St. Ferdinand Catholic Parish celebrated 225 years as a Parish on Sunday, September 15, 2013. The day began with a Mass in the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine celebrated by Archbishop Robert Carlson, and a childrens’ Mass in the Knights of Columbus pavilion celebrated by Father Joe Post. The celebration continued with the children singing to Archbishop Carlson while holding sunflowers, which remind us of St. Philippine Duchesne, whom we proudly claim as our saint. A delicious lunch was enjoyed by all. Over 600 attended this historic celebration.
You can read Archbishop Robert Carlson's Homily and Sr. Barb Dawson's talk on Mother Duchesne and Mayor Tom Schneider's talk on St. Ferdinand in Florissant here.
In 1788 Commandant Francois Dunegant deeded the land for St. Ferdinand Parish. In 1789 the first log church was built. Do you realize that the U.S. was founded just 12 years earlier in 1776? Missouri was not a state when St. Ferdinand was founded. The Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, built in 1821 to replace the original church, is believed to be the oldest standing church of any denomination in all of the 1804 Louisiana Purchase Territory. St. Philippine Duchesne founded the first Society of the Sacred Heart motherhouse in the United States on the parish grounds. She also established the first Indian school for girls in the U.S. and a free school for boys and girls at St. Ferdinand. Also, Father Peter DeSmet, known as the Apostle of the Indians, was ordained at St. Ferdinand in 1827.The active parish moved to today’s St. Ferdinand Parish property in 1957.
We are proud to be the third oldest Catholic Church west of the Mississippi, following the Old Cathedral and Ste. Genevieve.
This celebration was a tribute to all who contributed so much to this parish these last 225 years. We have so much history. Saints and sinners have knelt and prayed, cried and rejoiced at St. Ferdinand. Let us thank the Lord for our history and ask Him to bless our future.
St. Ferdinand Parish and School have much to be proud of with a rich tradition and many memories to be shared. If you would like to share stories or photographs to be preserved with the Parish history, please contact the Parish Office. A History of the Parish from the last 50 years is being compiled for the celebration.