History of Old St. Patrick

The following is an excerpt from "This Far By Faith" by Father Michael Coleman, archivist of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese.

The third parish established in Kansas City was St. Patrick Parish. By 1857 the city limits of Kansas City had been extended to 22nd Street and Woodland Avenue. After the Civil War a large number of Irish Catholics migrated to Kansas City, settling on the east side, along Cherry, Holmes, Charlotte and Campbell Streets. There were only two parishes: the present Cathedral Parish and the German-speaking parish, S.S.. Peter and Paul. St. Patrick Parish was established in 1868, and everyone living east of Main, who was not German-speaking belonged to it. However, there were not more than 200 families involved.

The Early YearsSt. Patrick in Kansas City history

The congregation met for the first three months at S.S. Peter and Paul Church for Mass. Fr. James Halpin was the first pastor. Property was purchased on 24 August 1868, on the southwest corner of Seventh and Oak S.S.., from Peter W. and Julia Ditsch, and Nathan and Martha M. Scarritt. Among the first names we meet in the parish history are the following: Edward Corrigan, Edward Kelly, Joseph Kelly, J. O'Brien, and James Redding. Plans were made to build a large church, but all the congregation could afford was the basement, and actually could afford to cover only one fourth of that. The stonework proved to be more costly than the architect had thought. When the estimate was given it was not realized that so much excavating would have to be done. For one side of the church an excavation 35 feet deep had to be made.

On 11 July 1872, Fr. Halpin retired. Fr. James Archer was sent from St. Louis in August. He was able to unite the divided congregation. There was concern that the parish was over its head in debt. However, an investigation quickly showed that there was scarcely any debt at all.

St. Patrick in Kansas City historyWith this knowledge the congregation then decided to go ahead and finish the church. However, they were very disappointed to learn that the walls were too weak to support a superstructure. They were faced with a dilemma: should they tear down the walls and start over, or should they sell the property and move to a new location.

At Christmas of 1872, the parish held a very successful fund raiser, netting some $1200. With some other contributions they now had about $2000 on hand. Before the issue could be resolved, however, Fr. Archer was reassigned to St. Louis.

Fr. James A. Dunn arrived soon thereafter. The issue before the congregation, still about 200 families, was decided in favor of moving. The site on the southwest corner of Eighth and Cherry Streets was purchased, lots 1142, Block One, M.M. Evan's addition, from John and Annie Dwyer on 6 May 1874. On 16 August 1874, lot 10 was purchased from Bernard and Sallie Donnelly (this Donnelly was a public notary), giving the parish the first three lots on the west side of Cherry from 8th Street. The former site was sold. Ground was broken in May 1875, for the new church, projected to be 120' x 64', with a seating capacity of 800.

The congregation was able to salvage most of the stone to be used in beginning the new building. Since so little of the former structure was used, they were able to build a new church while continuing to use the former building.

In an undated article which appeared in a paper called The Tribune during the time the parish school was being built, it is stated that the church was begun from plans furnished by a St. Louis architect named Brady, which were similar in specific details to the Church of the Annunciation, at the corner of Sixth and Chouteau Streets in St. Louis (This church was torn down in December 1928 to make way for a bridge.) Perhaps the writer is refer ring to the first church. The book, Kansas City, published by the Kansas City Chapter of The American Institute of Architects, 1979, page 59, states that the church was designed by Asa Beebe Cross, a pioneer architect of the city, in the Italianate (Baroque) style. The book, Kansas City: A Place in Time, published by the Landmarks Commission of Kansas City, Missouri, 1977, page 43, says the same thing. Some prefer to identify the architecture of the church as Italian Renaissance Revival.

St. Patrick in Kansas City historyIt was a slow time in the construction trades, and many people were out of work. The parish had many people who worked in these trades, and they volunteered their help to erect the church. It is said that the brick used in the church (reportedly from Fr. Donnelly's brickyard, and made by parishioners) cost less than $5 per thousand. The total cost of the church was approximately $45,000, most of which apparently came from Fr. Dunn himself.

