Walsh County, North Dakota


“Walsh Heritage” Vol 2, pg 676

LOCATION: 505 Park Street East, Park River, ND

     The resplendent and modern structure on Highway 17 just east of Park River, ND, which stands as a welcoming sentinel for all residents and travelers in the area, is the home of the new St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Park River. It is the symbol of progress from the early days of a traveling priest who would celebrate the Holy Mass in the homes of the few catholic families in this area. This prior to the time of the construction of St. Veronica’s Church, a modest frame building seating 150, built at a cost of $600 in 1888 at the corner of Code Ave. and 6th Street. This was replaced in 1914 by St. Mary’s Church, built on the same site at a cost of $5,000, with a seating capacity of 350. In 1969 a new brick structure housing Church Rectory and Parish Center was built on the present site on Highway 17 at a cost of $350,000.

     The first resident priest was Rev. John Maxwell, 1911 to 1913, followed by Rev. Patrick Long, Rev. Alex McDonald, Rev. Phillip McGee, Rev. Charles Fay, Rev. John J. O’Meara, Rev. Michael McNamee, and present pastor, Rev. E.A. Zirbes.

     The altar from old St. Mary’s was a special order, hand cast in Germany and shipped here in sections, with a valued construction cost of $1800. It is now on display at the Walsh County Museum in Minto, ND.

     Submitted by Mrs. Phyllis Cowger, Park River, ND



“Walsh Heritage”, Vol 2, pg 675

     Forty hard working pioneers gave the parish of St. Mary’s its start by building St. Veronica’s Church in 1888. It started as a Missionary to the Larimore Parish and remained as such for 16 years, although it was officially incorporated in 1895.

     The first resident Priest, an Irishman, introduced Catholic practices yet uncommon to Park River. These were the Benediction of the Blessed Sacraments, Stations of the Cross, Lenten devotions, and observance of the Nine Fridays.

     Talk of building a new church came in 1913, because the membership had increased to 150l In 1914 this became a reality with the building of a new church on the same site, and the name changed to St. Mary’s. The new structure could seat 350 with a choir loft in back. Cost of the church was $5,000. From 1914 to 1938 the Parish of St. Mary’s continued to grow and prosper.

     When Father O’Meara arrived in 1938, things started to move. He built a chapel in the basement of the Rectory for Lenten services, and Mass during winter months. In 1941 the name of St. Mary’s was changed to St. Mary’s of the Presentation. Although the Parish was 45 years old, Mass was only celebrated every other Sunday due to Missionaries at Milton and Osnabrock. When there were no longer Missionaries and there was only Conway to serve, Mass was celebrated every Sunday in both parishes.

     Another outstanding event that took place in 1941 was the celebrating of the first Holy Mass of Rev. Lloyd Joseph Hylden, who was ordained in Fargo on June 7 of that year. Father Hylden, a native of Park River, was born here Dec. 17, 1913, the only one from the parish to enter the priesthood. Rev. Father J.J. O’Meara served our parish from Sept. 1, 1938 to June of 1964.

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