On August 12, 1884, the Reverend Father Hardis
of Liebenthal, came to McCracken to hold the first Catholic service
in this vicinity. This service was held in the home of Charles
McGaughey. From that time on until 1886, services were held in
a rock house one and one-half miles west of where St. Mary's cemetery
is now situated. The house, owned
by T. A. McKittrick, was used as a church and exclusively for
divine services. Father Bitters followed Father Hardis and it
was under his administrration that the first church, a frame building,
was built right on the north side of the cemetery on a five-acre
tract of land donated by Owen McKittrick. This frame church was
later moved to the south part of McCracken and was the home of
A. E. Start. Then came Rev. B. Schroeder, the first resident priest.
Father Schroeder returned to Germany in 1900. On May 24, 1906,
a new stone church, on the original site was dedicated by Bishop
Hennesy of Wichita. On July 7, 1922, work was begun on a new church
in McCracken under the guidance of Reverend Thomas O'Brien. Most
of the stone from the old church was used as the basement and
foundation for the new building which was completed in May 1926.
The frame rectory was moved to McCracken in 1922.
The present church was dedicated May 4, 1926 with Bishop Schwertner
of Wichita officiating. A new brick rectory under the guidance
of Father Russell Simms was completed in 1964. After the St. Mary's
Cathloic Church was closed in 1986, members of the parrish formed
the St. Mary's McCracken Heritage Association in an effort to
preserve the beautiful building. Currently the church is used
for special occasions and services.
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©2002, McCracken Alumni Association
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