History of the Catholic Church in Genesee

In 1889, the Catholics of Genesee decided to build a church. Lots in the west addition of town were deeded by a local judge for the construction of churches and schools for the Catholics and German Lutherans. Work on the church began in June, when parishioners built the foundation themselves in order to save money. The actual building began in August. By April of 1890, the church was completed both inside and out. The church was dedicated in honor of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop A.J. Glorieux on July 13, 1890.

A cemetery was purchased in 1890 or 1891. The first pastor was Fr. Hartleib, who was stationed in Moscow. It was not until 1893 that the parish had a resident priest, Rev. J.J. Burri. Also in 1893, the church bells were installed. There were three of them, and their chiming was one way the residents of the town kept track of the time. The largest bell survived the 1961 fire and is positioned on the parking lot in front of the current church, dedicated to the pioneers of the parish. It was produced by the McShane Bell Foundry of Baltimore. The Altar Society is thought to have been formed in 1893.

In 1896, the Benedictines opened a school at St. Mary's. Classes met in the church until 1900, when a school was built. Rev. Remi Keyzer, who was pastor from 1898 to 1907, was instrumental in its building. The parishioners made the bricks for the school themselves and sold the unusable ones to buy lumber and other items needed for the building. The school was dedicated to St. Joseph in 1900 by Bishop A.J. Glorieux.

In 1960, Fr. B.C. McCarthy was appointed pastor of St. Mary's. On September 30, 1961, a fast-moving blaze destroyed the seventy-one year old church. The structure was leveled in under two hours. The large pipe organ, side altars, stations of the cross, and stained glass windows were lost in the fire, but people managed to save the vestments, sacred vessels, and tabernacle. Also saved were the statues on the main altar, which were recently placed in the new church.

Rev. Francis McGlinchey, who was pastor from 1957 to 1960, decided to construct a new school building. In 1959, the old school was demolished and ground was broken for a new one. It was dedicated as St. Mary's School by Bishop Bryne in 1960. The school was the first "mission" accepted and staffed by the Benedictines of Idaho. Unfortunately, the parishioners were opposed to the new school, and there were insufficient funds to pay for the building.

In 1911, Knights of Columbus Council No. 1554 was formed at St. Mary's. In 1912, an addition of two large classrooms was built on St. Joseph's School. In 1917, St. Mary's was relieved of all missions. Prior to this, the parish had care of missions at Thorncreek, Juliaetta, and Kendrick. In 1958, Court Mother Cabrini No. 1778 of the Catholic Daughters of America was formed at St. Mary's.

In 1904, the first spiritual retreat and synod of the clergy of the Diocese of Boise took place at St. Mary's in August. A synod is a gathering of the clergy of the diocese with the bishop in order to deliberate on matters concerning pastoral care. It was a great honor that the synod was held in Genesee.

In 1900 or 1901, a horse show was held by the parish. This was the forerunner of the Harvest Festival, the parish's annual fundraising dinner. At first, the event lasted three days and was rather like a midsummer carnival. During the Depression, it evolved into a one day bazaar with two meals, a chicken lunch and a sausage dinner. After the middle of the century, it became a sausage dinner that was served most of the day.

There was such debt remaining on the school that the insurance money from the fire had to be used to pay it off. Masses were held in the gymnasium of the new school while Fr. McCarthy and the parishioners began the arduous task of raising the more than $100,000 needed to build a new church. It was not until 1964 that contracts for the new church and rectory were awarded.

Work progressed rapidly, and by 1965 the new church and rectory were complete. They were dedicated on June 20, 1965, by Bishop Sylvester Treinen. Because of the hard work of Fr. McCarthy and the parishioners, there was almost no debt remaining on the church at its dedication.

In 1968, the parochial school closed and the students were absorbed into the Genesee public school system. The building had been occupied only eight years. It is now known as the parish Center, and houses the activities of the parish organizations and is the religious education facility. It is also available for rent for various events.

In 1990, the parish celebrated the centennial of its founding and the dedication of the first church. 1990 also marked the 25 year anniversary of the dedication of the new church. As a result of the Vitality Project and the shortage of priests in the Diocese of Boise and the Catholic Church in general, St. Mary's was downgraded to station status in 1996. St. Mary's is now a station church of St. Mary's Parish in Moscow. Fr. Finucane was appointed Parochial Vicar in residence. In 1998, the local court of the Catholic Daughters disbanded due to a lack of interest.

However, the community remains committed to St. Mary's. In 1998, the Knights of Columbus dedicated a Memorial to the Unborn. This Memorial was installed on the parish grounds during the summer of 1999.  The Knights of Columbus remain active in the parish.  In 2001, members of the Altar Society and the Catholic Daughters formed a new women's organization, the Ladies of St. Mary's. After more than one hundred years, St. Mary's is smaller than at its high point but still active and important.

In 2011, Fr. Finucane died. He had served as pastor and priest-in-residence for 27 years. Fr. Brian May, resident in Moscow, took up pastoral care of the community, commuting from Moscow to support the Catholic community of Genesee and offer the sacraments. The community is once again growing and excited about the future.

Past Pastors of St. Mary's, Genesee:

· Rev. Francis Hartlieb (1889-1893),

· Rev. J.J. Burri (1893-1896),

· Rev. Francis Hartlieb and Rev. J. Frei (1896-1897),

· Rev. Mueller (1897-1898),

· Rev. Remi Keyzer (1898-1907),

· Rev. A.M. Billiau (1907-1911),

· Rev. Joseph M. Haegy (1911-1914),

· Rev. Francis Bonora (1914-1917),

· Rev. F.A. Becker (1917-1921),

· Rev. Lambert Godschalx (1921-1928),

· Rev. B.J. Carey (1928-1937),

· Rt. Rev. John A. Jentges (1937-1939),

· Rev. Charles Veit (1939-1944),

· Rev. John B. Kunkel (1944-1946),

· Rev. Bernard McBride (1946-1957),

· Rev. Francis P. McGlinchey (1957-1960),

· Rev. B.C. McCarthy (1960-1970),

· Rev. Thomas Lafey (1970-1972),

· Rev. Edward T. Cope (1972-1973),

· Rev. Urban Schmidt (1973-1974),

· Rev. William Dohman (1974-1977),

· Rev. Edward T. Cope (1977-1984),

· Rev. Robert Finucane (1984-1997),

· Rev. Joseph Schmidt (1997-2010).

· Parish Life Director,Dcn. George Canney

                          and Parochial Vicar Rev. Brian May (2010-2012)

· Rev. Michael St. Marie (2012-2013)

· Rev. Joseph McDonald III (2013- )

St. Mary's Catholic Community                         Moscow & Genesee, ID

Fr. Joseph F. McDonald, III JCL, Pastor

Deacon George Canney

Deacon Ray Daigh