St. Mary’s History

Catholics began to settle in the vicinity of Alexandria, Meridian and Powell as early as 1866.  A missionary priest, Farther, Lechleitner, who was stationed in Crete, began to visit the area in 1873.  He celebrated Mass in the homes of various parishioners as was common at the time.  In 1878, a church was built in honor of Saint Mary.  In 1879, the pastor of Saint Stephen Parish in Lawrence served Saint Mary Parish.  Saint Mary Parish became a mission of Hebron in 1880.  It remained a mission of Hebron until 1887, when it was made a mission of Fairbury.  In 1910, the parish was again a mission of Hebron.  From 1912 to 1988, the pastor resided in Alexandria.  A rectory was built in 1916.  In 1929, a new rick church and rectory were built.  During Father Joseph Mroczkowski’s pastorate, the parish plant was renovated in 1956.  Father Anthony Turek was pastor from 1956 to 1988.  After Father Turek’s death in 1988, Father John Glaves served Saint Mary Parish in Alexandria and Saint Joseph Parish in Gilead while residing in Fairbury.  In 1989, Father Bernard Lorenz was the resident pastor in Alexandria.  In 1990, Saint Joseph in Gilead was closed and Saint Mary became a mission to Saint Michael in Fairbury.  In recent years, Father John Copenhaver, Father William Grant, Fr. Kenneth Hoesing, Fr. Chacko Mathai have served as pastors of the Fairbury and Alexandria parishes.  Fr. John Birkel is currently serving as pastor.

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