History of St. Andrew Parish
Even though the first religious organization in Callaway County, Missouri was a Catholic mission of French Canadian settlers at Cote Sans Dessein in 1816, Catholics were a minority in Callaway County during the 1800’s and 1900’s. In 1838 Father Ferdinand Helias celebrated Mass in Hibernia, an Irish settlement in what is now known as Holts Summit. This settlement was comprised of Irish immigrants who worked on the new Capitol when Jefferson City was named the State Capitol. From the early 1900’s, the Holts Summit area was served by St. Peter Parish in Jefferson City, Missouri.
On June 24, 1974, Father John W. Buchanan, pastor of St. Peter Church, Jefferson City, Missouri, under the leadership of Bishop Michael McAuliffe of the Diocese of Jefferson City, sent a letter to 200 families of the Holts Summit area announcing the first Holy Mass at the Fire Station in Holts Summit on June 30, 1974. Father Buchanan ended this letter by stating, “We may encounter insurmountable difficulties, but at least we are going to try.” Father Buchanan named the new parish St. Andrew because Andrew was the brother of St. Peter and the two parishes were to be like brothers to each other.
On June 30, 1974, as storm clouds gathered in the north and slowly moved closer, people began gathering at the Fire Station Building. Due to an oversight, no one present had a key to the building. A table which served as the altar was placed in front of the doors of the station and Father Buchanan celebrated the first Holy Mass for 144 people of the Holts Summit, New Bloomfield, Hartsburg, Tebbetts, Wainwright, and Cedar City areas. Thus with this Mass, St. Andrew Mission Parish became a reality.
Due to the rapid growth of the Mission Parish, Father Buchanan on July 7, 1975, by letter, announced the parish would move to the new Civic Building at Greenway Park in Holts Summit for services.
On May 25, 1975 the Bishop’s representatives met with the parishioners after Sunday Mass and discussed building a new church. Several tracts of land were considered. The tract of land east of the State Highway 54 on Center Street was chosen.
The first meeting of the St. Andrew Church Steering Committee, with members appointed by Father Patrick Daly, was held on May 5, 1976. Father Daly presented the members with the question, “What is Church?” It was decided a church is where people grow in God’s love, a place to worship God with one main goal - “to get to Heaven”. With this thought in mind the Steering Committee began their task of forming the new St. Andrew Mission Parish. On July 6, 1977 the Steering committee was dissolved and the newly elected Parish Council members began fulfilling the leadership role in the parish.
On November 6, 1977 after the Sunday Mass, the people of the parish voted and approved plans for a multi-purpose building to be used as a church. At some later date a more traditional church could be built on the knoll in front of the multi-purpose building, designed with a long corridor connecting the two buildings.
On July 8, 1978 bulldozers broke ground for the construction of the new church building. Parishioners excitedly drove to the site to view the progress and location of their new church. In November of 1979 the St. Andrew Rectory was constructed.
Father Patrick Daly served the Mission Parish from its beginning and on November 5, 1980 was appointed the first Pastor of St. Andrew Parish. He was instrumental in promoting a community-religious-family feeling that is not only obvious at Mass but in the everyday living relationships. In this spirit of growth and development all the parishioners became engaged in forming the new church community.
The first Mass was held at 7:30 p.m. on All Saints Day, November 1, 1979 in the new church. Many gave so generously of their time and talents in the building of the church. Many, many man-hours were donated to defray the cost of the building. Money was saved but the greatest treasure was the community they built among themselves. A church alive with the spirit of community. What greater gift can we give to those who follow after us?
From its beginning St. Andrew Church was without a place for the Blessed Sacrament. With a longing to have the privilege of the Blessed Sacrament in our building the parishioners undertook the task of completing the chapel. It was also to be a surprise for Father Daly, who was on vacation in Ireland.
The first Mass in the Chapel was celebrated by Father Patrick Daly on September 1, 1980 at 7:30 p.m. for the parishioners and guests from outside of the parish who gave of themselves for the Lord. In the quiet atmosphere, surrounded by the fine workmanship created by the people using their talents for the common good, we gave thanks to the Lord. The sanctuary light was lit, a new flame, a home for the Blessed Sacrament which is the spiritual love our Savior for his people.
On July 1, 1987, Father Tom McGrath was assigned to replace Father Daly. Father McGrath unselfishly gave of self in the service of the parish for three years. In July of 1988 he was replaced by Father Greg Higley who continued a strong commitment to community and the sharing of individual talents. Father Fred Elskamp was named pastor in 1991.
Father Patrick Piercall was named Pastor in 1998. During this time parishioners once again felt the need to consider building a new church. In 2000, after much prayer, many meetings and deliberation it was decided it was time to fulfill our dream of building a new Church and a fundraising drive called Building Faith 2000 was begun.
Father Brendan Doyle became Pastor in 2001, providing strong leadership and tireless dedication towards the fulfillment of this dream. A large thermometer measuring our success at raising funds towards the new Church was placed in the multi-purpose building for all to see. Once again, the parishioners of St. Andrew Church gave of their time and talents in so many ways to work towards the completion of a new church, designed to protect the sense of community and sharing that was the foundation of St. Andrew’s from its very beginning.
After years of fundraising and hard work, the first Sunday Mass in the new Church was held on September 7, 2003. The new church was dedicated on October 19, 2003, by Bishop John R. Gaydos.
Father Greg Higley was once again named Pastor in 2005, providing a spiritual leadership uniting us all in a church alive with the spirit of community that has been the legacy of St. Andrew Church.
Parishioners continued giving of their time and talent as well as financially, knowing that St. Andrew’s had a loan with the Diocese of Jefferson City in the amount of $750,000 to pay off. On July 15, 2008 the last payment was made and St. Andrew’s was once again debt free.
On July 1, 2015 Fr. Joe Corel was assigned to Pastor of St. Andrew’s; his first assignment since being Vocational Director for the Diocese of Jefferson City. As pastor, he is looking forward to worshipping with the parishioners and building a community around them, while helping them see Jesus Christ in their daily lives.