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A Parish’s Journey: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Kansas St. James Catholic Church

January 23, 2024

The small rural town of Kansas, Ohio was home to St. James Catholic Church for over 100 years. Established in 1889 as a mission parish of the larger St. Mary’s Church in Millersville, St. James came into being thanks to the efforts of dedicated families in the community.

Nearly 20 Catholic families petitioned the Bishop of Cleveland in 1889, requesting a new church be built in Kansas. Their request was approved, and the first cornerstone of St. James Catholic Church was laid on September 1, 1889. The modest wood-frame building was constructed through donations and voluntary labor from parishioners. It was named St. James the Lesser and dedicated on June 8, 1890.

Over the next century, St. James grew into a thriving parish and vital part of the Kansas community. Generations of families were baptized, confirmed, married, and laid to rest within its walls. St. James celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 17, 1990 with a special mass led by Bishop James Hoffman.

In 2005, St. James faced an abrupt and painful change. Despite its continued growth and activity within the community, the church was selected for closure by the Toledo Diocese and Bishop Leonard Paul Blair. Parishioners organized prayer vigils and filed legal briefs asserting their ownership rights, but were unable to stop the order. The final mass in that building was held on June 26, 2005, ending 115 years of history.

Being locked out of their spiritual home did not dampen the spirits of the St. James community. Parishioners persisted in holding weekly prayer services in front of the shuttered church and fighting legal battles to save the parish. But after years of disputes, courts ruled the diocese had the right to close parishes. The original St. James church was demolished.

Though stripped of their place of worship, the parish lives on. Since 2012, the St. James community has gathered for weekly services at their new home 7 miles outside of Kansas, near Fostoria. Our journey shows how faith and perseverance can overcome even difficult challenges.

The spirit of St. James endures thanks to dedicated parishioners who carry its rich history forward.

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Welcome to Kansas St. James

February 26, 2024

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