This story of St. James came from a book written
by Father Thomas Molini
St. Patrick's of Armaugh
Church and Fr. O'Reilly
Planning and Construction
St. James as a Mission
1924-1951 Resident Pastors
Parish without a Pastor
1981 to the Present
Patrick's Church of Armaugh and Fr. O'Reilly
The history of St. James
Church begins with the establishment of the much older church of St.
Patrick. Erected in 1844, the first St. Patrick's church was a log
structure which served the pioneers in the Meramec River area until
church was completed a few years after 1864. This was due primarily
through the efforts begun by Father Phillip Grace in 1857.
The stone church suffered extensive damage
from a fire in 1885 leaving only the stone walls. With the
generosity and dedication of the parishioners, in less than a year
both church and rectory were completed. Fr. Berry continued to serve
the parish until his death in 1901.
Fr. E.T. Gallagher was assigned to St.
Patrick's in 1901 and worked in the area for five years. He died
March 16, 1906 and was buried at St. Patrick's Church.
Father Arthur O'Reilly was assigned to
Armaugh in 1906 and it is with him that the official history of St.
James Church begins.
Catawissa was growing at the turn of the century. After it's
establishment in 1860, it proved to be a center of activity for the
local settlers. By the early 20th century, not only did the St.
Louis and San Francisco Railroad pass through Catawissa, but a
variety of businesses had opened in town including two general
stores, a lumber yard, a grain mill and elevator, two blacksmiths, a
cobbler, a dentist, two doctors, a barber, and two saloons. On June
18, 1909, the Bank of Catawissa was established with Mr. Ben Scheve,
Sr. as president, Mr. William E. Kramme, vice-president, and Mr.
Martin P. Geatley as cashier.
As the general
population grew, so did the Catholic congregation. St. Patrick
church was still the only church in the area. The modest distance of
about two miles from town to church was difficult in agreeable
weather. In rainy and winter conditions, the roads could wash out
with mud so thick the wagons would get stuck. As a result, some
parishioners asked that a new church be built closer to town. While
many of the townspeople were in favor of the idea, the issue created
circumstances of the parish's foundation, Father T.J. Walsh, the
second pastor of St. James wrote, "Father O'Reilly was not in
favor of the new church, but the Archbishop (Glennon) permitted it's
erection after six months agitation and collection of sufficient
funds. In an interview, Dr. William McHugh, D.D.S., recalls what he
heard concerning the dispute about a new church. He said, "When
that church in Catawissa was built, some funny things went on aobut
that. There was some fellow named Jim Dalton in Catawissa that
sponsored and backed this church up. Now all the Irish down around
my neighborhood where I was raised didn't go so much for that
Catawissa church. John Lynch, Johnny Lynch's father, ....referred to
St. James church as the St. Jimmy Dalton church."
An acre of property was
secured from James Whitsett and the Bank of Kimmswick on February
21, 1913. This was recorded in the Recorder of Deeds Office of
Franklin County, Missouri. Work began immediately on the foundation
of the church. The cornerstone was donated by B.A.Henderson
of Pacific, Mo. and was laid on May 18, 1913 by Father C.E.Byrne of
Holy Name Church in St. Louis. He later became the Bishop of
The church was
dedicated on September 1, 1913.
James as a Mission Church
memories of St. James Parish include the first confirmation held in
the church shortly after it's construction. Mrs. Emily Geatley was
in that first class and recalls the catechism classes she attended
at St. Patrick's in preparation for the sacrament. They were
conducted by Father O'Reilly. Being a well read man, some have said
that it was difficult for him to speak on an elementary level for
the children. However, there was no doubt abut his dedication to the
people and the Church.
