Eye on Kansas Magazine people link  Image Eye on Kansas Magazine place link  Image Eye on Kansas Magazine things link Image Eye on Kansas Magazine about us  Image Eye on Kansas Magazine contributors link  Image Eye on Kansas Magazine author guidelines  Image Eye on Kansas Magazine audio link  Image Eye on Kansas Magazine photography  link  Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine Top Bar Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine contact us link  Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine NCRPC link  Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine send us a story link  Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to indexes Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to Rural Oasis Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine Blank Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine Blank Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to North Central  Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to Northwest Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to Southwest Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to south central Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to southeast Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to Northeast Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to indexes Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine link to other links of interest Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine previous issue link Image Eye on Kansas Magazine previous story link  Image Eye on Kansas Magazine table of contents  link Image Eye on Kansas Magazine next story link Image Eye on Kansas Magazine nest issue link  Image

Immaculate altar
Photos by Shelby Haag

Faith on the plains: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Leoville

By Shelby Haag

Quietly nestled in a somewhat forgotten region of the plains, the twin bell towers of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church magnificently reach to the sky. Among the miles of spacious fields and level horizon, the grand church proudly stands as a symbol of the hard work, determination and faith of the rural community of Leoville. 

Immaculate from highway

Just off highway 383 between Selden and Dresden in Decatur County, the unincorporated town is home to a mere handful of residents and one grand church, rich in history.

Immaculate angel

According to church records, in the spring of 1885 a group of pioneers who had built their homes in the Leoville area welcomed the celebration of the first Mass in the region by Rev. August Reichert.  By September of that year this group had erected a frame of structure on the church property and on December 8, 1885, dedicated it to the patronage of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Immaculate Pieta

On November 12, 1922, the people of Leoville saw their beloved church go up in flames, the result of a furnace fire during Sunday morning mass.  Men of the parish assisted in carrying out the only three items saved; the sanctuary lamp, Sacred Heart statue and the Pieta. After the fire, only the chimney, bell tower, and brick walls remained.

Immaculate front The broken hearted parishioners were crushed but not disheartened to see their beautiful church, a monument to their many sacrifices, lying in a heap of smoldering embers. They immediately set plans for a larger and more beautiful church.

Under the supervision of the pastor, parishioners labored with great adore. A most significant and unusual part of the labor force was the contribution of the school children. During the noon hour and at recess the children of Leoville’s Catholic school helped clean the old bricks from the destroyed building. Boys used hatchets to clean the mortar away, while the girls stacked and sorted.

Immaculate back of church

The present day church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1923, just one year and 15 days after the fire. The church finished and furnished cost $118,000 despite the meager income of the parishioners, their zeal for the building prompted them to make the necessary sacrifices.

Immaculate outside

While the Immaculate Conception church no longer supports a convent, school, or large number of parishioners, it continues to stand as a testimony to the faith and perseverance of its founders.

Immaculate book of parishioners

The church was built of fine Harvard rug mat brick with a Spanish tile roof. The structure measures 140 feet by 52 feet and boasts twin towers standing 97 feet tall. Its large stained glass windows each depict a scene in the life of Jesus.

 

 

Eye on Kansas Magazine Blank Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine Blank Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine Contact Us link  Image
Last Updated March 5, 2011
Eye on Kansas Magazine Blank Image
Eye on Kansas Magazine Blank Image