The first St. Patrick’s Church is the Historic Cemetery Church on “O” Road, Laurie, MO.
The history of St. Patrick’s Church dates back to 1822 when a group of seven Osage Indian Chieftains rode into Florissant, Missouri to the home of Bishop Louis W.V. DuBourg S.S. of the Louisiana Territory and the Floridas, to request a missionary to visit and minister to their people living in various villages along the waters of the now-named Osage River.
Father Charles de La Croix, a Belgian Jesuit missionary was the first priest sent to the Osage nation. He came by horseback, boat and canoe or on foot on a more or less regular basis. Trappers and traders, who were drawn by mining prospects or the fur and timber trade, would come into the village for the month long celebration when the priest would arrive.
In 1850, Thomas Fitzpatrick settled in the cool green stillness of the Ozarks, near Laurie, which reminded him of his homeland of Ireland. He returned to Ireland to get his wife and talked his neighbors into joining him in the new promised land. In 1863 plans for a church were formulated. Patrick Johnson donated 3.38 acres for the church and cemetery and work began in 1868.
St. Patrick’s Church was built by Irish Catholics, a first generation German-American and a Protestant Scotsman. Stone was quarried on the Johnson farm and a kiln was erected to burn limestone necessary for the mortar. Johnson hewed out the pieces of stone and his brother smoothed the rough edges. The stone was hauled to the site, about one-half mile, on a “lizard” (trunk of a tree with two forks across to form a platform), by two old plodding oxen. The roof was made of rough shingles split from straight-grained oak trees. The floor was solid earth and the seats were “puncheon” (logs split in half with the face hewed smooth and pegs to serve as legs). The church was designed to hold 80 people and was ready for worship by 1870.
In 1883, the church was dedicated by Father Cosmos Sieberger, then pastor of St. Elizabeth. For this occasion a temporary floor was laid and long boards were laid across the seats to serve as pews. The cross on the steeple was hand hewn of imported stone given to the church by the Osage Iron works. In 1920, after many storms, the cross fell and broke into pieces.
The puncheon seats were replaced in 1907 with seats given by St. James Church in Kansas City, MO. This gift was arranged by Father John Keyes, who was born near the old church, baptized, and said his first solemn Mass there. He was the grandson of one of the original builders.
As the congregation outgrew the little church, windows would be opened so people outside could participate in the Mass. During those years the church underwent many changes transforming it into a beautiful little church.
The small living quarters were added to the old church in 1936 for the circuit riding priest. These quarters have been turned into a museum that contains many of the vestments, photos and artifacts of the early church.
The last regular church service was held at this Historic Old Church July 20, 1952. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites, March 2, 1979.
In 1997, the church was on the verge of destruction with plaster falling, etc. The Knights of Columbus, Mary, Mother of the Church Council #10381 restored the old church to its former splendor. Pews were stripped and refinished, a new ceiling was installed, windows were reframed and glazed, and the exterior was tuck-pointed. While replastering the walls, 12-inch crown molding was discovered under the falling plaster as was beautiful stenciling that was recreated and painted. One of the knights repaired the altar was repaired by duplicating the existing design in the wood.
The total restoration project took two and one half years and over 1600 man-hours for which the K of C Council received the International Service Program Church Activities Award.
Historic St. Patrick’s Church is the oldest church in Morgan County and the oldest stone church in the three counties surrounding the Lake of the Ozarks.
The second St. Patrick’s Church was built in Gravois Mills in 1952 since the population had shifted to that area. The large brick building standing on top of the hill served the parish for 30 years, having been added onto once during that time span.
The third St. Patrick’s Church was built in 1980, in Laurie. This church was named the Shrine of St. Patrick because of its size and to distinguish it from the first historic church, which was still used upon occasion since the cemetery is located there. It features stained glass Stations of the Cross. A Prayer Path offers visitors a chance to meditate on the last 12 hours of Christ’s life at the outdoor Stations of the Cross. These Stations are more than 100 years old and are sealed in wooden frames. The Avenue of the Flags consists of flags of different countries that have been donated by parishioners in honor of their heritage or by visitors to the Shrine.
By the mid 1980s the summer crowds were again overflowing the church. Instead of adding on to this church, Father Fred J. Barnett, pastor, decided to build a little outdoor grotto to Mary, where Mass could be celebrated to handle the summer crowds. The little grotto grew into a shrine and was dedicated in 1988 as Mary, Mother of the Church. The Mothers’ Wall of Life was added in 1999 as a tribute to motherhood and family life, where names of mothers are engraved in the polished black granite, regardless of race, color or creed, living or deceased.
In 2003, it became the National Shrine of Mary, Mother of the Church.Thousands of visitors come to the National Shrine, located next to St. Patrick’s Church, every year to stroll the grounds amid the serene setting of fountains, a waterfall, ponds, carillon bells and music, and thousands of flowers.
St Patrick Catholic Church
176 Marian Dr
PO Box 1098
Laurie, MO 65038
Phone: (573) 374-7855
Fax: (573) 374-0627