On April 30, 1893 the Rt. Rev. Bishop Fink laid the cornerstone. Although nothing is recorded about the event anytime the bishop shows up there is sure to be a celebration of some note. Three and a half months later on August 11, 1893, the Seneca Courier-Democrat carried this news item: "The immense church structure at St. Benedict is up now to about three feet above the windows, or in other words 32 feet high. It puts on an imposing appearance.
Except for a short time in the 1930's the parish has always been debt free. All large expenditures were paid by assessments.
Since the church was dedicated there have been more than 2000 baptisms and more than 700 marriages in the church. Almost 50 members of the parish have become priests, brothers, or sisters.
In 1993, the parish was successful in receiving funding in the amount of $96,500 from the State of Kansas Heritage Trust Fund Grant to relead the transept windows and install two new exterior windows on the west side of the church.
The heating plant is in a near-by boiler house. The records show that a new heating system was installed in 1895; another completely new system in 1911 cost $3600.
Also in 1991, several new rafters were installed in the steeple.
Any building 100 years old has been painted, shingled and repaired many times. The ferocious Kansas weather with its extremes in temperature, thunderstorms and high winds have relentlessly assailed the structure for the past century.
In 1977, there were many sections of plaster that needed to be repaired and repainted. The ceiling and walls were generally very grimy with dirt.
Satory decorated the church based on the fifteen mysteries of the rosary which are inscribed in Latin around the church.
St. Mary's Church is best described in these quotations from the nomination form in 1980 to the National Register of Historic Places: "The architectural style can be termed 'late Romanesque'; the exterior appears simple but not stark; it is carefully detailed, not overworked
The church cost $40,000 and was paid for upon completion. Another $40,000 was gradually spent to finish the interior. In 1895 a used organ was bought in Atchison.
The Seneca, Kan. newspaper, The Courier-Democrat, Nov. 23, 1989, describes the dedication of the church which took place Nov. 14, 1894.
The first church, built in 1859, was a wood frame building measuring 12 by 25 feet. Having been outgrown, it was replaced in 1864 with a building 18 by 35 feet.
St. Mary’s Parish was established in 1859, some eighteen months before the Kansas Territory entered statehood on January 29, 1861.
The St. Mary’s Church Cemetery Committee developed plans to install new fence along the north, south and east sides. Anyone wishing to donate may provide to Church Secretary Mary Beth Haverkamp or a member of the Committee.
See information about the 150th Anniversary Books.
St. Mary's Parish is pleased to offer professional photographs of the church for purchase.