Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church History

Prior to the turn of the last century, various missionaries came through Kingman, Az. Thanks to his strong recommendation to the Bishop of Tucson, Fr. Cypriano Vabre received permission to build a church here. The Diocese of Tucson established it existence starting on May 8, 1897. The idea of a Catholic church in Kingman started to sprout up in the mind of Fr. Vabre on March 28, 1901.

Construction of the first church building in Kingman commenced in September of 1906. We can only imagine why so many years passed before construction of the church actually began. May it was because there were only about 15 to 20 Catholic families then. Local artisans brought their skills to the labor necessary for a new church. They did such a great job that the building is still in use even to today for weekday Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day. There were not many babies standing in line to be baptized, because the first recorded one happened in October 1913. Likewise it took awhile for someone to decide to marry in the new Catholic church, and that was back in April 1915.

Soon this new missionary church had its first resident pastor, Fr. Edward Albouy in 1917. He took on the task of building the parish rectory (or priests' house) east of the church building. When the most Reverend Bernard T. Espelage, O.F.M. became the first bishop of the newly formed Gallup Diocese in 1939, he territory included Kingman.

Eventually a Catholic school came part of the parish life, as it began operating in 1944. Through its 41 year history, various women religious congregations staffed it, such as the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, and then the Society of the Precious Blood (1981-1985), along with lay teachers as well. Small enrollment, heavy financial stress, and dwindling religious vocations slammed the school doors shut in 1985. Many of the active parishioners were disappointed, of course. After the school closed its doors, it was torn down to make way for a new church, one larger than the 1906 one. Bishop Bernard T. Espelage, O.F.M. dedicated it in October 1967. When Phoenix became a diocese in its own right in December 1969, Saint Mary Catholic Church composed part of its territory, as did the whole of Mohave County. Mohave County of course displays the town of Bullhead City (St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church), and Lake Havasu (Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church) on the map. During the passage of time (1917 to 2005) a total of 17 distinct missions or missionary stations gathered the believing Catholics together for the reception of the sacraments and in particular, for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the Mass.