St. Mary Parish, Pierce City, MO, Founded 1883
General parish info
Pastor: Fr. Peter J. Morciniec
Secretary: Shelly Wrobleski
RCIA Director: Jane Kutz
Principal, St. Mary School: Judy Harper (see Parish Related tab)
Phone: (417) 476-2827 • Fax: (417) 476-5827
Mailing address: 200 Front St Pierce City, MO 65723-1263
Weekend Mass times
4 p.m. Vigil Mass
Daily Mass Times
Monday – Friday
Mass times vary.
Tuesday – Friday
8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In 1870, Catholic Irish, German, and Polish workers on the Frisco railroad were the driving force in establishing Catholic parishes in and around Pierce City.
Before St. Mary’s Parish was established, all Catholics in Lawrence, Barry, and Newton counties worshipped at St. John’s, later renamed St. Patrick’s, the first Catholic church in Pierce City. As more Irish and German and Polish settlers came to the area, the Germans sought to form a parish of their own. Bishop John Hogan of Kansas City gave them permission to do so. Their first church, St. Mary’s, was a remodeled and enlarged Protestant meeting house. When a fire destroyed the building, it was replaced by a frame building. The Polish immigrants eventually formed a Catholic community in Bricefield (now Pulaskifield) in 1892. The Irish and Germans remained in Pierce City.
Around 1895, the Orphan Trains came through Pierce City. Twenty eight children were placed in homes in the area. Many of the parishioners of St. Mary’s are direct descendants of those children.
The present church building was built in 1910 at a cost of $30,000. It was dedicated on March 11, 1913. The lack of priests caused the closing of St. Patrick’s church in 1954. A mission church begun in 1905, St. Michael’s in Wentworth, was closed in 1966. Catholics who attended the latter two churches are now members of St. Mary’s parish. The present rectory, school, and parish hall were built in 1968, the multipurpose building in 1981.
The elementary school was built in 1889, staffed by the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood from O’Fallon, MO, until 1921. For several years afterward the faculty consisted solely of lay teachers. Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis (Nevada, MO) and later, the Vincentian Sisters (Pittsburgh, PA) staffed the school until 1986 when once again a lay faculty replaced the sisters.
On May 4, 2003, a tornado all but destroyed the town. The church sustained minimal damage in comparison to the condition of the buildings on either side of the main road. St. Mary’s church became a unifying presence as a shelter and a center of operation for FEMA and many other organizations working together to provide help for the tornado victims. Surrounding counties and cities as far away as Chicago helped the tornado victims in whatever way they could. After reconstruction and repairs were made to St. Mary’s, the church was rededicated on March 17, 2004.
There have been dark days for the parishioners of St. Mary’s. However, their faith and fortitude continue to work together to realize a new beginning.
Brady, Msgr. Thomas, 1908 – Dec., 1916
Engeman, Fr. Leander (Administrator then pastor), June 11, 1947 – May 9, 1948; *Pastor, Mar. 28, 1949 – Apr. 7, 1961
Curran, Fr. Wilfred L., Apr. 8, 1961 – Mar. 30, 1969
Wendoloski, Fr. Theodore J., June 18, 1969 – Jan. 5, 1975
Eftink, Msgr. Edward M., Jan. 6, 1975 – July 31, 1977
Rynish, Msgr. John J., Aug. 1, 1977 – July 14, 1979
Clavin, Fr. M. Oliver, July 15, 1979 – Apr. 1, 1984
Chambers, Fr. Leonard R. (Administrator then pastor), Apr. 2, 1984 – Dec. 28, 1984; *Pastor, Dec. 28, 1984 – Aug. 18, 1986
Brath, Fr. John A., Aug. 19, 1986 – Aug. 18, 1991
Bucher, Msgr. Philip A., Aug. 19, 1991 – Aug. 16, 1993
Duffner, Fr. Ralph J., Aug. 17, 1993 – Aug. 16, 1995
Hirtz, Fr. Daniel J., Aug. 17, 1995 – Aug. 17, 1998
Morciniec, Fr. Peter J., Aug. 18, 1998 –
Above is compiled from diocesan archives.
“D” designates information compiled from The Catholic Directory or Year Book.