History of St. Mary Parish

In 1871 the hearty Catholic pioneers of Albee Township were placed under the care of St. Paul’s Parish of Owosso.  Mass was offered only once a month, in the parlor of a home, just South of McDonaugh Corners (where the Prairie Saloon is located).

In 1890 parishioners built their first church on Birch Run Rd. where the present Cemetery is located.*

Most of the labor was donated, local parish men hauled the lumber long distances with their horses and wagons, and then did their own carpenter work.

They built a sturdy frame building for only $554.

The church contained handmade pews and a few years later a beautiful white altar** was added.  The altar was kept lavishly decorated with flowers from the neighboring gardens.

A hand stoked wood stove provided the heat in the cold winter months.

Many a zealous youngster yearned to ring the church bell with the rope that hung temptingly near the front entrance.

The choir, usually consisted of young parishioners who sang praises to the Lord from the balcony above.

Through the years our church became the mission of several parishes… (including St. Michael in Oakley, and St. Cyril in Bannister).

In the early 1900’s Mass was offered every two weeks by a priest that was usually picked up at the railroad station.

He would then be an overnight guest of the parishioner who provided the transportation.

After serving its faithful for 84 years, our little church could no longer accommodate the growth of its family.

In 1955 our present church was built 1/2 mile to the north on Fergus Rd.***

In 1964 a rectory was built on the same property.****  Three years later our parish received Fr. Bruno Wiczewski***** as it’s first, very own, resident pastor.

In 1967 St. Mary’s was established as an independent parish.

Priests from St. Michaels Maple Grove were our pastors in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

In 1997 the front of the church was removed and new offices, classroom/meeting room area, new restrooms and a large narthex were built and named Miller Hall in remembrance of Dan and Leander Miller whose estate partially funded the renovation.

On July 1, 2013, St. Mary’s Albee merged with Immaculate Conception in St. Charles.

Interesting facts:

*The first burials were of Mrs. Mary White who died in 1900.  The second person buried was Mrs. Hemker Gross (grandmother of Bunny Newman, great grandmother of Ed Hemker and Marcia Westrick).

**The white altar was purchased from St. Michael Parish, of Maple Grove at a cost of $150.  It was brown trimmed in gold at the time.  There was a crucifix on top, that had to be saw offed, because it was too (sic) tall.

***The church is modified Romanesque type and… dedicated by Bishop Woznicki on June 7, 1955.  The total cost was $120,000.

****Mr. Charles Chvatal of St. Charles (formerly an Immaculate Conception parishioner) was the contractor for the $50,000 church.

*****Fr. Bruno was a Polish priest who survived the Nazi concentration camps.  His sermons mentioned standing naked in the snow before he was beaten.