Parish History

History of Sts. Peter and Paul Church
Sts. Peter and Paul Parish history began eleven years after Seneca had been chosen as the town site. The few Catholics that lived in or near Seneca attended Mass at St. Mary’s Church on Wildcat Creek. Father P. Pirmine M. Koumley, O.S.B., of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, came occasionally and by 1867 came monthly to say mass there. A parishioner, Matthias Stein had moved to Seneca to open a business, and Fr. Pirmine celebrated Mass in Mr. Stein’s home for the 10 Catholic families in or near Seneca. Rt. Reverend Bishop J.B. Miege, S.J. saw the need to build a church in Seneca and requested that Mr. Stein purchase suitable property for this purpose.

In April 1860, the District school house (25 x 50), and the entire block, was put up for sale. Mr. Stein requested Fr. Pirmine to obtain permission from the Prior, Louis M. Fink, O.S.B. to purchase the school house. Permission being granted, Mr. Stein bought the house and entire block for the sum of $1,000. Mr. Stein collected money from Catholics in and near Seneca who joyfully contributed. Even the Protestants in Seneca looked with great favor upon the efforts of the Catholics and assisted them in money donations. The deed for the church and block was made out in the name of St. Benedict’s College, Atchison, Ks. In June, the remodeling of the school for a church and the building of an altar began.

First services were held in the church, July 11, 1869, on the feast of the Solemn Commemoration of St. Benedict. Prior, P. Louis Fink, blessed the church, which was named Sts. Peter and Paul. Father Pirmine sang High Mass, and Mr. Daniel Huhn, teacher, played the organ, which was loaned by Mr. Stein. An English sermon was preached because there were many non-catholics present. Services were held in Seneca on the Second Sunday in September and November.

Towards the end of 1860 and during 1870, many Catholics moved to Seneca from all parts of the union. The Prior published many articles in the newspapers of the country, encouraging people to move to Seneca. So successful were his efforts that by 1871, the parish numbered over 80 families.