A Brief History
Historians say that St. Peter’s Parish had its inception in the hope of a French family by the name of Chantelle. The first Mass was celebrated by a missioner believed to be Father Bonocini from the Osage Indian Mission (now St. Paul, Kansas) in the year 1872.
Father Hugh O’ Reilly took the pastorate in 1876. Under the direction of Archbishop Kenrick of St. Louis, Father O’ Reilly started construction of a brick church for the needs of about 20 catholic families. This first Church was built at 8th and Wall street.
In 1905, Father Anthony Clinton was assigned to St. Peter’s. During his pastorate the present church was constructed. The church was dedicated in May 1907.
In 1926, while Father William P. Brophy was pastor, the grade school at 8th and Byers was built. While Father Arthur M. Tighte was pastor, construction of St. Peter’s (now McAuley Regional) High School was completed. Under Father Gervase Ingoldsby, the church was air conditioned.
Father Joseph W. Brophy was appointed pastor in June 1965. Father Joseph Brophy served until 1971 when he was succeeded by Father Palermo, and in August 1972 Father Rochford, our present Pastor was appointed and Father Clavin became the associate pastor.
With these leaders and Msgr. McGrane’s assistance a spirit of progress has come into being.
Most sanctuaries in Catholic churches are set up in this manner:
- The Altar of Sacrifice in the center
- The Ambo where the Word of God is proclaimed on one side of the Altar
- Presidential Chair where the Presiding Priest sits on the other
Also, in a place of prominence, in this church directly behind the Altar of Sacrifice and built into the original High Altar piece is the Tabernacle where the body and blood of Jesus (the Eucharist or Blessed Sacrament) is reserved. You will note the sanctuary lamp burning to the right as you face the sanctuary. In a Catholic church, this candle burns day and night every day, except for Good Friday and Holy Saturday, signifying Jesus’ presence in this sacred space. This parish church opens from about 8 AM until sundown every day so that it allows those to come and pray in the Presence of Jesus.
The Altar and Ambo were crafted in 2013 when the church was renovated. The altar now includes parts of the communion rail which was renovated during the Catholic Revolution. Catholics knelt at the communion rail to receive Jesus. Today those receiving come down the main aisle and stand as they are given the Body of Christ by the minister. This ritual calls our attention to our need to be fortified by the Bread of Life so that we can go forth with resolve to serve.
Though the main altar has not been the Altar of Sacrifice since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), it has been preserved because of its classic beauty. Hand-carved in wood, it was imported from Europe with the church was built. The Blessed Sacrament (Body of Christ) is preserved in the gold tabernacle in the center. It is now our Altar of Redemption.
As you enter the church, you are at the Baptistry: a basin of Holy water with the statue of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. As Christians, we value our baptism and when we enter the church, we dip our right hand into the blessed water and sign ourselves with the Cross of Jesus, a sign that we have accepted the Christian life in all of its dimensions.
Stained Glass Windows
The ten windows to the left and right of the main aisle were part of the original 1907 church. The depictions show scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary as mentioned in the Gospels. This window to your left, shows the Angel Gabriel speaking with Mary at the Annunciation of her motherhood of the Savior. Note the dark portions of the windows, not stained, but painted. It had become damaged over time and an effort to preserve the windows in the 1940’s failed. A local artist was engaged to repaint the windows and refine them to renew their beauty. Above the altar are depictions of the four Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (left to right). If you stand at the head of the main aisle and look to the rear. Above the choir loft, you will see a beautiful rose window.
The Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross are a popular devotion of Catholics, especially in Lent. If you begin on the left (south) wall, you will see statues on the wall that commemorate the stops along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, the path to Calvary that Jesus supposedly followed. Beginning with Jesus, before Pilate being condemned to death, the fourteen “stations” on the south and north walls depict the journey of Jesus to his death on Calvary. In the fourteenth station, near the statue of St. Anthony, on the north side, Jesus is taken from the cross and prepared to be entombed.
Our Lady of Lourdes is depicted in the statue to your left as you face the sanctuary. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appeared to a fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette, in southern France in 1858. She identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception” meaning that she had been given the gift of grace at the time of her conception in her mother’s womb. She instructed Bernadette to tell the world to pray for peace and healing. At the site of her appearance, a spring water generated that continues to flow with healing waters until now.
Near the statue of our Lady of Lourdes is the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Devotion to the Sacred Heart – the loving mercy of Jesus – dating back to the 17th century France, is popular among many Catholics even now.
Relics of St. Philippine Duchesne and St. Pope Pius X are encased below the statue of our Lady of Lourdes. St. Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852) was a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart. She worked in the Louisiana Purchase area as a missionary and came as far west as eastern Kansas where she worked with the Potowatomi Tribe. Known by the children as “Woman Who Prays Always”, they would put leaves on her skirt which remained there undisturbed for hours at a time as she prayed. She is buried in St. Charles, MO.
St. Pope Pius X (1835-1914) served as Pope in the early 20th century. He is best remembered for lowering the age for children to receive communion to 8 years old.
St. Anthony of Padua is shown in the statue near the piano. Traditionally, St. Anthony, a 13th century Franciscan monk, is noted for being a gifted speaker. Many Catholics pray to God through the intercession of St. Anthony for “lost” objects. St. Anthony’s love for the poor is most paramount. You see him holding the child Jesus who is holding a basket of bread, it’s representing the right of poor to receive food from those who can share.