This building is the old site of St. Francis Xavier located on the corner of Duck and 6th Street.
Our new church was dedicated in March of 2018. We are located on the corner of Country Club and McElroy.
St. Francis Xavier Parish has a long, rich history in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In the very beginning, there was no bishop, and no diocese. The first priest in the area was a traveling missionary priest from Sacred Heart, a Benedictine Monastery near Shawnee. In 1891, Bishop Theophile Meerschaert was appointed Vicar Apostolic. He sent Father Felix de Grasse to pastor in Stillwater since he was stationed in residence of the first Bishop in Guthrie. He later became the Abbot of Sacred Heart Abbey. Due to the rough conditions, Father de Grasse’s visits to Stillwater were sporadic and there are very few written details of his visits.
The St. Francis Xavier Church building has had many transformations. In 1899, the first church was built for $645. It was 30’X 40’, the interior was unplastered and the pews were only rough planks. The first altar was built by A.M. Greiner, the grandfather of current parishioners Father James Greiner and Carol Ann Powell, from a packing box. There was very little money raised, barely enough to pay the visiting priests.
In 1900, the Bishop decided to put a priest in either Pawnee or Stillwater-dependent upon which community could provide housing. Once again, A.M. Greiner stepped forward and took up a collection in the amount of $250 to add two rooms to the back of the existing church. This addition housed the first resident priest, Father John Dupret. Through the years, a church at West Point was dismantled and the lumber was used to add on to St. Francis Xavier. The altar from West Point was also moved here as well as some of their furnishings. The church was officially dedicated on December 3, 1901.
In 1904, Stillwater had a Catholic church complete with a steeple, a sacristy, a school, a ½ story house for the nuns, a tiny 2-room rectory, and a half block of land midway between the business district and Oklahoma A&M College. A new rectory was built in August 1914 for $3245. In March 1915, the parish was incorporated under the title of St. Francis Xavier of Stillwater, Oklahoma with A.M. Greiner and Anton Schroeder as directors. By 1919, there were 75 families and 24 students at Oklahoma A&M College worshipping at St. Francis Xavier.
In the early 1900’s there was great animosity and prejudice toward Catholics. The fanaticism was fanned by the Ku Klux Klan, who had a parade down 6th Street in 1917. White robed figures rode on horseback carrying a firey cross. Eye witnesses reported it was a chilling sight. Reports are that St. Francis Xavier Church provided refuge to others during the tumultuous times.
The second St. Francis Xavier Church was dedicated on March 25, 1951. It was built for $161,000. Father Eric Beevers chose the Roman style with arches that were familiar to him from his native England. He also selected the saints portrayed in the stained glass windows on the west side of the church under the rose window for the following reasons: 1) St. Gregory the Great because he is one of the great Doctors of the Latin Church; 2) St. Benedict, Founder of Monasticism, because the Benedictines had served the parish in the earliest, most difficult days; 3) St. Romuald, a holy monk known for his sanctity; and 4) St Bernard, Doctor of the Church, because of his reverence for learning and study. These windows remain in the church building and are currently being incorporated into the design for the renovation the building for use by Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma to serve the poor of Payne County.
The third St. Francis Xavier Church was dedicated March 11, 2018 by Bishop David Konderla. The $22,000,000 facility incorporates a beautiful church (nave), parish offices, spacious parish hall, school building, youth room, gymnasium, an outdoor playground and sand volleyball court, all on 20 acres of land donated by the Heid Family. The current church sits at the corner of Country Club Road and McElroy Road just outside the city limits of Stillwater.
The current church came to be after extensively collaboration between parishioners of the old St. Francis Xavier Church and St. John University Parish (now known as St. John Catholic Student Center). Entirely funded by the generosity of the people of Payne County, the current parish now incorporates all non college students as her members. The church was built under the leadership of Fr. Ken Harder, Fr. Stuart Crevcoure, and a dedicated leadership and finance team. It was undertaken and completed through the final years of the episcopacy of Bishop Edward Slattery and the first years of Bishop David Konderla.
Father Brian O'Brien was installed as Pastor of the new St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church on March 11, 2018 at the end of the dedication Mass.
Since the dedication, an initiative has been undertaken to build a Stillwater priest rectory on the grounds of the new church. This rectory will house all Stillwater priests and have room for other priests and seminarians as the parish grows. It is expected to be completed in September 2019.
A 10 year mission and vision plan is currently being formed and is expected to be promulgated in June of 2019.