Sunday Masses were held at
both churches. Father O'Reilly would say earlly mass at one church
and then drive his buggy over rough roads in all weather to the
other church. Due to the condition of the road, the beginning of
Mass varied week to week. It was a time consuming and difficult
While Father O'Reilly
was pastor, he lived at St. Patrick's and St. James Church remained
a mission. The exact date of Father O'Reilly's departure is
difficult to establish but his last entry in the Baptismal Register
- 1951 Resident Pastors
March of 1924, Father Joseph Casey was appointed to Catawissa as
pastor of St. James Church and plans were initiated for a rectory. While
living in a rented house, Father Casey made the financial
preparations and started building in September, 1924. The two story
frame house was ready for occupancy November 9, 1924.
The year of 1924
proved to be an eventful year for St. James parish. After the
completion of the rectory, Father Casey moved in the house. Father
Jacob DeMoor lived in the residence for one month in 1924 also. In
December, Father Casey resigned as pastor due to illness.
His replacement was
Father Thomas J. Walsh who arrived in March of 1925. He is
remembered by Dan Macquire as being a rather stout and tall man. On
a questionaire completed by Father Walsh, he describes the parochial
and economic situation of the area. He says, "Most farms are
run down and thus have not labor to work them. Many farms vacant and
connot sell except to ignorant people who in turn, vacate." He
saw no prospect for development and listed the parish as financially
The parish census had only
35 families on it of German and Irish descent. Father Walsh also
wrote that many had to return to the sacraments. Thus, in the late
1920's, St. James as a parish was having difficulty. It was also at
this time that the weekly Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's was
cancelled. The predominant reason for this action was the condition
of the roads which, by this time, had become impassable during the
The 1930's were quiet in
Catawissa. Not much is recorded beyond the usual sacramental
information. One event that affected the parish was the acquisition
of property. On October 25, 1937, Otto and Rose Flesche sold to
Archbishop Glennon the acreage known as the Whitsetts first addition
Catawissa. This piece of property enlarged the parish plant
considerably and allowed the people to build a parish hall later.
In the latter part of 1940,
Father Walsh was transferred from Catawissa. This good and holy man
continued to serve the church until his death on May 21, 1945.
During the year 1941, the parish was administered to by Father
Charles W. Quinn, C.Ss.R.
Father Charles B.
O'Donnell was assigned to Catawissa in 1941 and his first baptism at
St. James is dated January 11, 1942. Dr. William McHugh remembers
him as a great man. He said that when he was transferred five years
later, even the Protestants sent a petition to the Archbishop asking
that he be allowed to stay. That in itself is a testimony to the
dedication of this man to the Church.
He was replaced by Father
A.J. Whalen who stated in Catawissa for only a short time. He
arrived in the spring of 1947 and was re-assigned in January of
1948. At this point, Father Francis J. O'Donnell was sent to St.
James. He arrived in February of 1948 and stayed until his death on
June 7, 1951.
Following his death, the
decision was made by Archbishop Ritter that no replacement be sent
to the parish. From then until 1981. the parish was listed as a
"parish without a pastor" and was administered to by a
number of priests from various parishes.
without a Pastor
first administrator after the death of Fr. O'Donnell was Father
Joseph H. Anler. He took the train weekly to the parish. Arriving on
Saturday, he would stay for the Sunday Mass and return in the
evening to his residence at St. Rose of Lima Parish in North St.
Louis City. This routine continued for a year until it was decided
that a closer parish to Catawissa take care of St. James. Thus, in
1952, Father Anthony Talir was appointed administrator of St. James
as well as St. Mary's Parish in Moselle, Missouri, which was his
place of residence. Each week he would travel to Catawissa for
Sunday Mass and Baptisms. This continued until 1960 when the
administration of St. James was given to St. Bridget's Parish in
Until then, only one
priest was assigned to Pacific but the needs of the parish were
growing. While the load did not warrant two full time priests, a
second priest was sent to assist the pastor, Father John J. Hyland.
The new assistant was Father Hilbert Schmelz. Father Schmelz had
been raised in the Pacific/Catawissa area and had been in business
for years before pursuing his studies for the priesthood and
eventful ordination on April 2, 1960 at 50 years of age.
