St. Mary’s parish was established in 1910 A frame church was built and sermons were preached in English and German. Father Poettgens was the first priest in the new parish.
During his time as pastor, the parish purchased the W.C. McKenzie Department Store/Hotel for $8,000 and remodeled it for a school staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
By 1950 the parish doubled in size, and under the leadership of Father Aloysius Galowitsch (1947-53), a new high school was built. Between 1953 and 1973 a boys’ dormitory, girls’ dormitory, gymnasium, and a convent for the sisters were built. The new St. Mary’s Church, which was dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, was completed in 1955. In the 80’s a new grade school, boys’ dorm and music department were added and a new rectory was built next to the church.
The School and the parish thrived until the late 80’s when school enrollment started to decline and in 1992 the high school closed. Five years later the elementary school also closed.
The gymnasium and elementary school were sold to help pay off the debt. Those buildings became the home of a women’s prison and a new St. Mary’s “parish identity” began.
The religious education continues through a Faith Formation program which catechizes the Catholic students in grades K-12, as well as adults. An active Altar Guild and Knights of Columbus remain vital components of parish life with the financial support of St. Mary’s School Foundation. Faithful parishioners continue weekly devotions to Our Mother of perpetual Help. The Adoration Chapel is open daily and a Prison Ministry brings hope to the women incarcerated there.
St. Mary’s boasts of having given more religious vocations (27) and priests (13) than any other parish, per capita, to the Diocese of Bismarck and the Church at large.