Pray the Rosary

Pastor: Reverend Mark S. Bozada

Parish Office (636) 451-4685
FAX (636) 742-4820
Tues-Thurs. (9am - 3pm)
Closed Monday & Fridays

St. Mary of Perpetual Help
1587 Hwy AM 
Villa Ridge, MO.63089
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St. James
1107 Summit Dr.
Catawissa, MO 63015 
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St. Mary's Mass/Confession Times
Confessions: 4:15 - 4:45pm 
2nd, 4th Saturdays of the Month.
Saturday Mass: 5:00pm -
2nd, 4th Saturdays of the Month.
Sunday Mass: 8:00am
Wednesday & Friday Mass: 8:00am

St. James Mass/Confession Times
Confessions: Saturday 4:15 - 4:45pm - 1st, 3rd & 5th Saturdays of the Month.
Saturday Mass: 5:00pm - 1st, 3rd & 5th Saturdays of the Month.
Sunday Mass: 10:00am
Tuesday & Thursday Mass: 8:00am

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Detailed St. James History

Detailed History

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 Church
1924-1951 Resident Pastors
Parish without a Pastor
1981 to the Present
St. 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 a St.Patrick of Armaughstone 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.


Planning and Construction

      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 some dissention.
     Recounting the 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.HendersonSt. James Catholic Church 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 Galveston, Texas.
     The church was dedicated on September 1, 1913.


St. James as a Mission Church

    Early 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 regiment.
     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 is 1923.


1924 - 1951 Resident Pastors

     In March of 1924, Father Joseph Casey was appointed to Catawissa as pastor of St. James Church and plans were initiated for a rectory. St. James RectoryWhile 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 struggling.
    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 wet weather.
    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 toSt. James Hall 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.


Parish without a Pastor

     The 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 Pacific, Missouri.
     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           1967-1973
Father John P. Abels        1973-1980
Father George F. Mayer  1980-1982
     As associate pastors, the following priests served the two parishes:
Father Hilbert Schmelz      1960-1966
Father Robert Heimos      1966-1970
Father Donald Molitor      1970-1976
Father Gerald Brennell     1976-1977
Father Joseph Ross          1977-1981

     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.


1981 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. AFather Walter Boul 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 conditioning system.
    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, MO.
      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.


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