The History of Our Three Parishes

The histories of our parishes tell the story of our thriving parishes as we know them today. A brief historical account of each of our parishes is below. For further historical information please reference our Tri-Parish Directory or contact our Central office for further information.

Mary, Help of Christians

In 1850, 40 acres were donated to the Bishop of Vincennes for the purpose of a church and town. In 1852, 58 members signed a subscription list to build a log church or frame church. The first mass was celebrated on December 8, 1857 on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Father Ulrich named the church in honor of the feast day, Maria Hilf (Mary Help).

In petitioning for the town to have a post office a clerk at Washington named the town Mariah Hill on June 19, 1862. By 1865 the community had outgrown the church and so on the Feast of Mary, Help of Christians (May 24) the first cornerstone was laid for the new church.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's various improvements were made including a school house, a home for the nuns, expansion of the church, addition of a slate roof, stained glass windows, and a new organ.

From the 1940's to 1970's a parish hall was built, an expansion of the rectory, construction of the Fatima shrine, renovation of the church's interior to sandstone, and the school was closed.

In 1992 a new parish center was built which included classrooms. In 2007 the parish celebrated its 150th jubilee by remodeling the church and shoring up the foundation.

Saint Joseph Catholic Church

On June 3, 1909 the cornerstone of St. Joseph Church in Dale, Indiana, was laid. On February 11, 1917 Father Chrysostom Coons, O.S.B received the appointment of pastor of St. Joseph Church and quickly began planning for a school. Soon after they purchased property and a school was built.

In the 1960’s several improvements were made as the town and surrounding community grew. In 1970 David Turnham Educational Center was opened and the parish decided to discontinue its parochial school.

In 1996 St. Joseph dedicated a new Parish Center to better serve their growing parish needs and to reach out to serve their neighbors and community as well.

In the early 2000's the parish embarked on a large church building project which entailed the addition of Transcepts to each side of the sancutary, a Narthex on the front of the church, and conversion of the rectory into office spaces for administrative purposes. The dedication for the renovation was held on June 8, 2003.

Saint Nicholas Catholic Church

In the late 1960’s liturgies were celebrated at Lincoln State Park. This served both campers and local people. This was followed by liturgies being held in the Chapel at Lincoln Boyhood National Monument.

In the 1970’s the Catholics of St. Nicholas worshiped in the St. Paul Evangelical Church in Santa Claus. Later, and until 1996 a small building that had served as a toyshop many years before was used as a gathering place to worship for St. Nicholas parishioners.

On December 6, 1991 Bishop Gettelfinger canonically established St. Nicholas as a parish with its own boundaries within the Jasper Deanery.

In September of 1992 William and Patricia Koch deeded a 6.4-acre plot fronting Highway 245 North to the Diocese of Evansville. This was for the sole purpose of building St. Nicholas Catholic Church and later, a cemetery.

In May 1993 the “St. Nicholas BUILDS!” three-year pledge drive was initiated with the goal of raising $750,000 to finance the project with its total cost of $1.132 million. In May 1995 ground was broken for the building of St. Nicholas Catholic Church. On December 8, 1996 St. Nicholas Catholic Church was blessed and dedicated by The Most Reverend Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger.