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The History of St. Mary Church, Carson City, MI

On February 8, 1896, St. Mary-Our Lady of Help Parish celebrated their first mass in the Old Rink at the corner of Main and Second Street. Mass was offered above  what was the Lockers until a church was built. Some of the Irish families from Hubbardston had moved to Carson City--James Kavanagh (1882), William O'Connell (1883), and Richard O'Connor (1884). On July 11, 1896 the cornerstone of the present St. Mary Church was laid by its first pastor, Kyran J. Whalen. On Christmas day of 1896, Fr. Whalen celebrated mass in a new St. Mary Church. His servers were William Grace and Howard Montgomery. Kyran Beahan was the first baby to be baptized in the new church and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Kavanagh (Margaret Barrett) were the first couple to be married in the new church. Early members of the parish included the Egans, Arthur and Robert Montgomery, Richard O'Connell, William Grace, James Kavanagh, Mike O'Connell, the Mooneys, the Barretts, teh McGraws, Joe Donahue, and several others. St. Mary Rectory was completed in 1898. In the year 1906-1907, St. Mary's Academy, under the direction of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was added to the growing parish complex.

Sr. Mary Berchmans was in charge assisted by Sr. Mary Tearentia. In 1906, a clock was placed in the tower of St. Mary's Church by the citizens of the town with the only automatic angelus connection in the state of Michigan at the time. The first graduation class of St. Mary's High School was in 1911. They were Mary Dickenson, Marguerita Handlon, Helen Handlon, and Richard McCrackin (The High School was closed in 1964.) In 1948, Dennis and Catherine O'Connell gave the church a new organ. The Parish Hall was completed in 1951. In 1950, Mr. John Mooney bought a house and a lot on North Division and gave it to the parish for a convent. St. Mary's Grade School closed in June of 1967. The school was torn down soon after it closed. It had educated the children of the parish for 60 years. Under the direction of Sr. Eileen and Sr. Rose Patrice, a new program of total Religious Education was begun in September of 1967. During 2001-2002, the convent was sold and a new classroom/office area was added to the Hall. Presently, St. Mary Parish has about 225 households registered and has continued to grow and share the Catholic faith in Carson City.

A debt of gratitude is given to the priests who have served the parish since 1896. They are: Fr. Kyran J. Whalen (1896-1914); Fr. John J. Sheehan (1914-1920); Fr. P.A. O'Toole (1920-1924); Fr. Leo A. Whalen (1942-1953); Fr. Eugene Fox- Administrator (1953-1954); Fr. Ralph Kelly (1954-1966); Fr. C.J. Zawacki (1966-1968); Msgr. Russell W. Passeno (January 1969-February 1976); Fr. Pat Cawley (February 1976-July 1976); Fr. Anthony C. Bourdow (1976-1977); Fr. Paul Johnson (1977-1985); Fr. William J. Reitz (1985-2004). They are remembered for the lives that they touched and the sacraments that they administered.

Presently, the parish is served by Nancy Woodcock, Pastoral Director, under the Canonical Supervision of Msgr. William H. Duncan, Vicar General for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Sacramental Ministers provide the weekend Eucharistic Celebrations and sacraments. As the People of God, we journey forth to share our faith and hand it on to future generations.


Graduates of St. Mary School: