History of St. Mary's Parish
In the 1850's, Fr. John Kreckel from St. Mary's of Ottumwa came to celebrate Mass in the homes of Monroe County residents. At that time, the greater number of Catholics had settled in the western part of the county near Stacyville, the present-day Georgetown area. The faith community at Georgetown was the first to be established as a parish. In 1874, the pastor of Georgetown led residents in the Albia area in their organization as a mission church purchasing a frame building formerly used by the Episcopal congregation and located on Benton Avenue East in Albia. In the 1890's, priests from Centerville served our church.
By 1904 St. Mary's membership had increased significantly, and the first resident priest was appointed. Plans were made for a new church building. The Episcopal congregation repurchased the building they had previously owned and had it moved to another location. The same year the building of the new St. Mary's Church on Benton Avenue East was completed and land for St. Mary's Cemetery was purchased.
In 1954, St. Mary's School was established first using the former "Judge Anderson" home on Benton Avenue East. In 1958 the parish purchased the "Powell" residence directly west of the church for use as St. Mary's Rectory. This permitted the former rectory, east of the church, to become the convent for the Sisters of Humility who staffed the school. A new school building was erected on Washington Avenue East, and classes were first held there in January of 1961. In the early 1970's, due to low enrollment and mounting expenses, St. Mary's School was closed.
Construction of a new church, social hall and rectory began in 1979 and was finished in 1980 on 21 acres of land between Old Highway 34 and Benton Avenue West on the west side of Albia. The first Mass in the new St. Mary's Church was celebrated May 11, 1980 and the church was formally dedicated in February, 1981. In 1988, an education wing was built adjoining the social hall.
St. Mary's Church was served by priests of the Diocese of Davenport until 1999, when the Missionaries of the Precious Blood were requested by the Diocese to provide pastoral service to the parish.