The congregation celebrated its first Mass in the new church on Christmas 1875. However, the church itself was not completely finished until 1881. At first there was no furnace in the church. In fact it was not until 1880 that the parish could afford to plaster the inside of the building. On 17 May 1881, Fr. Dunn signed a contract with Louis Weishar of Hannibal, MO., to complete the carpentry work. The pastor agreed to pay him $1780, and he was to have the worked finished by 15 July.

The facade of the church consisted of a gabled pediment, flanked by twin bell towers. In the first story were three arched doors over which are gables. The second story was pierced by seven arched, stained glass windows. The doors and windows were trimmed in stone and the facade is decorated with stone quoins. Each face of the third story in the towers had an arched louvered window above which was a gable. The towers were capped with octagonal copper domes above which are octagonal cupolas, each surmounted by a cross

The nave's vaulted ceiling of coffered panels was supported by 12 slender fluted Corinthian columns from which spring arcades of Roman arches.

St. Patrick in Kansas City historyIn 1878 a nine room rectory, of brick and stone, immediately to the south of the church and facing Cherry Street was built. It may have been designed by A.B. Cross as well.

The Catholic Knights of America were established on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost, 1879. A collection was taken up for the church debt this year. The names of contributors with the amount of their contribution was read each Sunday.

By 1880 there were 400 families, with about 2000 individuals. There was further growth during this decade. However, the expansion of downtown Kansas City also continued. The end result was that St. Patrick parish became a parish for transients.

From the beginning, the parish had a school. The sanctuary of the old church building was screened off by heavy curtains each morning after Mass, and the nave served as a class-room. At first classes were held for only a few months in the winter. The first teacher was Belle Jackson.

Later there was a school at 7th and Oak Streets. In 1872 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet took over the school, but stayed only a few months. In the fall of 1877 the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth took over and stayed for three years.

Soon after coming Fr. Dunn purchased with his own money a plot of land on the northwest corner of Eighth and Cherry Street (512 E. 8th St. There is a telephone building on the site at present). Here a school was built in 1882, 80' x 40', three stories high including basement, and large enough for 350 students. The upper story was an auditorium. It cost $9700. It was to be occupied October 1882. When Fr. Dunn died, he willed the land to the Diocese.

In 1906 this school was used for the first classes for St. John Minor Seminary. In 1955 it was being used as the central office and salvage store of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

St. Patrick in Kansas City historyThe Young Ladies' Sodality was organized 31 November 1873. The St. Vincent de Paul Society was organized 6 November 1881, the first in the city.

In 1882, the Sisters of St. Joseph returned to the school and remained until 1889. In 1889 the Christian Brothers opened a classroom in the basement for boys. The Brothers moved to the Cathedral in 1890.

In the fall of 1889, the Sisters of Loretto took over the school and remained until 1893. The Loretto Sisters withdrew "owing to the scarcity of Sisters to supply the pressing demands of Communities long established. Death and inability have lately thinned our ranks, thus obliging us to withdraw the members of small communities to support others long established." (Letter of Sr. M. Winefred, SL, to Bishop Lillis 19 February 1893.)

The Sisters of Mercy had come to the Diocese in 1887 to establish a home for working girls. In 1912, they would acquire the use of the former Lillis Home at 11th and Forest for their girls, renaming it St. Catherine Hall. In 1893, they took over the school at St. Patrick, which then continued in existence until 1912 when the school closed. This was the first school to be taught by the Sisters of Mercy in Kansas City. The school was torn down about 1960 (precise date is not known.)

A walk-through inventory of the present church showed the following 1990): in the southwest corner of the nave against the east wall was an altar table (mensa), which was part of the old high altar in the church, and was donated by Edward Corrigan. It is made of California red wood. The reliefs on the front: on the left the sacrifice of Isaac and on the right the sacrifice of Melchisadek. The altar stone remained in place. It contained a relic of St. Thomas Aquinas. The reredos was gone, but two of the three statues which once occupied places in it remain in various parts of the church.

