Church History

St. Patrick's of Armagh was established in 1843, by Most Rev. P. R. Kenrick. The first pastor was Rev. P. Donnely. The walls of the church were built of hewn logs, and it was covered with a clapboard roof. erected on the right bank of the Meramec River, near what was known as Priest Ford. The property belong to the Archbishop (Peter R. Kenrick), which was afterwards sold to Mr. John Whelan.

In 1852 Father Grace came here - took charge of the Parish and commenced to build a rock church on the property donated by Wm. Patrick McBriarty(current location). He also built a pastorial residence but did not complete it. Father Grace died in 1959, and is now at rest beneath the floor of the current St. Patrick's Church.

Father Berry came in 1864 - built up the church, which was left unfinished by Father Grace. He had completed it, leaving nothing undone.

This is the gate to the Withington Cemetery which was the location of the first St. Patrick's of Armagh Church

St. Patrick's Church as it is today. 
Originally built in 1853 
Burned down April 1, 1885
Rebuilt and reopened Easter Sunday 1886
Closed 1929
Side view of church during the repair of the windows (2010)

(You can see the change in rock/construction at the windows baseline.)

St. Patrick's Church, Catawissa, Missouri - known by residents of the area as the "Old Rock Church" is constructed of Missouri limestone or sandstone and based on a seven foot pyramid rock foundation. The stones used for the first few feet of the church walls were placed by "dry mortar," in which each stone was carefully fitted into another without the aid of adhesive material. The remainder of the wall were completed with the aid of traditional wet mortar, but were also carefully worked. As the church was constructed in two different stages, it is supposed that the dry mortar method was used in the first foundation and the quicker wet mortar method was used to finish the walls. All stones were quarried by hand near the church.
Interior measurements of the church are 44 ft. by 88 ft.

To explain the two stages above, during the early stage of construction, The Civil War broke out, most of the scaffolding was torn down. It has been told that a local family was held hostage in the church. After the war, the church was finished, being the second stage of construction.

The church was completed in 1866.

On April 1, 1885 the pastoral residence burnt down along with the roof of the church, organ, gallery, pews, in fact all the wood work leaving nothing but the rock walls standing, somewhat damaged by the fire.

"It was a sad sight to behold on the following Easter Sunday ~ House gone, Church gone ~ the gatherings of 20 years gone in flames & smoke sorrow pictured on every face ~ Oh! What shall we do?"(Father Berry wrote)

Failure of the wheat crops left the farmers almost hopeless - still where there is a will there is a way - In the name of God they started again - and in three months a better house replaced the old one, all paid for. Then they commenced the church so as to have it covered in before winter and save the walls which were more or less injured by the fire. Their success seceded their expectations and on the following Easter Sunday they had mass once again in the church and what was best of all, "All the work paid for!"

Copyright 2012 - St. Patrick's Preservation Society