St. Agnes Parish – Grainfield

Founded 1910

Mass was celebrated as early as 1885 in residents’ homes. Catholics began work to organize their own parish in 1908, and Bishop John Cunningham gave his permission in 1909. Their first church was dedicated in October 1910, although cheesecloth covered the window openings and planks were laid on nail kegs for pews, a church history notes. A rectory was built in 1921.

On April 28, 1928, after the final Sunday Mass, smoke was seen pouring from the church. The fire quickly spread to the rectory and destroyed both buildings. Masses then were celebrated temporarily in the high school basement.

Parishioners began rebuilding by digging a basement, with plans to build a church above it later. Palm Sunday Mass was celebrated in the substory church in 1929. A new rectory was completed that fall.

The Great Depression and subsequent Dust Bowl years put any new building plans on hold. By 1941, with good crops and higher prices, parishioners began a building fund. The outbreak of World War II again delayed any construction, but fund-raising continued.

By 1947, with the war won, building plans surged ahead. The decision was made not to build upon the basement, which by now was not considered large enough, nor sturdy enough. A new brick and stone church was designed to seat 450, and work began in 1949. The $200,000 structure was dedicated in 1951. The basement church, which had served the parish for two decades, was demolished in 1975.

In 1959, just shy of the parish’s 50th anniversary, 78 stained glass windows, designed by a New York firm and constructed in Holland, were installed.

The parish constructed an education center in 1964, and a major renovation of the church was completed in 1982.

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