Our Lady Parish

Our History

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In 1956, a committee from the St. Louis Archdiocese became aware that Sacred Heart Parish in Crystal City would need assistance in serving the people of both Festus and Crystal City. Therefore, a tract of land was purchased for a new church to be called the Church of Our Lady.

Rev. Charles Huelster was appointed as the first pastor, and, on November 12, 1956, ground was broken for a building that would include a church, six classrooms, kitchen, and a temporary convent. During construction, the newly formed parish of roughly two-hundred sixty-five families celebrated Mass in the rectory basement at 501 Edgewood Lane (prior to this, Mass was held for a brief period at the American Legion Hall). The residence at the Edgewood address was used only until a small farmhouse that was purchased with the property could be renovated for a rectory. 

On February 28, 1958, classes began at Our Lady School. In 1976, four additional classrooms were added onto the school, including kindergarten.

In 1979, the present rectory was built.  The “farmhouse” rectory was torn down, and in its place we how have the Rev. Harold Voelker Meditation Garden. The cross in the center of the garden was made from the timbers of the old rectory.

Under Rev. John Ditenhafer's leadership, our present church building was built, with dedication on October 8, 1989. In 2001, the final payment toward our loan on the new church was repaid to the Archdiocese.

As a result of our Archdiocesan Parish Survey in February 1998, we are looking forward to a future that includes more opportunities for the youth of our parish, ongoing religious education for adults, a greater sense of stewardship among all members, other challenges, and a wonderful growth of faith and spirit among all. In October 1999, to address a need for ongoing religious education and spiritual growth for adults, we took part in the Archdiocesan Renew 2000 program for five sessions during each Spring and Fall, through the Fall of 2001. In the Fall of 2000, we began forming a Youth Ministry Team for students attending 7th grade through High School.

In February 2001, we officially hired Ron Reiter as our part-time Youth Minister to work with other volunteers in planning youth activities. In September 2001, we introduced to the parish the Little Rock Scripture Study program, beginning with a four-week study called "An Introduction to the Bible." In January 2002, the actual study of the Bible began with a ten-week study of the Acts of the Apostles. This will be an ongoing study which will cover the various books of the Bible in the future.

In the late 1990s, as we approached the new millennium, and being aware of the growth in the Festus/Crystal City community and throughout Jefferson County, we realized that our parish school and Parish School of Religion (PSR) would experience the same growth. It became obvious that our existing school building would need additional classrooms. In the Spring of 2001, an addition to our school was begun. In March of 2002, excited students and staff, grades 5 through 8, moved into their new space. This new building included four classrooms, a library, a computer lab, and science/art room. Our PSR Students also benefited from the additional classrooms. Dedication of the addition to our school building was held on April 7, 2002.

From the beginning, our parish family has been richly blessed and challenged. The stewardship of the parish, and the sharing of their time, treasure and talent has been outstanding throughout the history of the parish. We know that we will be able to meet these goals as we continue to work together. We proudly stand on the strong shoulders of the past and look to a bright future full of surprises from our good and gracious God.