The Church of St. James in Catawissa, Missouri was dedicated on September
1st, 1913. The small wooden building with white walls and shingled
roof, located in Franklin County, stands today as a living
tribute to the deep and enduring faith of the catholic faith of the
catholic families of the area.
history of the parish began with the establishment of the much older
church of St. Patrick, in Armagh. Erected in 1844 as a log
structure, it served the pioneers in the Meramec River area until a
stone structure was completed in 1864.
official history of St. James Parish began with the assignment of
Fr. Author O'Reilly in 1906 as Pastor of St. Patrick. As the
general population of the Catawissa grew at the turn of the century,
so did the Catholic population. The Church of St. Patrick was the
only church in the area, but the two miles from town to church was
considered too great a difficulty, especially in rainy conditions
when roads would wash out. As a result, some parishioners asked that
a new church be built closer to town. Seven years later, in 1913,
the church was dedicated and St. James became a Mission of St.
Patrick's church. Ironically the reverse in the situation today. It
was 11 years later, in 1924 that Fr. Joseph Casey was appointed
Pastor of St. Patrick's and plans were initiated for constructing a
Rectory at St. James. That two-story frame house still serves
as a very comfortable and functional Rectory. In 1925, the Parish
census showed that St. James Parish has a population of 35 families,
all of German and Irish decent.
was some 25 years later, in 1951, that St. James became a parish
administered by a number of Priest from various parishes; for
example, Fr. Joseph Anler would drive from St.Rose of Lima Parish
each weekend to attend to St. James; in 1960, the administration of
the parish was given to St.Bridget's Parish in neighboring Pacific,
Missouri. In 1981 Fr. Walter Boul was appointed as Pastor, and upon
his retirement in 1988 Fr. Donald Murphy was assigned to the Parish
until his death in 1994. Fr. Richard Coerver was assigned pastor of
St. James in June of 2002 with Associate Pastor Fr. Martin Mannion.
Fr. Coerver with Fr. Mannion assumed the duties of St. Bridget of
Kildare, St. James and St. Mary's Catholic Church Communities.
2003, Father Richard Coerver was reassigned to St. Gertrude's in
Krakow and Father Mark S. Bozada was assigned to St. James along
with St. Mary's. St. Bridget of Kildare was assigned to have their
2012, Father Mark Bozada was also assigned St. Bridget of Kildare in
Pacific along with St. James and St. Mary's.
Joining Father Mark was Father Rodger Fleming as Associate Pastor and
Deacon Dr. Michael Suden.
more detailed study of the history of the Parish would reveal the
dedication and determination of the people of St. James Parish over
these 75 years. As a Parish Family, they have suffered on many
occasions from local crop failures to a world-wide depression. For
one half of its existence, St. James has not had a resident Pastor;
and yet, the constant desire for a Catholic Church in Catawissa has
kept the people coming and working for its success. Today, there are
more than 115 families registered as parishioners, while children
from the parish attend Catholic Schools in Pacific and Washington.
great pride, St. James' parishioners view the past, including the
Ordination of the Priesthood of two parishioners. Fr. Hilbert
Schmelz in 1960 and Fr. Thomas Molini in 1985; Fr. Schmelz died in
1983 and is buried in the parish Cemetery; Fr. Molini serves at a
Parish in St. Louis.
Detailed history of St.James