History

By 1890, Fox Township’s population was increasing rapidly due to the development of the coal mines and the railroads which supported them. Centreville, which was mainly comprised of German Catholics and developing into the commercial hub of the township, was especially growing. The members of St. Boniface Parish and Pastor Rev. Benjamin Raycroft recognized the need for a larger church to replace the forty year old wooden structure. Bids were accepted in March of 1893 and a contract awarded one month later.

Construction began shortly thereafter with parishioners and others donating their labor to dig the foundation. Lumber was collected, with much of the milling and materials donated by local mills. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop Mullen on July 2, 1893. The frame was constructed and brickwork laid during the summer and fall, again with much skilled and unskilled volunteer labor. The outside of the church was completed by early December and a fair held inside the edifice during the week of Christmas to raise money for the structure. The fair included a craft sale, games of chance, food sales, and a raffle.

The original pews were built in St. Marys and could seat 530. The windows were donated by parish organizations and individuals and included a glass inset with the name of the donor; however, those names were lost when the windows were refurbished in the mid-20th Century. A family donated the Stations of the Cross, though their name is also lost to history.

Seeing the need for repair and improvement just seventy years later, the parish again took up the mantle left by their ancestors. The present steeple was installed in 1966 to replace the original which was torn down perhaps as early as the 1920s. The sanctuary and altars were replaced to comply with the emerging vision of Vatican II. The present configuration of four altars reflects the sensibilities of the time: priests often said separate private Masses at the same time, at public masses he had the option of facing the people, and the church unnecessarily retained a modified high altar.

Updates and additions have been made to the church over the years. We always acknowledge that the generosity of the parishioners made these developments possible. The church building is a dynamic entity imbued with the life its people bring to it. God comes to us every time we celebrate a sacrament or a ritual of the Church. Much has changed in the preceding years, but when you walk into our church today the murals are what your ancestors saw. The tolling of the bell today is the same sound the community heard in 1894. The lines of the walls and ceiling still direct our minds and hearts toward God.

The structure and our congregation remain solid and strong. The building and the Mass have changed somewhat in their outward appearance, but the heart and soul of both remain constant. Our present life together as a Catholic family forms the necessary foundation for the future life of the parish.