It all started on a day in late September, 1878, when a lone horseman rode up to the homestead of the Edward McKenna family, about eight miles southwest of the present site of Kingman, Kansas, and informed them that he was a Catholic priest who would be saying mass in the area in the next few days. The place chosen for this was the home of the O’Neil family, located about three miles east of the present site of Penalosa. According to the best available information, this was to be the first Mass offered in what is now Kingman County.
In 1885, the parish of St. Patrick's was "officially" founded and in 1887 the first church was completed. It was destroyed that same year in a storm, and the second church was built in 1888. In 1902, the parish bought a house to serve as a rectory for the local priest. Also a newer, larger church was constructed beginning in 1910 and was completed with dedication by Bishop John J. Hennessey on November 12, 1912.
Through the years as the parish and city grew and prospered, St. Patrick’s parish was still not considered a complete plant. In accord with the Catholic Church’s teaching, that providing a Catholic education is one of the Churches primary duties, Father William Chawke undertook the building of the first parochial school in St. Patrick’s parish. Plans were drawn and the contract was given to two parishioners, Joe and Cornelius Thissen. The modern brick building was erected at the cost of around $35,000, and included a full basement, four classrooms and a gym-auditorium. On October 15, 1930, Bishop Schwertner dedicated the new building.
The Sisters of St. Joseph, whose mother house is in Wichita, were engaged to teach in the new school. Sister Mary Isabella was the first principal, and she and a companion Sister taught 40 children of the parish in two rooms of the new school when the term started in the fall of 1930. Two teachers and classrooms were adequate until the fall of 1934 when an increased enrollment necessitated the addition of another teacher. By the fall of 1936, the enrollment had increased to 83 students.
Through many years, enrollment and the city of Kingman continued to grow. In 1961, plans had been made to expand the school plant. At the spring pre-enrollment, it was obvious that more classroom space would be needed to accommodate growing student numbers. The parish expressed their interest in building an addition to the school to meet the long range plans of the parish. With Bishop Carroll’s approval, plans were drawn and the new school addition was begun in October, 1962. The new addition would blend into the existing building and add four new classrooms, library, offices, rest rooms, boiler room and gymnasium, to the existing school facilities at a cost of $165,000.
The parish and school were flourishing. Then, on July 2, 1962 there was a fire in the church that caused significant damage, however the structure itself was saved. Later, in 1993 a renovation of the interior of the church began with a marble altar being added as well as air conditioning and an expansion of the choir loft. In 1994 an Adoration Chapel was added. Then, in December 2004 yet another fire struck this community, this time causing extensive damage in the 1962 wing of the school building. There was also a great need to rebuild the 1930’s school building due to age and the need to be updated to meet needs of all students. In 2006, discussions started, to replace the 1930’s building with a state of the art school. In 2008 demolition of the old school building began. The parish rectory was autioned and moved to Douglas Street to make more room for parish offices and a larger school building. Sauwerwein Construction was granted the bid for construction of the new school and Bishop Michael Jackels, in February of 2010, dedicated the new building. The total cost of the project was nearly 6 million dollars, and the debt from this project was paid in full in February of 2014.
St. Patrick Parish and School have been blessed in so many ways throughout the last 150 years. May God continue to abundantly bless all that we do!