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History of St. Mary Catholic Church

Construction on St. Mary Catholic Church was started in 1897, with a donation of the land for the church and school from Dick McLish (chairman of the Chickasaw Tribe), and a donation of $1800.00 from Fr. Raphael Ghewey and his sister Mathilda (Belgian friends of then Bishop Meerschaert).

The church was dedicated to Our Lady of Prompt Succor (also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Help) on August 28, 1898. That same day the bishop also dedicated the new St. Agnes Academy for Girls (across E St. to the East of the church), served by the Sisters of Mercy.

The early wooden church building was severely tested in 1906 and again in 1915 by violent storms. Then on September 27, 1915, a gasoline-filled tank car in the nearby Ardmore Rail Yar exploded. This famous disaster blew out several of the stain glass windows of the church, and killed 51 persons in town, injuring another 150, and caused nearly a million dollars in property damage.

Later, in 1950, under the oversight of Fr. Alexander Andrews (a British missionary), the current church building was raised. Fr. Andrews oversaw construction and on December 8, 1951, Bishop McGuinness dedicated the new building under the title of St. Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary. A new school soon followed just to the north of church, and was finally finished in 1966.

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Priests Who Have Served At St. Mary
  • Fr. Francis E. Hall, 1897-1902
  • Fr. P.J. Wiliverding, 1902-1905
  • Fr. James J. Wallrapp, 1905-1929
  • Fr. F.D. McCreedy 1929-1947
  • Fr. James W. Traut 1945
  • Fr. Bart A. Murtaugh 1947-1950
  • Fr. Alexander Andrews 1950-1954
  • Fr. Ramon Carlin 1954-1958
  • Fr. Joseph Kolb 1954-1957
  • Fr. Thomas Cahill 1957-1958
  • Fr. Martin E. Reid 1958-1962
  • Fr. John J. Wade 1958-1960
  • Fr. Herman Schafers 1960-1962
  • Fr. Charles Johnson 1962-1965
  • Fr. Elmer Robnett 1962-1967
  • Fr. Leslie Barton 1965
  • Fr. Joseph Thompson 1965-1966
  • Fr. Paul H. Gallatin 1967-1971
  • Fr. John P. Page 1971-1978
  • Fr. Paul F. Mollan 1978-1985
  • Fr. Michael J. Hanrahan 1985-1990
  • Fr. Ernest A. Flusche 1990-1994
  • Fr. Timothy M. Fuller 1993-1994
  • Fr. John P. Varana 1994-1999
  • Fr. Louis J. Lamb 2000-2001
  • Fr. Juan Manuel Guerrero 1996-2007
  • Fr. Thomas O'Toole 2001-2011
  • Fr. Thomas Dowdell 2011-Present

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