HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Mary, Mother of the Church is the title that was given to our Blessed Mother by the Second Vatican Council to express our unique relationship with her. She is the mother of God become flesh in Jesus and therefore she is our mother and the mother of the Church.
Our parish was given this beautiful title and canonically established by Archbishop John Joseph Cardinal Carberry on June 10, 1971. He invited the Redemptorist Fathers of the St. Louis Province, primarily a missionary order, to staff the new parish. Father Edward Nugent was appointed pastor and Father Charles (Chuck) Beierwaltes was named associate pastor by the provincial superior, Father Daniel Lowery. To these two “founding fathers” must go the credit for building into Mary Mother parish a wonderful spirit of warmth, friendliness and community support.
Washington School, formerly at the corner of Butler Hill and Kerth Road, was the first gathering place for the pioneer parishioners. The first Sunday Mass was celebrated there on July 31, 1971. In August 1971, a religious census was taken within the parish by several of the Redemptorist seminarians.
A residence at 5801 Kerth Road had been purchased for use as a parish house. Weekday Mass was offered there until December 22, 1973, the date on which the first Mass was offered in the beautiful new church well situated on a hill just south of the parish house. This property had been purchased from Charles and Henrietta Moll in 1967 by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, with the understanding that a church would be built upon it.
In those early years new subdivisions sprang up rapidly in the parish boundaries and growth was rapid. A parish school of religion was soon underway to accommodate the children of the parish.
Before the Church facility was ready for use, the parish priests continued to celebrate Sunday Mass at Washington School while daily Mass was offered in the parish house. Home Masses were also prevalent during this time, especially on Holy Days. This gave the priests the opportunity to know their parishioners, to identify leaders and, most importantly, to build a relationship between them and their parishioners. From the beginning the parishioners were charged with developing a collective spirituality. Not only would it be important for each parishioner to reach a closer personal union with God, but it would be vital for the parish as a whole to grow as a family in union with God.
The parish council system came to be a very important part in this plan. The council was given the responsibility of praying together, learning the collegial process, and developing themselves into a model community, a microcosm of the parish family. From this experience the parish was able to develop the official guidelines for parish councils now used through the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
This newly convened group used time well. They accepted the challenge presented them, developed a real sense of community and family, and began to radiate to others the life they experienced together. Immediately the liturgy was a community experience and the people became a family. This theology of parish as community, of spirituality, and of prayer became known among people in the surrounding areas. Many began to talk about the new parish in South County with special Sunday celebrations where everyone was so friendly.
Many visitors at Mass on weekends commented on the spirit of warmth and friendliness that seemed to prevail, and the wholehearted participation of the assembly in the well prepared liturgies, aided by two well-trained choirs, plus the children's choir, "The Son Shine Singers." From the start it was the conviction of the Redemptorists that a well celebrated liturgy must be the heart of parish growth. Our Liturgy Commission carefully plans the ordinary Masses as well as the liturgies for special occasions during the year.
In 1980, Rev. Edmond J. Fitzgibbon prepared a paper entitled "The Parish Project" for the National Council of Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization Committee on Evangelization. In his paper, Fr. Fitzgibbon stated, "Mary, Mother of the Church is a parish family which wants very much to share their faith in every possible way. The parish community has reached the point of believing, as a community, that Jesus Christ has made a difference in their lives and collectively they wish to reflect and celebrate this difference." (click the Read More button to see the rest of our history)