St. Mary's Church is the second oldest place of worship in the city. Along about 1880 the members of the Catholic religion who had previously made their homes in this locality conceived the idea of building a place of worship, and in 1881 the church was built. It was mostly done by subscriptions taken among the members, a few of the believers in other religions subscribing freely. The ground on which the edifice was built was donated by Mr. James Quirk. At the time of the building of this church the two nationalities of this vicinity—the Irish and Bohemian—both used the church as a place of worship, and it was not until several years later, or in 1891, that the congregations were divided.
The first pastor in charge of the church was Rev. P. McNamara, from Toronto, who held services here at regular periods. He retained the charge for a number of years, after which time it was taken care of by Rev. Father Laffin, from Marion, who came here once a month and conducted services.
In 1897 the first resident priest was sent, in the person of Rev. Father McAuliffe, who remained for three years, afterward being sent to Coon Rapids. During the time he was here many improvements were made in the church furniture and fixtures, a new altar being put in, which added materially to the inside appearance of the structure. Following him came Rev. Father Nolan, who remained for eleven months, then being sent to Washington, D. C., by the archbishop, in recognition of his services and ability. In November, 1900, Rev. Father McNamnra took charge, he remaining in charge until 1912, when a transfer was made with Rev. C. S. Regan of West Union, the latter assuming the local charge and Rev, McNamara going to Waukon. Much has been accomplished by Rev. McNamara and Rev. Regan, during their respective terms as pastors.
The church was built at a cost of about fourteen hundred dollars, and the improvements which have been added from time to time has made it a valuable property. The parsonage was erected in 1897, during the time when Father McAuliffe was in charge, and is a most pleasant and commodious place of residence. Both the church and the parsonage are fitted with electric lights, besides having all the other improvements and conveniences accessible. The church is furnished inside with handsome furniture, pews, altars and statues.
This article is from Oxford Mirror, Thursday, December 16, 1915, 37th Year, Number 4.