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Mass and dinner to mark centennial celebration

Past Priests

Father John P. Devane, 1904-1911
Father Thomas J. Fehily, 1911-1916
Father Cornelius Collins, 1916-1921
Msgr. Charles R. Strassberger, 1921-1927
Father John J. O'Sullivan, 1927-1935
Father John D. Mines, 1935-1936
Father Timothy Marcel Keliher, 1936-1939
Msgr. Bartholomew J. Leahy, 1939-1941
Msgr. James Ahearne, 1941-1943
Father Ignatius Spenner, administrator, pastor, 1943-1948
Father William F. Lordemann, 1948-1951
Father Patrick A. Carroll, 1951-1960
Father James Kenny, 1960-1970
Father Michael J. Kelly, 1970-1978
Father Jerome Spenner, 1978-1982
Father J. Kenneth Carl, 1982-1983
Father Allen J. Martin, 1983-1985
Father Norman Hunke, 1985-1990
Father Michael Grewe, 1990-1992
Father Rodney Kneifl, 1992-1996
Father Al Salanitro, 1996-2000
Father Mark Tomasiewicz, 2000-2003
Father James McCluskey, 2003-present

The Catholic Voice

Past and present parishioners of St. Mary Parish in Laurel will be celebrating 100 years of worship and community with a weekend celebration July 22-23.

The festivities begin at 2 p.m. July 22 with activities for children, including games, funnel cakes and popcorn. A Mass will be celebrated at 6 p.m.

Bingo, cards and pie are planned for 7:30 p.m. in the Faith Community Hall, at the same time a street dance is planned for the teenagers.

Highlighting the centennial celebration will be a 3 p.m. Mass, July 23, celebrated by Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss. Many previous pastors will join the current pastor, Father James McCluskey, as concelebrants. One of the former pastors, Father Norman Hunke, will deliver the homily.

After Mass, St. Mary's Altar Society will host a reception and meal, as well as a short program for remembrances and recognitions.

'I think this is a unique parish and I am happy to serve it," said Father McCluskey. 'The parishioners are enthusiastic and the future looks strong if they work together."

Father McCluskey is the 23rd pastor to serve the parish since it was founded in 1906.

Early Catholics in Laurel held Mass in private homes when a visiting priest could make the journey, usually by horseback. Later, a hall was rented once a month to be used as a church.

In 1905, the congregation bought a corner lot for $210 and the contract for a Catholic church in Laurel was given Oct. 10 with the stipulation that it be built in three months.

It was finished Jan. 1, 1906, and Mass was celebrated in the new church Feb. 4, 1906. The Laurel parish was a mission of St. Anne's in Dixon until 1916 when a home was purchased for a rectory and the first resident pastor, C.C. Collins, moved to Laurel. Now, 100 years later, St. Anne parish is a mission of St. Mary.

Until it was destroyed by fire in the 1960s, Tara Hill also was a mission of Laurel.

St. Mary parishioners continue to worship in the original building although many renovations have taken place over the years, including the addition of the entryway and steeple in the 1920s. Several years later, a basement was added and used for special events until the new Faith Community Hall was built in 1996.

The church also has been updated with new carpet, light fixtures, a bell and stained glass windows.

Two men from the parish have entered the priesthood, Father Francis Bass and Father Duane Lukes.

A history book is planned to mark the celebration and will be published after the centennial celebration. For more information about the book or the celebration, contact Betty Kavanaugh at

The Catholic Voice

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