Immaculate Conception Church parishioners are celebrating a rich history that dates back 150 years.

The parish began in 1866, when a small group of Catholics settled in Union.

To kick off the 150-year anniversary, Archbishop Carlson will be celebrating the 5 p.m. Mass Saturday, Sept. 24. The Mass will take place under the pavilion. A potluck dinner for parishioners will follow the Mass.

The annual Immaculate Conception Fall Festival will be the next day, Sunday, Sept. 25.

At the Fall Festival there will be 150th Anniversary shirts for sale. The usual festivities of the picnic, and a few new ones, will take place as parishioners celebrate the sesquicentennial.

The church’s “Graced by the Past — Graced Into the Future” mission begins Sunday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. Mission services are also planned for Dec. 5-7 at 7 p.m. Each service should last about an hour and 15 minutes and will be followed by a time for fellowship and refreshments in the school cafeteria.

History of the Church

On Dec. 26, 1866, St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Union was born in an existing building located at the corner of State Street and Church Street. Due to a shortage of priests, Mass was offered once a month by diocesan priests from St. John’s-Gildehaus. From 1870-1894, Jesuit priests from St. Francis Borgia Parish, Washington, were placed in charge of the parish.

In 1894, the Franciscans took over care of the parish. The pastor from St. Gertrude’s in Krakow was in charge until 1900. In 1900, the parish was served by the pastor of St. Ann’s in Clover Bottom.

In 1901, the first resident pastor was appointed to reside in Union, the Franciscan Father Damascus Erkins, O.F.M. As the parish was growing, a new church was built at the present site after a generous parishioner donated a block of land. The first Mass was celebrated on May 4, 1902. On June 1, 1902, during the formal dedication of the new church, the parish was rededicated to Our Blessed Mother under the title of her Immaculate Conception.

From that time on St. Mary’s Parish, Union, became Immaculate Conception Parish.

In 1902, the first school began in the church basement with 30 students. A school building was built in 1905. Three Franciscan Sisters from Lafayette, Ind., begin teaching the students.

Immaculate Conception Parish was served by several Franciscan pastors from 1906 until 1948.

In 1948, Archbishop Joseph Ritter appointed the first diocesan priest, Father Lawrence Rost.

In April 1952 groundbreaking took place and the cornerstone was laid for the present church on June 15, 1952.

Building of a new school wing began in the spring of 1961 and the project was completed for the opening of school in 1962. In 1990, ground was broken for another needed addition to the school. By 1991, the new rooms were completed. In 1996, the Parish Center was added to the school.

From the original 12 families in 1866, Immaculate Conception Parish has continued to grow as a community of Catholic Christians.

The parish of 1,000 families is still growing and building upon the rich heritage of the past and committed to God for the future.

Fall Festival

The Immaculate Conception Fall Festival will be Sunday, Sept. 25.

There will be chicken and kettle beef dinners for sale in an air-conditioned dining room. The meals will be served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Carryouts will be available.

The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 10 years of age. Children who are 5 years old or younger will eat for free. Indoor and outdoor seating will be available.

There also will be a bake stand, homemade apple butter, beer garden, book stand, plant stand, kids games, kettle corn, funnel cakes, silent auction and wine garden.

Bingo will begin at 1 p.m. There also will be a pedal tractor pull at 11:15 a.m., and a quilt auction at 3 p.m.

There will be a washer tournament and three-on-three basketball tournament. A paint n’ sip will be held from 11:15 to 1 p.m.

Live music by Just US will be performed from 1-5 p.m., and 5-7 p.m. by Kurt and Roger.

Other events include a “SWAT” team from 1-4 p.m., corncrib digging, games and prizes, balloon twisters, bounce houses and more.