Church History

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In April 1893, the first Bishop of Belleville, Bishop Janssen assigned Fr. August J. Sauer to organize a new parish in what was then the west end of Belleville.  On Tuesday, January 16, 1894, the Church was solemnly dedicated under the title of Mary, Our Lady of Good Counsel.  Shortly after the dedication, two bells were donated to St. Mary and blessed by Bishop Jannsen – dedicated to our first mother and our Blessed Mother – Eve and Mary.  A third bell dedicated to St. Charles was donated in 1920.  These would be peeled from a wooden structure in the school yard until the addition of the bell tower to the front of the church in 1938.  Due to years of deferred maintenance during the great depression and the two World Wars, it was necessary to totally renovate the interior of the church in 1956. This remodeling served the parish well until our centennial year, when the church was remodeled to simplify the sanctuary and harmonize it with the post-Vatican II liturgy.  Several small additions were made in subsequent years, including a new tabernacle, additions to the color palette, the mosaic cruciform around the risen Christ statue and a platform for the presider’s chair.

In September 1939, Bishop Althoff appointed Fr. Joseph J. Orlet as pastor of St. Mary.  He would serve the community for 39 years, would later be named a monsignor and would eventually be succeeded as pastor by his nephew, Fr. Raymond Orlet.  Succeeding pastors include Msgr. James Blazine, Msgr. John Myler, Msgr. Bill McGhee and the current Administrator, Fr. Christopher Anyanwu.

A parish school was started in 1894 and once boasted over 900 children enrolled.  Due to dwindling enrollments at both St. Mary and St. Augustine schools, the two were merged in August 2008 at the St. Augustine campus.  In August of 2015, the school again underwent a consolidation with the Cathedral School to form Notre Dame Academy with three campuses.