We are often asked for a history of St. Mary's College. Perhaps our visitors want to know how it was founded as a frontier Indian Mission, grew into a famous Jesuit men's College, and later became a Jesuit seminary for more than three decades to its closing in 1967 - a glorious history indeed!
Others want to know what happened after the years of abandonment when the campus was acquired by the Society of St. Pius X in 1978, marking the beginning of the "new" St. Mary's - a chronicle of twenty-five years of reclamation and growth that could fill a hefty volume!
Still others want to know about the buildings - the visible St. Mary's. When were they built? What were they used for, then and now?
The following chronology attempts to fill these requests. By no means a complete history, it proposes to convey an overview of the past century and a half at this hollowed spot on the Kansas prairie. Being a rather dry list of events and expansion, our timeline cannot possibly convey adequately the impact of St. Mary's real purpose, the spiritual one.
St. Mary's Mission was founded to bring the light of the True Faith to these prairies. Truly in the heart of America, it is located just 100 miles from the geographical center of the lower 48 states. Since its founding, it has been dedicated to the Mother of God and has borne her name.
St. Mary's first mission was to serve the spiritual needs of the American Indians, especially the Potawatomi. As an early outpost on the Oregon Trail, St. Mary's missionaries soon found themselves ministering also to the white settlers. Later, the Mission developed into a well-known Jesuit College where young Catholic men were given an excellent Catholic education; eventually the College continued as a seminary to train Jesuit priests to bring the Faith to the world.
Today - still Our Lady's place - and despite so many changes and trials in the Church and in the world, St. Mary's continues under the Society of St. Pius X its mission of educating youth, that the true Holy Catholic Faith may be passed to succeeding generations.
Although the following pages will tell mostly of material milestones, such as the erection of buildings and the expansion of the physical campus of St. Mary's during a century and a half, please remember as you read that everything here as been done Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam - to the greater glory of God. These initials, "A.M.D.G." of the Jesuit motto, can be seen on many of our buildings, and remain as a testimony that all was done for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, be it the erection of a new dormitory, the founding of a Sodality, or the forming of a team for wholesome sports.
Still today at St. Mary's every activity is informed by the light of the true Catholic Faith, enriched by the practice of Catholic life, and blessed by the graces from the Tridentine Mass.
Thus may St. Mary's ever continue! May it ever remain Our Lady's place where she is Queen, and where action is accomplished in the words of the motto chosen for our tenth anniversary, over fifteen years ago: "By the grace of God, for the glory of God."