St Boniface – Brief History on the Survival of a Large Country Church in Rural Kansas


The St Boniface Church and Cemetery is located in Scipio, KS, a modest hamlet in between the cities of Richmond and Garnett, and two-miles east of Freeway-fifty nine. This Catholic church with its 160′ copper steeple and its stained-glass home windows is uniquely significant for a country church, also acquiring an equal-in-size rear ‘L’ wing that is now a rectory and retreat mixed. At 1 time this two-story limestone wing was a monastery for twenty five Carmelite friars, who crafted the present limestone church, and who subsistence farmed/gardened up to 600-acres all over it.

Primary Church

In the mid 1850’s, a handful of Jesuit missionaries served the Native Americans in jap Kansas. And then, against these missionaries wishes, these natives had been moved further south. At about the identical time, many immigrants had been having up farm land in the Scipio location, most of them German Catholics.

Due to the fact the Scipio group preferred its very own church negative, two outstanding users of this neighborhood prevailed on the bishop in Leavenworth for their very own priest. They acquired a after-a-month viewing missionary as an alternative. Nonetheless, simply because his unannounced visits failed to do the job well, they prevailed on the bishop again, who compensated them a visit. Just after seeing the nearly 40 devoted families of religion and usually means residing there, he assigned them a lasting priest.

The neighborhood then crafted their new resident priest a modest home and log-church on twenty-acres of donated land. It was devoted in the spring of 1859. St Boniface would be the only Catholic church in Anderson county for twenty five years. Nonetheless, this problem would adjust in time as its surrounding massive picture produced.

Outgrowing It

In 1865, St Boniface was turned above to the Carmelite Get, a significant get of friars with German roots. This Get gave the parish a massive enhance in membership. In 1869, the railroad came nearby. By the 1870’s, the parish had outgrown its log church, which was also harmed by a prairie fire. With much more families in the parish now, designs had been commenced for a new church on top of the hill, west of the log 1.

In 1873, their head friar requested the design of a log body Carmelite monastery which would also provide as Mt Carmel College parallel to what would later grow to be the present church. For a while, the church products and services would be held in this body monastery, while the new church was staying crafted.

Sooner or later, this potential developing arrangement would give the entire facility a significant ‘U’ condition facing west when finished. The design continued with a 1-space parochial faculty, a neighborhood corridor, and a Ursuline Sisters home north of the proposed church. In the meantime, the friars and lay-individuals acquiring stonemason capabilities hewed and stockpiled their very own limestone blocks for the prepared 1881-crafted church. Its cornerstone was laid in 1882.

By this time, the Carmelites had enhanced their land holdings to 600 acres. The brothers farmed/gardened it, which bundled a 10-acre winery and winery. They also crafted a massive rectangular red barn and sheds for dairy cows, livestock, hay, grain storage, and tools. No doubt, they had a smoke residence and areas for butchering, canning, and undertaking laundry.

Times Transformed

Due to the fact the township surrounding Scipio is on a country street in between Highways fifty nine & 169, it hardly ever incorporated. Only a number of residences continue to be there these days. Other Catholic churches sprang up in the nearby cities of Richmond, Garnett, and Greeley, all 3 of them on active highways that came into staying in time.

The body higher education shut, and was at some point torn down. The parochial faculty also shut. So did the nearby railroad, which later became a 51-mile rail-path. Many friars and Ursuline sisters/teachers left for other areas. The farming stopped. The land was rented out for a while, but was at some point bought. A storm ruined the massive Carmelite barn, and the population in the nearby cities enhanced.


St Boniface even now has about 60 energetic families in its parish these days. Its Easter and Christmas products and services have standing-space-only attendance. Its higher education-developing space is turned into a meditation back garden with a fountain. Its limestone monastery has been retrofitted into a rectory and modern-day 3-unit retreat for clergymen and many others needing peaceful therapeutic. It truly is known as Elijah’s Rest.

Two friars reside in the rectory, exactly where they provide the church. The historic cemetery is even now applied, and sits exactly where the first log-church stood. Tourists visit this church and its well-retained cemetery. Its doors are often open. For in-depth data on this church, see the booklet underneath.

Supply by J Delms

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