While Father Schmelz
served in this capacity, Father Highland was replaced as pastor by
Father Leroy J Vineyard in 1962. Other pastors who were assigned as
administrators of St. James while stationed at St. Bridget Church
are as follows:
Father Grover Bell
Father John P. Abels
Father George F. Mayer 1980-1982
As associate pastors,
the following priests served the two parishes:
Father Hilbert Schmelz
Father Robert Heimos
Father Donald Molitor
Father Gerald Brennell
Father Joseph Ross
Throughout the years, Sunday Mass was said weekly at 9:00 am at St.
James. There were also weekly Tuesday evening Perpetual Help
devotions and occasional meetings, such as the Ladies Altar Society.
This dedicated group
of ladies have conducted monthly meetings for years in the parish
hall or rectory. They have made it their concern to clean the church
and for years they paid the gas bill to heat the church and hall.
For the majority of
years while without a pastor, there were no weddings or funerals
held at St. James Church. Instead, they were performed at St.
Bridget Church in Pacific.
to the Present
During the period of no resident pastor, the parish family continued
to stay together. There were few activities arranged on a parish
level besides the parish picnic that was re-started in 1976 on an
annual basis. However, Sunday after Sunday, the people continued to
attend the morning Mass.
In 1981, in response
tot he wishes of Father Walter Boul for a smaller parish, Archbishop
John L. May assigned him as pastor of St. James. A
priest of the Archdiocese ordained in 1941, Father Boul had just
completed twenty-seven years as pastor of St. Williams's Church in
Woodson Terrace of North St. Louis County.
Upon receiving word that a
resident pastor was coming, the parishioners began renovating the
parish house in preparation for the priest's arrival. Work on both
the exterior and interior was done, as well as installing an air
Since Father Boul has begun
his pastorate, the parish has pulled together with a renewed vigor.
A parish council has been formed according to the Archdiocese
guidelines. Numerous families have been added to the parish roster
and two weekend masses are scheduled at 5:30 pm on Saturday evening
and 9:00 am Sunday morning besides the 8:00 am daily celebration.
Improvements to the parish
plant have also been made recently. The church received a new roof
and carpeting. An addition of sixty plots was made to the cemetery
while a new fence was constructed to protect the final resting place
of the faithful. The parish hall was expanded to provide a larger
kitchen which has already proven useful for picnics and receptions.
Brush was cleared from a grove of trees for a picnic area and plans
are underway for a backstop and baseball diamond.
An important part of the
history of St. James Parish has been the dedication of the
parishioners to the Church. Started by determined people who felt
the need for a church in their town, they received no official
encouragement until the funds were raised. As a parish family, they
have suffered on many occasions, from local crop failures to world
wide depressions. For one-half of their existence as a parish they
struggled without a pastor in residence. Throughout the years, the
constant desire for a Catholic church in Catawissa has kept the
people coming and working for it's success.
Since this book was
printed, Father Boul retired in 1988. Father Boul was replace in
1989 with Father Donald Murphy. Father Murphy passed away in 1993.
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. Father Coerver and
Father Mannion were reassigned in 2003.
Father Mark S. Bozada was assigned to St. James and St. Mary's in
June of 2003 along with Deacon Harvey Dubbs.
In 2008, Deacon Dubbs was assigned to St. Clare Parish in St. Clair,
In June of 2012, Fr. Mark Bozada was given St. Bridget's parish and
school in Pacific, MO along with St. James and St. Mary's but was
given help with the three parishes. Fr. Rodger Fleming was assigned
to join Fr. Mark with the three parishes as associate pastor along
with Deacon Dr. Michael Suden.
In June of 2013, Fr. Mark Bozada was
to return to only St. James and St. Mary's parishes while St.
Bridget's had a new pastor. Fr. Fleming was transferred to St. James
in Potosi and Deacon Mike was reassigned to only St. Bridget's. In
the advent of the same year St. James and St. Mary's welcomed a new
Deacon to assist with Fr. Mark. Deacon Carl Germain was assigned to
both parishes but wouldn't receive in holy orders until the
following year in May.