When Eber Baker founded Marion in 1822, a handful of Catholics lived in the area. By 1844, with a Catholic population of 100, Marion became a mission site and circuit-riding priests celebrated Masses in private homes. In 1854, the Huber Shop on Mill Street was purchased and became the first permanent place of worship. As the parish grew so did the need for a larger place of worship. On land purchased by Timothy Fahey in 1853, a new church was built and later dedicated by Bishop Rosecrans. Before long, this red brick building, measuring 70 by 40 feet, could no longer serve the growing Catholic population and plans for a new church were underway. It was to be built on land purchased by Father John Mackey, the site of our current church. This magnificent edifice was completed in 1898.
Constructed of Berean sandstone, St. Mary Church was built in the Victorian Gothic style. Like many churches, St. Mary has undergone several renovations introducing contemporary styles. The most recent renovation began in the Spring of 1994 under the leadership of Father James Klima. A committee of parishioners was formed to study and facilitate a rebirth and revival of St. Mary Church by bringing the church interior back to a more original appearance. Work was completed in May 1998 and the first Mass was celebrated on the Feast of Pentecost, May 30, 1998.
Along with the wish to create a beautiful place of worship for the faithful, the desire for education was ever-present. The first parish school opened in September, 1875, and also served as the residence for three Sisters of Charity who taught there. Once again due to growth, a larger school was built in 1905 on Prospect Street and in 1906, a new convent was built next to the school. By 1927, a new addition was needed on the school to meet the expanding Catholic population. St. Mary School, once the site of both elementary and high schools, continues to serve kindergarten through grade eight. The convent, now known as the Commons, is no longer the home of the sisters but provides office space for the staff and serves as a meeting place for parish activities.
In 1955, land was purchased on Mt. Vernon Ave. for the establishment of Marion Catholic High School. The preparatory school opened its doors in the fall of 1957 and was closed in the spring of 2013.