St. Philip Benizi Mission Church, Viburnum, MO, Founded 1965
St. Philip Benizi Mission Church, Viburnum, MO, June 30, 2019. (Photos by G. Eckl)
*Viburnum’s first priest, Fr. Mark M. Santo, OSM, did not arrive until [May] 1965. At that time he started a mission using a vacant building that was formerly a combination restaurant and filling station. Two years later, the congregation moved to a primitive log cabin to celebrate Mass and hold parish meetings.
In 1968, Fr. Peter Rookey, a Servite priest, volunteered to work in Missouri and was assigned to the missions of Viburnum, Ironton, Ellington, and Lesterville. Fr. Rookey held services for Viburnum’s parishioners in the log cabin while the parish sought diocesan aid in building a church.
In December, 1970, Fr. Rookey and two members of the parish council, Charles Anderson and Clement Fox, brought their case to Bishop Baum who headed the diocese at that time. The bishop’s approval of the building plans was given in June of 1971.
With cash and pledges from the parish, help of he diocese and a chapel grant from EXTENSION the church was completed in November, 1971. It was subsequently dedicated [on Sun., March, 12, 1972].
St. Phillip Benizi the patron of Viburnum’s new church, was a 13th century Servite priest who is considered as important to the order as were [the Servite] founders. He built up the Servites by recruiting for the order in large part of Europe including France, Germany, and Poland.
* Excerpted from EXTENSION Magazine, Sept.1975.
St. Philip Benizi Mission Church is still served from Ste. Marie du Lac Parish in Ironton, MO.
April 5, 2020 (Plam Sunday), Bp. Edward M. Rice would have celebrated the closing Mass. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, the Mass did not take place.