History of St. Mary’s Moscow

Interior of St. Mary’s Church in Moscow c. 1930s

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From the earliest days of permanent settlement in Moscow, there were Catholics here.  The first Masses that were held here in town were offered by Fr. Alexander Diomedi, the Lewiston-based pastor for the whole region in the 1870s, who would pass through town occasionally and offer Mass in parishioners’ homes.

The parish began to organize in the 1880s and began celebrating Mass in a downtown building on July 25, 1882. The multipurpose building was also used as a skating rink and dance hall. This first “church” burned down just two years later.

The first dedicated Catholic Church, named for the Holy Trinity, was built in 1887 and dedicated in 1889. It was located where the county library annex now stands, at the corner of Jefferson and Adams, across from Russell School. In 1893, the small church building was moved to the corner of First and Howard (the present site of our parking lot). The Ursuline sisters came to Moscow in 1908 and opened the Ursuline Academy, the forerunner of St. Mary’s School.

Fr. Oswald Mogg initiated a campaign to build our present church in 1926. The parish’s name was changed to “St. Mary’s” in 1927 because of a stipulation attached to a donation of $1000.00 by a now-unknown donor.  Our present Tudor/English Gothic church was dedicated on December 14, 1930. Total membership at the time was 72.

In 1968, the old church was remodeled for use as a meeting room and a gymnasium. It was torn down in 1973 to make room for our present Family Center (dedicated in 1979) and parking lot.

St. Mary’s has continued to grow and change in the years since. Today, you will find here a diverse community of Catholic Christians striving to build on the work done by our fathers and mothers before us, and fulfill our mission to bring the light of Christ in our world.