About St. Mary Parish
Administrator: Rev. Michael Arockiam
Deacon Randy Riesenberger
Business Manager: Jane Schindler
Music Director: Maryann Totsch
Ministry to Nursing Home/Homebound: Ann Niebur
Trustees: Jaimie Maitret and John Bassler
Chair of the Pastoral Council: Ann Niebur
In April 1893, the Reverend August J. Sauer was charged by Bishop John Janssen, the first Bishop of Belleville, to organize a new parish in the West end of Belleville. The “West end” in 1893 extended from 6th Street to Edgemont. In 1894, there were two parishes in Belleville, St. Peter Cathedral was known as the German parish while St. Luke’s was called the English parish. On Tuesday, January 16, 1894, the Church was solemnly dedicated to the worship of Almighty God under the title of “Mary, our Lady of Good Counsel." St. Mary’s consisted at that time of sixty-nine families, none of whom spoke English as their primary language.
By the time Fr. Sauer was replaced as Pastor in 1909 by Father Anton Pieke, the church boasted steam heat (1901), a new convent for the sisters teaching in the school (1903), and new frescoes (1904). Father Frederic Beuckman became the Pastor in 1910. The beautiful windows of St. Mary’s were installed between 1924 and 1927. A bell tower was also added during this period.
In September 1934, Bishop Althoff appointed Reverend (later Monsignor) Joseph J. Orlet as pastor of St. Mary. Father Orlet remained as pastor for the next 39 years. During this time, a number of significant additions were made to the church, along with a new convent and rectory. When Monsignor Orlet’s health began to fail in 1973, Father Ray Orlet was appointed as pastor. In 1977, changes were made to the sanctuary to reflect the changes in the liturgy brought about by the Second Vatican council. Fr. Ray became ill in the early 1980’s and died in 1984 after battling cancer.
Fr. Harry Jerome became the pastor in 1984 and served until 1987. During this time, work was begun to renovate, repair, and expand the organ. Father James Blazine was appointed as Pastor in 1987. The parish started planning a major renovation to the Church making many needed repairs (roof, windows, asbestos removal), as well as creating the simple and elegant sanctuary we have to this day.
Father (later Monsignor) John Myler was appointed as pastor in 1999 and led the parish through a successful capital campaign for many needed repairs. Monsignor William McGhee succeeded as Msgr. Myler as pastor in 2007. Reverend Christopher Anyanwu was assigned to work with Monsignor McGhee before being named as Administrator in July of 2012. The current Administrator, Reverend Michael Arockiam succeeded Fr. Christopher in August 2021.
St. Mary’s has had a long and fine tradition of Catholic education since the beginning of the parish, at times having as many as 900 children in the school. As the demographics of the parish changed over the past few decades, a number of changes have occurred. By the early 2000’s the number of students had decreased to the point that a new structure, St. Mary’s Academy, was introduced. When this did not prove to be financially successful, the decision was made to join with St. Augustine School to form St Mary-St. Augustine (SMSA) school. In 2015, the decision was made to combine (SMSA) with Cathedral grade school to form Notre Dame Academy.
Choirs and Musicians
Servers (adults and young people)
Ushers/Ministers of Hospitality
Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Wednesday Work Crew
Parish Health Ministry
Fish Fry Crew
+CBAY – Belleville Area Youth
Adult Helpers (Child Protection Compliant)
If you are interested in participating in any of these ministries, please contact Jane Schindler at 618-233-2391 and she will put you in touch with the appropriate Ministry leader.