|Most Reverend James V. Johnston Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, will join Reverend Frederick J. Lutz, pastor, and the families of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (St. Mary) Parish, Lamar, to dedicate their new church, a replacement for the historic one destroyed in an arson fire on February 8, 2009. The dedication will take place during the Mass of the Feast of Immaculate Conception of the Bless Virgin Mary celebrated at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010.
Those attending the dedication will enter the church through the main door that will be surrounded by stones salvaged from the original church building. Erected in 1869, the small frame building served as a house of worship for priests from the Diocese of Kansas City who would would travel to Lamar to conduct services until 1904 when Monsignor William A. Keuenhof became the first resident pastor. The original building was home to the Catholics of Barton County for 104 years.
Since the fire, the 90 families of the parish have worked tirelessly to rebuild their church home. The largest single source of support was a $150,000 challenge grant offered by the Catholic Extension Society of Chicago. It required the parish to raise $90,000, anticipating that meeting the challenge would require 6-12 months. But, in just two months, the members of the parish, aided by parishioners and school children from across the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau and by neighboring church communities of other denominations, had accumulated $130,000 in gifts and pledges.
The first parish Mass in the new church will be celebrated on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010, and an open house will be held from 1-3 p.m. that afternoon. St. Mary Church is located at 200 E. 17th St., at the intersection of 17th and Mill streets.