Immaculate Conception in St. Mary, MO closes its doors after 144 years

some of the items collected will go to neighboring churches like Sacred Heart in Ozora, Mo.  (Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS)
some of the items collected will go to neighboring churches like Sacred Heart in Ozora, Mo.  (Source: Mike Mohundro, KFVS)

ST. MARY, MO (KFVS) - The Immaculate Conception Church in St. Mary, Missouri that was founded in 1874 has officially closed their doors. 

The church sits on top a hill overlooking lower St. Mary along with the Mississippi River and parts of Illinois.

The church held their last mass on Sunday, April 16 with Archdiocese of St. Louis Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso.

On Tuesday, Archdiocese members were at the church gathering records and taking an inventory of items that will be taken out and stored or to be used at other locations. 

"We're also here to collect the sacramental records," Archdiocese of St. Louis Father Nick Smith said. "All the baptisms, the funerals, and marriages that have taken place over however many years the parish was in existence. That's the living, breathing record of the church."

Martha Schwent, a resident that has been attending church services for over 50 years. She is a long supporter and church leader there that has been involved in many decisions over the years. 

She said it's sad to see the doors close but said that it had to happen. She was thankful for one final service though. 

"It was sad but it was joyful that we did have a closing," Schwent said. "It wasn't that we just had to walk out of here and not have a closing."

She said after the final mass they had a meeting to talk about what they will do with the property and some of the contents inside. 

"It was sad again," Schwent said. "Very sad knowing that was probably our last meeting inside our hall. After reading over it and a couple days, it took a couple days to really accept what they're doing."

She now had the hard decision of figuring out what church to go to now that she won't be able to continue at Immaculate Conception. 

"We're going to Ste. Genevieve," Schwent added. "We know, with our children going to school up there, we know a lot of the parishioners."

Archdiocese of St. Louis Gabe Jones said there was a number of factors why it was decided to close the church. 

Jones said the pastor was retiring, the age of the building was a contributing factor, upkeep of the building and a shrinking congregation. Those were all factors why they felt it was time to close. 

Smith said some of the items collected will go to neighboring churches like Sacred Heart in Ozora, Mo. 

"Sacred Heart in Ozora, the pastor there will come up and see if there's items that he might be able to use," Smith said. "It will be transferred from here to Sacred Heart. For those items that won't be transferred there then we will then take these items, safeguard them and protect them."

Overall, many here say this is a sad day. "Changes aren't easy," Schwent said. "It's time to move on."

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