St. Patrick in Kansas City history"When the main altar, the gift, I believe, of Mr. Edward Corrigan, was placed in the church we thought our church very grand. I remember so well in those days how we all, in making our visits on Holy Thursday, used to climb that Ninth street hill to St. Patrick's, and how we thought its repository was the finest. There was no car service to assist us, and we generally started at Fr. Donnelly's church (now the Cathedral) and walked to S.S.. Peter and Paul's, thence to St. Patrick's. The crowds of faithful ones going to and fro, so decorous in conduct and so quiet in manner, was most edifying.

"We had only board sidewalks and dirt roads for streets. The mud in wet weather was awful, the dust when it was dry was choking. Still, we never, or rarely ever, complained. We accepted things in a spirit of humility for our religious feeling was deep, and to practice our religion under any condition was a dear privilege which we appreciated." (Mrs. Blake Woodson, "Reminiscences of a Pioneer," 29 July 1915).

The crucifixion group on the top of the mensa was originally located in the space which now serves as a room for sacramental confession (northeast corner of the nave). Formerly the area was used as a lying-in-state room at the time of a funeral. The statues were donated by Catherine and Margaret Corrigan in memory of their sister Mary Agnes.

In the northeast corner of the nave against the east wall on a platform similar in construction to the mensa was a statue of St. Joseph. The statue was wooden, and stood just over seven feet. This statue formerly was in the niche over the side altar now occupied by the Sacred Heart at the front of the church on the right. This statue was made for that niche, and the Sacred Heart statue obviously was not, because of their relative sizes.

The stations of the cross were donated by the mother of Bishop Lillis, Mrs. James Lillis. The stations arrived in November 1896. They are terra cotta, made in Paris, each station standing six feet high. They were the "last word" in stations at the time.

St. Patrick in Kansas City historyThe blessing of the stations on 15 November 1896 was quite an event. The church was filled to capacity, with people standing outside. Apparently part of the attraction was the music slated for the evening. Signore Bolli sang the "Pro Peccatis" from Rossini's "Stabat Mater." Kate Conway and Kate Donnelly sang "Quis Est Homo" by Rossini; Donnelly also sang Himmell's "0 Salutaris," and Goeb's "Tantum Ergo". A "Te Deum" was sung by the parish choir. The stations they replaced were given to the parish in Holden.

Originally the stations were of blue, cream and gold colors which had been fired into the material. In the 1920s they were antiqued to an "old ivory" color. In the 1970s they were finished to look like stone. They were painted off-white, then India ink was rubbed on them. In the summer of 1981 they were polychromed by Joseph Hughes with artist acrylic paints in life-like colors. The cost for the paint for this project was about $800, and was donated anonymously by a member of the parish. At the same time the stations were done, various other statuary in the church was restored to original coloration.

The background in all of the stations was off-white. The decision was made to add skies to the background. The sky progressively darkens until the 12th station (the crucifixion) when it is black. In the 13th station a (Passover) moon has appeared but is blocked by an arm of the cross. In the 14th station the moon shines as a beacon of hope.

In the first station a soldier is holding a bundle of rods with an axe, called "fasces", a symbol of ancient Rome. At the time the stations were made tensions between church and state in France were ebbing. The pharisees are always presented wearing a Parthian hat. In the French Revolution this hat had become an accepted part of the symbolism of the Revolution. The revolutionists viewed the Parthians as ancient freedom fighters.

In the third station, Isaiah appears, and thereafter in any station which represents a fulfillment of one of his prophecies. He is dressed in black, which symbolizes that he is not physically present. Mary Magdalene appears in the fourth station, dressed in violet, a symbol of penance. Although she appears several times in the series, we never see her face.

The stations were removed from the church in the 1950s and placed in the chapel of St. Christopher Inn. This building was taken by Interstate 70, so the stations were returned to the church. However, in the handling of them, much damage was done, which was repaired in 1981.

In what is now a stairwell, but used to be the left vestibule, there was a statue of St. Rose of Lima. This was one of the few remaining objects left which was done in the "stone" style of the 1970s. This statue was one of three which were on the high altar: St. Rose, St. Patrick and St. Bridget. In 1991 the pastor, Monsignor William Blacet, gave this statue to Robert Bussjaeger of Kansas City, who restored it and presented it to St. Rose of Lima parish, Savannah, MO., in memory of his mother, Rose Ann Scanlon Bussjaeger.

