St. Mary Help of Christians Parish – Gorham

Founded 1894

Seven miles east of Victoria, the Gorham parish was the first to branch off from St. Fidelis Parish and form its own congregation. Ethnic German families emigrating from the Volga River region of Russia settled the Ellis County area in 1876.

Catholics at Gorham sought to form their own parish in 1893. They began building a church in 1894, but crop failures and a general financial depression delayed completion until 1898. The parish’s 32 families donated between $25 and $50 each to build the church, which still stands today.

Elijah Gorham, founder of the town, was not Catholic, but he donated the land for the church in hopes of encouraging more settlers.

The same native stone that makes up the church was used to build a rectory in 1902 and a grade school and a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1905. The church was enlarged in 1910.

The parish opened a grade school and high school in a new building 1922. The high school operated until 1940, and the grade school was closed in 1969.

A 1949 tornado damaged the top floor of the two-story school house, and it was rebuilt as a one-story structure in four months.

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