The first resident priest arrived in Marshall in 1847, and soon contracted for the building of a church. The building was under roof by 1848, and the first mass was said in 1850 by Father Thomas Ryan of North Arm. Father Ryan was also saying mass in Castle Finn, as property was donated of a church there.
The first church was located at what is now the corner of 10th St. and Locust. It was a tidy little brick church of Gothic design with stained glass windows. Father H.J. Hoven became pastor in October, 1862. He had only been in America for a year, having come from Cologne, Germany. Seeing the need for a larger church, he purchased the city block where the the present church stands, and began the construction of a new church. The project was delayed considerably by the Civil War.
In April, 1867, Father J.A. Mark arrived; another of the German speaking builder priests sent to Marshall. Soon after, the brick work on the church was finished. Fr. Mark and Joseph Forebeck finished the carpenter work, and they also built a rectory and school, and constructed and finished the altars and interior work of all three buildings. The present church was open for mass in the fall of 1869. It was dedicated by Bishop Bates of Alton on October 20, 1872.
In 1876, another German priest arrived at Marshall. Father Charles Kuhlmann came from Muenster Germany, and St. Mary's was his first American assignment. Fr. Kuhlmann added the brick tower to the front of the church, and had a large bell installed inside it. He also opened the parochial school and staffed it with Dominican Sisters, and also began a newspaper, The Church Progress.
Complaints were made by the English speaking Irish families about the use of German priests, and as a result, Fr. Kuhlmann was replaced in 1891 by English speaking Father Maroney. He added the spire and cross to the church tower, giving it basically the look that it has today. He also had the present stained glass window installed. The castoff organ from St. Benedict's in Terre Haute, Indiana was also installed in the spacious choir loft.
Father Ducey arrived in 1900, and made more improvements to the parish. He enlarged the sanctuary by extending the west end of the building, and added the large stained glass depiction of "The Flight From Egypt." New altars of white and gold with marble tops replaced the wooden ones from the 1860's. He also constructed the present sacristy to the church as a winter chapel for daily mass.
By 1915, the old rectory and school were in serious disrepair. Father Wilson oversaw the construction of a new all-brick rectory, complete with a basement. He also had a new steam-heating system installed in the church. Prior to that time, the church had been heated with wood stoves, and the smoke often overcame the worshipers!
Few physical changes were made to the church buildings for many years. The interior of the church was remodeled und ther direction of Monsignor Donahue in 1946. New altars with red velvet hangings were added, and padded kneelers were installed in the pews.
During the mid 1960's, many changes occured resulting from the Second Vatican Council. The side altars were removed and a new altar facing the people was added. The old baptismal font was replaced with a modern one.
Major building changes took place under the direction of Father Jeff Grant, who became pastor in 1987. In 1990, the parish voted to build a parish hall, and it was completed and dedicated on November 24, 1991. It has since been used for both parish and community activities since.
Plans for another renovation of the church were being made when disaster struck the parish on May 3, 2001. Fire almost totally destroyed the rectory. The parish voted to build a new office building with an attached rectory, rather than repair the old one.
The construction of the new facility coincided with renovations on the church, and St. Mary's was rededicated on July 11, 2003, by Bishop George Lucas.
Father Chris Brey continued improvements on the church property during his duty as pastor. A recent addition has been new landscaping, including St. Joseph's garden. In 2008, Fr. Brey was reassigned, and Father Michael Haag became our pastor at that time until June 2015. Fr. Augustine Koomson became our current pastor starting in July 2015 and continues to lead our parish to new growth and challenges, as we follow our Lord, Jesus Christ.