In this vestibule the side window and the glass over the door are original. Also the windows over the main door both on the inside and outside of the church are original glass. The design is painted onto the glass.

In the balcony is the episcopal throne of Bishop Lillis. His coat of arms is carved in wood on this large structure, which contains three seating places. This throne was placed at St. John's Seminary when it opened in the 1920s. When the seminary closed, it was going to be destroyed, but Fr. Robert N. Deming arranged that it be brought to St. Patrick's, Bishop Lillis' first parish.

More Recent History

In September 1962 there was a fire in the vestibule and balcony area. To control the fire, firemen had to break out six of the original stained glass windows, as well as the windows in the bell towers. The glass now in these windows was installed after this fire.

The bells from the bell tower were sent to St. John Seminary in the 1950s. Only one bell remains, a bell which was cracked and welded. When it rings, it is said to sound "strange."

In the nave of the church may be found the original pews with evidence remaining that the pews originally had doors. Only those who had paid their pew tax would have access to the pew. In the parish announcement books it is stated that if the pew rent was not paid when due the door to the pew would be locked. There are only five radiators in the whole church. Under most pews are steam pipes which kept the people warm.

The stained glass windows in the nave are enameled glass, that is, the design was fired into the glass. They were installed in 1908. The windows are unique in that the designs give the illusion of three dimensions. They are as follows, with their dedications: From southwest corner to east wall: 1. "Ecce Homo." Msgr. James A. Dunn. 2. "Mater Dolorosa." Michael and Mary Fitzgerald. 3. "Queen of Heaven." Edward and Anna Kelly. 4. "Christ's Charge to St. Peter." Bernard and Johanna McConnell. 5. "St. Bridget." William and Bridget Harvey. 6. "St. Cecilia." Owen and Mary Haney.

From northeast corner to west wall: 1. "St. John Evangelist." Edward and Mary Reardon. 2. "St. Peter." James Dowling. 3. "Transfiguration." Alex. and Ellen Ross 4. "Finding in the Temple." James and Margaret Lillis. 5. "St. Patrick." Matthew and Mary A. Birmingham. 6. "Sacred Heart." Thomas Corrigan, Sr. and Jr.

The statues on the side altars are made of wood, Mary (half life-size) on the left side and the Sacred Heart (life-size) on the right. The Marian altar, in Romanesque style, was given by James Redding and the St. Joseph altar, in Renaissance style, by W.C. Glass, Edward and Joseph Kelly, L. McEntyre, I. O'Brien, P. Redding, and J. Redmond. W.T. Johnson donated the statue of St. Joseph. Standing on small platforms on the floor are statues of St. Anthony of Padua on the left (front along the south wall) and a Pieta on the right (front along the north wall). These two statues are of plaster.

In front of the first pew on the far right side of the church, embedded in the wall at ground level, is Msgr. Dunn's commemorative stone. At one time he was buried in the church in front of this pew. The stone reads: Born: December 1, 1838. Ordained: July 4, 1868. Died: June 14, 1888.

A large piece of the communion rail survives, and is located in the basement. The communion rail ran the width of the sanctuary, including a gentle curve at the center of the sanctuary. What remains in the church has been painted an off-white. The top part of the rail is of mahogany, and the rest of walnut. Originally the carved cherubs and the crosses were gold-leafed.

In a niche on the back wall of the sanctuary (to the left) is the large wooden statue of St. Patrick, originally the central statue of the high altar. In the old reredos, this statue was above the throne for the monstrance or altar crucifix. St. Patrick is shown pointing down, indicating where devout attention should be paid.

The crucifix on the back wall comes from the renovation of the late 1960s. The altar, the baldichino over the altar and the celebrant's chair were made for the 1967 Liturgical Conference held in Kansas City. These objects are made of epoxy resin over fabric and plywood.

Wooden tabernacles on the side altars remain.

