St. Ambrose Parish, Chaffee, MO, Founded 1907

St. Ambrose Church, Chaffee, MO (circa 2010)
St. Ambrose Church, Chaffee, MO (circa 2010)

General parish info

Contact info
Pastor: Fr. Randolph G. Tochtrop
Secretary: Judi Eaker
DRE: Diane Eftink
Principal St. Ambrose School: Laura Enderle (see ‘Parish related’ tab)

Phone: (573) 887-3953 — Fax: (573) 887-3953
Mailing address: St. Ambrose Church, 418 S 3rd St., Chaffee, MO 63740-1415

Weekend Mass times

8 a.m.
4 p.m.

Daily Mass Times

Monday & Friday
8 a.m.

Holy days
8 a.m. & 6 p.m.


3:30 p.m.

7:30 a.m.

Office hours

Monday, Thursday – Friday
8 – 11 a.m.

Updated: 10-04-17



The city of Chaffee, MO, was founded in 1905. A few staunch Catholics were among the first settlers. In 1906 they petitioned Archbishop Glennon of St. Louis for a resident priest. On the feast of the Holy Family in 1907, Fr. Frank Feeley, CM, celebrated Mass for the first time in Byrds Hall, the only place large enough to substitute for a church. After that, Vincentian priests traveled on horseback once a month from Cape Girardeau to care for the spiritual needs of the Catholics in Chaffee.

In the summer of 1907, Archbishop Glennon appointed Fr. Anthony H. Rohling first resident pastor. Since there was neither a church nor a rectory, the pastor volunteered his services as spiritual director for the hospital sisters in Cape Girardeau. To compensate, the sisters provided room and board.

The building of St. Ambrose Church materialized in November 1907. Mass was celebrated in the new frame building on Jan. 1, 1908.

Succeeding Fr. Rohling as pastor, Fr. Michael J. Clooney established St. Ambrose School. It was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy of St. Louis through 1971.


The success of the school antagonized the Ku Klux Klan. Fr. John J. Lonnergan, pastor at that time, seized every opportunity to counteract the effects of the Klan. He was so courageous and convincing during his attempts to inject Christian principles into public life that the Klan’s most ardent advocates severed their connections and the organization disbanded.

The church was destroyed by fire on April 12, 1942. Within a war and postwar period, the best that could be done was to convert the school basement into a temporary church. Twelve years later, in 1953, Archbishop Joseph Ritter granted permission for the building of a new church, which was completed on May 30, 1954, and dedicated on July 4, 1954.

On June 19, 1983, ground was broken for the construction of a new school and parish center. The school was completed on Sept. 6, 1983. Construction of an addition to the school to house a classroom and new library was completed in 2000.

Priests served

Craig, Fr. Walter G. J., Jan 11, 1936 – Nov 30, 1948
Geraghty, Fr. Thomas, Dec 18, 1948 – May 16, 1966
Bucher, Msgr. Philip A., May 17, 1966 – Aug 16, 1966
Holmes, Fr. James, Aug 17, 1966 – Sep 14, 1975
Kunkel, Fr. Raymond W., Sep 15, 1975 – Aug 18, 1986
Reynolds, Fr. James L., Aug 19, 1986 – Aug 16, 1990
Cantore, Fr. John A., CM, D, 1990 – 1991
Saunders, Fr. Allan L., Aug 19, 1991 – Aug 17, 1998
Duffner, Fr. Ralph J., Aug 18, 1998 – Aug 14, 2000; Administrator, Aug 15, 2000 –
Tochtrop, Fr. Randolph G., Jul 1, 2009 –

Above is compiled from diocesan archives.
“D” designates information compiled from The Catholic Directory or Year Book.

Parish related

GPS coordinates: N37° 10.705’, W089° 39.667’ (click here for map)


St. Ambrose School
419 S. Third St., Chaffeed, MO 63740-1414

Principal: Laura Enderle,

Phone: (573) 887-6711, Fax: (573) 887-6711
Web site:

Attended from: Guardian Angel Parish, PO Box 158, 604 Church St., Oran MO  63771-0158

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