HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH
Celebrating Our Catholic Heritage...
Our Past Historical Journey
Prior to 1914, Catholics in Mayetta traveled either on the Rock Island Railroad or by horse drawn conveyances to Hoyt or Holton to attend Mass.
• 1914 - Bishop John Ward urged the people of Holton and Mayetta to build a new church since they had outgrown the one they had. The Catholic residents of Mayetta, who had for some time wanted to build their own church, and on hearing that they were to contribute $5,000 toward the new church in Holton decided to build their own church. Parishioner William Cooney donated the land on which the new church was to be built. By the fall of the year the foundation was in and the cornerstone was laid. Fr. Francis Geinitz, pastor of St. Dominic in Holton and the newly founded St. Francis Xavier in Mayetta, oversaw the construction of the church.
• 1915 - the newly formed parish of St. Francis Xavier had 30 families. Their new frame constructed church was of Roman style and measured 34’ x 70’ and it was built and furnished for the sum total of $10,617.40. The boundaries of the newly established parish would extend north halfway to Holton and south half the distance to Hoyt; east ten miles and west ten miles. On September 26, 21 young people were the first to receive their First Holy Communion in the new church. Three days later on September 29, Bishop Ward presided over the dedication of the new church. Fifteen priests from neighboring parishes attended the ceremony. That same day, Bishop Ward bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation on 53 Catholics. The bishop and priests were later entertained at the home of James Slattery.
• 1918 – A house was purchased for $1,200 and furnished for Fr Geinitz, who moved from Holton to Mayetta to become the first and only resident pastor in the history of St. Francis Xavier Parish. Fr. Geinitz would serve the parishioners of St. Francis Xavier until his retirement in 1936
• 1924 From 1918 to 1924, many of the Catholics from St. Joseph's in Hoyt, a mission of St. Dominic's began to attend St. Francis Xavier. As a result, St. Joseph Church was sold. The proceeds of the sale went to improve St Joseph Cemetery in Hoyt, which to this day still serves the parishioners of St. Francis Xavier.
• 1936 - Upon the retirement of Fr. Geinitz. St. Francis Xavier was made a mission of St. Dominic. Fr. John Ryan, then pastor of St. Dominic was also named pastor of St. Francis Xavier.
• 1958 - During the night of Veteran's Day, November II, 1958, the church caught fire and parishioners stood by helplessly while the fire reduced their church to charcoal. The only thing that survived the fire was the cornerstone. The parishioners immediately obtained use of an old store for Mass and religious education. They also began a building committee to rebuild.
• 1959 - The building committee members - Felix Cooney, Hubert Halloran, James Fitzgerald, Charles Marshall, Francis Slattery, Chris Walker and Anthony Lickteig, pastor • selected the plans of architect Sylvester W. Wendel and Associates of Kansas City, Kansas, and in the early spring general contractor George Senne and Company was hired to construct the new church.
• 1960 - The new church, built on the same site as the old, measured 40’ x 80' and with furnishings would cost $70,000. Archbishop Edward J. Hunkeler presided over the dedication ceremony of the new church on June 26. 1960. Following the dedication ceremonies the archbishop offered a Solemn Pontifical Mass.
• 1985-87 - Early in 1987, a building committee was convened to consider the feasibility of building a parish hall. Later that year the committee chose general contractor Dan Heinen to erect the new building that would connect to the southwest comer of the church. On a snowy Sunday morning, November 29, groundbreaking ceremonies commenced the construction of St. Francis Xavier hall and Parish Center. Shortly after Father Hasenkamp’s assignment as pastor we began work on remodeling the altar area. The “wooden curtain” surrounding the sides and back of the altar were removed, almost doubling the size of the altar.
• 1987 - On March 29, council 9535 of the Knights of Columbus was chartered at St. Francis Xavier.
• 1988 - On October 9, Archbishop Ignatius Strecker presided over the dedication ceremony with Fr. Robert Hasenkamp, pastor for the new St. Francis Xavier Hall and Parish Center. The new two-level structure measured 52' x 132'. The upper (first floor) level provided an office, restrooms, storage area, kitchen and hall. The lower (ground) level provided 12 classrooms for Religious Education with restrooms and additional storage area. During the eleven months of construction the dedicated and faith filled parishioners of St. Francis Xavier donated more than just money. It is estimated that 10,000 hours of labor were also donated by the parishioners to complete the project.
• 2007 - During Father Halvorson’s pastorate St. Francis Xavier had all new windows installed in the church; the two on either side of the crucifix and along the east and west walls. Those on the north are in a sunburst design while the others have the symbols of the four gospel writers and sacraments of the church.
• 2009 - Our Lord was restored to his rightful place! The tabernacle was placed in the center of the altar area.
• 2013: A new organ –an Ahlborn-Galanti – was donated by a parishioner. A great gift, as our 40 year old – plus Hammond, was beyond repair.
• 2015: On October 4 St. Francis Xavier Church celebrated its 100 yr. anniversary. Archbishop Joseph Naumann celebrated mass, blessed our Memorial to the Unborn, and joined all parishioners – present and former – for dinner in the hall.