There are 12 columns in the church reportedly to commemorate the 12 apostles.

It is said that there were originally paintings in the ceiling panels. There are accounts that the entire church was frescoed on at least two occasions, but there are no extant photographs of this work.

A contemporary account of the silver jubilee states that "the panels of the ceiling show the holy symbols of the Church. There is the Ciborium, containing the sacred hosts. There is the Wheat and Grape of the sacrifice, the Crown of Reward, the Lamb of Innocence, the Pelican, emblematic of a mother's love, tearing open its side to feed its young; the Sacred heart and the Heart of Mary, the Pope's tiara and the bishop's mitre, the towel of Veronica, baring the miraculous picture of the Lord, the Stone Tablets of the Law, Noah's Ark, the Crown of Thorns, the All-Seeing Eye, the Instruments of the Crucifixion, the Cross, the Crown, the Sponge and the Spear."

There is a room over the right sacristy which has been plastered. Msgr. Dunn lived in a room over the sacristy until a rectory could be built. Access was gained by means of a ladder fastened to the side of the wall. The assistant priest lived above the other sacristy. The rooms were 12'x14'. In the sacristy itself there is a statue of St. Bridget, painted brown all over. This statue was one of the 3 on the high altar. The statue is of wood.

There is another room over the left sacristy which extends out over an office which is attached to this sacristy. There is a sexton who lives here today. It is also said that the office was originally Msgr. Dunn's quarters and then a winter chapel. It was built in 1897 for a cost of $1700. The pews from this chapel can be found in the choir loft. In this room are the two Adoring Angels which once stood on plinths at opposite ends of the high altar.

Every old Irish church should have a good ghost story and Old St. Patrick as the oldest church building in the city has several. There is a legend attributed to Bishop Thomas Lillis concerning the ghost of "Fr. Black." The story goes that in the late 19th century a young seminarian of the Diocese drowned. His body was never recovered although an exhaustive search was made. Sometime later, the young man appeared in Kansas City as a priest. Rumors spread that he had come back from the dead. After a year had passed and the mysterious young priest had become beloved as one who would help, no matter the circumstances, he was called in the night to give the last rites to a dying man. He never returned.

Around the turn of the century, Fr. Lillis, pastor of St. Patrick, was surprised to see lights in the church one night at a time when no evening services were scheduled. He entered the church and saw a priest at the altar saying the Requiem Mass. He had left his horse unattended and by the time he returned from seeing to it the church was dark but one of the altar candles was still smoking. "Fr. Black" had evidently been saying his own funeral Mass. There was not a priest in those years named Black. Perhaps his name came from his vestments.

Another legend stated that at some unspecified time in the past a murder took place in the south vestibule. A woman had been left at the altar by her intended. She wrote him a letter asking him to meet her at the church on the following Sunday. When he arrived, she stabbed him to death. This is the bridal couple which is reported to haunt the church.

Finally, there is the story which occurred during Msgr. Bernard Koenig's residence at the parish in the 1950s. It was still the time of the Tridentine Mass. Almost always at the time of the consecration the lights in the church would go out. Many thought that this was an interesting if not amazing coincidence. Msgr. Koenig, not one given to belief in the paranormal, brought in an electrician who determined that when the old wiring heated to a certain point, the lights would go out. He estimated that it took about 15 to 20 minutes, the length of time it would take on the average for a priest at daily Mass to reach the consecration. Once the wiring was fixed, everything returned to normal.

During the pastorate of Fr. Thomas F. Lillis (1888-1904), the debt was paid off, and the church was renovated, redecorated and frescoed. The wooden stairs leading to the front doors were replaced with concrete steps. In 1897, a sacristy was built for $1700. It was also used as a winter chapel. In 1898, an addition was made to the pastoral residence costing $2700.

