The history of Catholicity in Osawatomie dates back to Indian days. In November 4, 1838, migrating Potawatomie Indians with Jesuit Father Petit came to this area. With Father Hoecken, we had the first Catholic congregation and a temporary church until March 4, 1839 when they moved to the present site of the Philippine Duchesne Park in upper Linn County. In 1889, the Catholics of Osawatomie claimed their plot of ground given to each denomination of the community by the Town Company of Osawatomie. Fr. O’Connor, pastor in Paola organized the parish naming it St. Philip Neri.
Fr. Eugene Vallely became the first resident pastor in 1918. Pastors from Paola had taken care of St. Philip Neri parish for 30 years, saying mass usually on the 4th Sunday of the month. On other Sundays, Osawatomie Catholics had to attend the church at Paola. Fr. Vallely set about to build a combination church, school and sisters’ residence on the grounds near the small frame church. The school and sisters’ residence were on the first floor and the church was on the second. The Ursuline nuns from Paola taught at St. Philip Neri school until 1966, when the school was closed due to shortage of sisters.
With the closing of the school, thoughts once again turned to the building of a new church. A decision was made to raze the old church and build a new one in its place. Work on the new church began in January 1970. After the completion of the work, Archbishop Ignatius J. Strecker blessed and dedicated the new church on November 29, 1970.
St. Philip Neri Catholic Church
514 Parker Ave.
Osawatomie, KS 66064