’s arrival in 1953, it was determined that all the buildings had deteriorated to the extent that they needed to be replaced and an extensive building program was undertaken.  A new rectory was completed in 1953, and a new grade school was completed in 1957.

In 1963, a new church for St. Mary’s was built and dedicated.

In 1964, Father Joseph Fischer replaced Father Hertel as pastor of St. Mary’s

In 1968, Father James Spexarth took over as pastor of St. Mary’s.

In 1973, Father Francis Cox was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s.

Father Alonzo R. Smithhisler was appointed pastor of St. Mary’s in 1983.

On December 9, 1984, St. Mary’s Parish was rededicated as Mary Queen of Peace parish.

Father John S. Zich took over as pastor of Mary Queen of Peace parish in 1986.