At the silver jubilee of the parish in 1894, the Grand Military Mass by Cimarosa was sung accompanied by Lenge's orchestra. Singers for the occasion: Anna Brennan; T.C. Dahn; Professor Ed Devemie; Kate Donnelly; Georgia Fitzgerald; Maggie Haney; J.W. Hingston; Mrs. Hutton; Teresa Lawlar, organist; Mr. and Mrs. John Livers; George Muehlebach; Miss M. Murray; G. Ohaus; Celia Quinn; Lily Quinn; H.F. Sloan; Mrs. Dr. I.M. Von Macilineski Ridge; Lulu Whiting.

At the silver jubilee celebration it was said that "these five old parishioners took charge of it late in 1888 and guided it along successfully up to now: W.T. Johnson, W.A. Kelley, Michael O'Doherty, Jacob Welch and Thomas McNamara. (Kansas City Times, "Forty Years Ago," November 14 1934.) They were actually the Church Committee for many years.

At the time of the jubilee, Edward Corrigan donated a $2500 altar, made of butternut wood to serve as the high altar. The Kansas City Times of 17 August 1894, reported that the entire interior of the church would be frescoed by a local artist, Jerome Fedeli. A contemporary account of the silver jubilee states that the church was frescoed by Fedeli, and it "is not excelled by anything of the kind to be seen in Kansas City or St. Louis. The general effect is strikingly beautiful, the combinations of color being at once harmonious and vivid." In 1908 the interior was refrescoed.

Ushers in 1902: Charles Benyhill; Mathew Berryhill; John Brown; James Burns; Charles Downey; William King; Redmund Leary; Thomas Leary; John McNamara; James Quinn; Lewis Schnier; William Spilane.

In February 1915, a free soup kitchen was opened in the school building. Soup and bread were served from 11 a.m. until the supply was exhausted. It closed the same month, feeding 700 the day of it's closing.

In May 1932, the church was extensively redecorated and repaired. Frances Lillis, a sister of the Bishop, underwrote the work. The Lillis home had been in the parish, at 11th and Forest, which was subsequently converted to St. Catherine Home for Girls. The main altar and two side altars were restored to their natural condition. The stations of the cross were redecorated in old ivory, to harmonize with the side walls. A picture of the Ascension (another account says the Resurrection) hanging over the main altar, 20'x12', was restored. It had been painted by Fedeli. The bases of the pillars were marbleized in black and white. Above the confessionals, as well as over the choir loft, four new paintings of choir angels were done in oil. William Miller served as the artist.

In 1939, the roof, towers, friezes and pediments were rebuilt. Alfred Benberg was the architect. The cost was $25,000. In September 1941, what was described as a hurricane-like storm hit the city, tearing off 250 square feet of the slate roof of the church and half of the rectory roof.

On 5 November 1944, the 75th anniversary of the church was duly noted with a solemn pontifical Mass of thanksgiving.

When Bishop Charles Helsming was made an auxiliary bishop of St. Louis in 1947, the crozier which the people of the parish had given to Fr. John J. Glennon on 29 June 1896, when he was made coadjutor to Bishop Hogan, was given to the new bishop. He had been secretary to Cardinal Glennon. It contains small statues of Sts. John and Joseph, Bishop Glennon's patrons, as well as St. Patrick and of the Immaculate Conception.

Beginning in January 1958, the parish was to be officially referred to as "old" St. Patrick's to distinguish it from the "new" St. Patrick across the river in Clay County in the former St. Joseph Diocese.

As early as 1957, there was concern as to how the proposed Eastside Urban Redevelopment would affect the parish property. However, preliminary plans indicated that the church would remain as is. By 2 February 1959, the parish had been canonically suppressed. The church became a chapel of ease, served from the Cathedral.

In November 1961, the Diocese sold to the Redevelopment Authority of Kansas City the church parking lot on the northwest corner of 8th and Cherry. The property brought $64,821. It was 150'x150', and was rented to Tony Palermo. At one point the city had advised that the property would be taken for a cloverleaf for the 1-70 freeway. At one time the Redevelopment Authority considered purchasing all of the church property. ("Resolution No.25714," adopted by the City Council on 9 December 1960, provided for a Publlc Hearing before the Council sitting as the Committee of the Whole in the Council Chambers on the 26th Floor of the City Hall at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, 29 December 1960, to consider proposed amendments to the Eastside Urban Renewal Plan. Among the amendments is the proposal to include the church property, commonly known as Old St. Patrick's Church and Rectory, in the plan for acquisition and demolition by the Authority." (A.J. Harmon to Cody). A dollar figure of $55,836 was placed on the church and rectory by the redevelopment's real estate board of appraisal. It appears that the project may have run out of money before getting to the purchase of the church. At this time there were standing on the property the church, the rectory, a garage and a wooden building in the rear of the rectory.

