Missionary priests traveled along the Kansas Pacific Railway from 1886 to 1896, ministering to Catholics in the settlements that had sprung up along its path. Among them was the town originally known as Buffalo Park.
Capuchin priests followed from 1896 to 1901. Capuchin Father Paul Werr, who had continued to celebrate Mass in residents’ homes, suggested that perhaps it was time that a church be built. The president of the town company, which owned much of the land in the county, agreed to donate a city block, 15 acres for a cemetery and $400 toward the effort, even though he wasn’t Catholic.
The attract more settlers, the parish advertised in three German Catholic newspapers in the east, citing affordable land ($5 to $6 an acre) and the plans for a new church.
A frame building 30 by 60 feet was completed in 1900 with the help of many of the new arrivals.
The first resident priest was assigned in 1905. By 1908, parishioners made plans to build a larger church, but several years of crop failures prompted them to enlarge the existing church instead.
After the end of World War I and better crops, the parish built a brick structure at a cost of $74,500. The new church seated more than 650.
A public school district was organized in 1878, but with so many Catholic families in the area, its character became that of a parochial school. Sisters of St. Joseph were hired in 1909 as teachers in the public school, then gave catechetical instruction before and after the school day. They taught at the public school until 1973.
202 Cottonwood St.
Park, KS 67751
30 minutes before Mass
Fr. James Maruthukunnel Thomas, CMI
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