Parish History

Following the World’s Fair in St. Louis there was a rapid growth in the St. Louis area. This was reflected in many new Catholic parishes established at that time. One was St. Andrew. Archbishop John Glennon appointed Father Albert Mayer to be the first Pastor of a parish between the River Des Peres and Jefferson Barracks on December 24, 1904. Neighboring parishes were St. Boniface and Our Lady of the Assumption. The first Mass for the people was said February 5, 1905. There were 200 families at that time. Theodore Roosevelt was the President, and there were two Governors of Missouri that year, Alexander Dockery and Joseph Folk. The Pope was Pius X, the last Pope so far to be given the title of Saint.

The Parish has had nine pastors: Father Mayer was followed by Father James Huber in 1938, Father Herbert Melies in 1953, Father Bernard Suellentrop in 1970, Father Robert Herman in 1982, Father Edward Hilgeman in 1988, and Father Joseph Weber in 2001, Father. Eugene Selzer in 2004, and Father Vic Barnhart in 2009. In 2011 Archbishop Robert Carlson established a new structural administration for Saint Andrew. Deacon C. Allen Boedeker was named the pastoral administrator answering to Monsignor James Telthorst, the dean of the South County parishes. Along with Deacon Boedeker, his pastoral associate Mrs. Mary Boedeker, and his business manager Mrs. Karen Wood form the pastoral team that leads Saint Andrew today. The Archbishop assigns priests to carry out the sacramental duties that arise at Saint Andrew. The first of these sacramental ministers was Fr. Aaron Arce, O.P. who served for 1 ½ years until his death in 2012. Fr. Abe Arganiosa, O.P. Miss. C.R.S. began serving the parish in 2013. In June 2015 he was transferred. Currently, the presbyteral needs of St. Andrew are supplied by the priests from Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.

During its existence, the parishioners have had to deal with two World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and other military actions; the Great Depression of the Thirties, storm damage, including storms of April 1974, and April 1996, and with floods. The older parishioners, until recently, talk about the great flood of 1973. Then came the flood of 1993, that caused the Federal Government to buy out nearly a hundred homes in St. Andrew Parish. Another flood in 1995 later covered much of the same area. A County Park has since been constructed on their land.

A priority at St. Andrew has always been the spiritual formation of the parishioners. Daily Masses, regular times for the Sacrament of Penance, periodic Missions, yearly Retreats, adult instruction programs, RCIA programs, and religious education such as PSR programs and Vacation Bible School help us to achieve this mission.

Some organizations have this purpose as a priority. At the beginning, in 1905, the Married Ladies Sodality was organized, and later became the St. Anne Sodality in 1951. For the men, the Holy Name Society was chartered in March of 1940. The Legion of Mary was formed here in January of 1938, was disbanded for a time, but has resumed its work in 1988. It attempts to give example to our parishioners in the work of evangelization. In recent years there has also been a very active Pro-Life Committee. In January of 1994, St. Andrew began the practice of offering a Eucharistic Day of Adoration each month on Thursday before First Friday. Later, in October 1998, this devotion was extended to every Thursday.

Since the Mass is at the very center of our Catholic Faith, it is important that it be celebrated well. In different ways, two of the greatest Councils of the Church, that of Trent in the sixteenth century, and of Vatican II in our own times, emphasized that. Our Church building has a large enough sanctuary to provide space to enhance the ceremonies. The music is a vital element here. There has been a succession of well trained musicians to lead us. The Liturgical Committee gives planning and direction to the liturgy, and Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and ushers perform necessary functions. The Altar Society helps to keep the church clean, and in order.

In the Catholic Church, during the period of these years, Vatican City became an independent Country in 1929, and the Catholic population grew steadily in the United States, largely due to immigration. But the biggest event was the General Council of Vatican II in the 1960’s. This led to revisions in the liturgy, including the use of the vernacular, emphasis placed on the ecumenical movement among Christian denominations, and the periodic Synods bringing together the Pope with Bishops from different parts of the world. Political independence gave the Popes the freedom to travel to other parts of the world, and that freedom has been especially used by our present Pope, John Paul II. He has visited our country several times, one time to come to Denver, Colorado, for the World Youth Day in August of 1993, the last time, in October of 1995, to address the United Nations in New York, and in January of 1999, to our own St. Louis.

Since its beginning, a school has been important to the parish. St. Andrew School opened January 2, 1906 with 185 students being taught by 4 Notre Dame Sisters. In just two years, crowded conditions forced the building of a larger school. There were some years when the enrollment was over 600 students. In the 1930’s a high school was opened for the parish students for a short time. More recently, a preschool opened in September of 1993, and remains open until the present time. In 1995, St. Boniface School merged with St. Andrew School, bringing together students from the three parishes of St. Andrew, St. Boniface, and Sts. Mary and Joseph. St. Andrew School closed in May, 2003.

When Father Selzer arrived at Saint Andrew in 2009, he introduced the parish community to the Focolare movement of the Catholic Church. This lay-led organization—the largest movement of the Catholic Church—focuses on the collective spirituality of its members. Saint Andrew embraced its spirituality and began a special apostolate of reaching out to others within and outside its community with a hospitality emphasizing a ministry of love and unity. Soon people who joined the parish at weekend Masses began to comment on how kind and welcoming the parish faith community was to everyone who joined them. From 2009 to 2015 the Archdiocese established Saint Andrew as the home of its diocesan ministry to the deaf. Although its history has been in some ways traditional like many of the other parishes in the Archdiocese, Saint Andrew also finds itself establishing new paths and looks forward to a very bright future.