In 1962, the Diocese purchased Tract Number 10 in the Eastside Urban Renewal Project, on the south-west corner of 9th and Cherry on the site of the old Aberdeen Hotel for parking. This property adjoined church property on the south. The lot was 132 feet on 9th Street and 144 feet on Cherry and cost $71,300. As part of the Urban Renewal Project for the area the Diocese agreed to steam clean the exterior of the church, to paint all the trim, to repair and clean the copper bell tower roof. The broken stained glass windows would be repaired, and the old slate roof would be replaced. The old rectory would be torn down. To some extent the performance of this work depended on assurances from the government that sufficient housing would be constructed in the area to justify keeping the church open.

In September 1962, a fire damaged the front entrance and the balcony of the church, destroying the organ. The organ was an extremely historic and valuable tracker-action pipe organ, one of only eight extant in the United States at the time of its make and design. The fire caused $15,000 in damage. It seems unlikely that this figure included the organ. The fire began in a stack of papers on a table near the shrine on the south side of the front entrance, sometime in the early afternoon.

By January 1963, the decision had been made to locate the freeway far enough north of the church that it would not be torn down.

In 1963, tentative plans were made for some renovation of the church, and a new rectory, for $284,000 but were finally canceled. Plans were drawn by the architectural firm of Roark and Daw, which showed that the parish owned the entire half block from 8th to 9th Street and from Cherry to the alleyway. In 1966, the decision was reaffirmed to put on hold the renovation of the church and the building of a new rectory. The project was envisioned at $200,000 at this time. Finally on 26 December 1968, extensive repairs were begun on the interior of the church: the interior was painted a light cream color, and the building was rewired, a new boiler installed, a new organ purchased, and new carpeting laid.

The baldachino, created by Norman T. Brunelil, a liturgical designer, represented the Ten Commandments. Brunelli also designed the altar, the pulpit, the presiding chair, the tabernacle and the candelabra. The articles had been made for the National Liturgical Conference held in Kansas City in 1967, and Bishop Helmsing designated them for use at St. Patrick's afterwards. T.J. Geraughty was the architect. By 22 May 1969, the sanctuary had been remodeled. The former wood altar with three statues had been replaced with a simple but massive curved table.

On 15 January 1970, Thomas Baskerville, the resident and long time custodian of the church died. He became associated with the parish in 1947, when he became ill while traveling by train and had to get off in Kansas City. He checked into a hotel near 9th and Cherry, and was attracted to the parish. In 1960, he was asked to live temporarily in the rectory until it could be torn down, which was a long time coming. He was buried in Joliet, IL.

On 14 March 1976, the church was solemnly blessed. In June 1982, a severe storm again damaged the roof, allowing some water damage to some of the church's interior.

The parish is rather notable in that during its history three of its priests were named bishop: John J. Glennon (associate pastor), Thomas F. Lillis (pastor), and Joseph V. Sullivan (pastor). The church is the scene of the traditional Mass which for many Catholics properly begins the feast of St. Patrick.

Sources: Cathedral archives; Diocesan archives; Joseph Hughes; John Ratterman; Souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee of St. Patrick's Parish: 1869-1944.

Present Day

In an answer to decades of prayer, in October of 2005 the Oratory was erected by Bishop Robert W. Finn as the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese exclusive Latin Mass church and a priest from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was appointed as the pro-rector of the Oratory. The Oratory was given the rights to maintain a sacramental registry and to enroll parishioners as all other parishes in the Diocese are empowered. All sacraments, including: Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage will be given in the traditional rites according to the liturgical books of 1962.