On June 29, 1955, Bishop Joseph H. Albers, of the Diocese of Lansing, established St. Monica Parish in Kalamazoo, and on July 2, 1955, Fr. Nadrach was appointed pastor. He left his position as assistant at St. Joseph Parish, Kalamazoo, and set about forming a new Christian Community.
He obtained a loan from the Lansing Diocese (soon repaid) and on August 1, 1955, with the help of several members of the new parish, located and purchased seven acres of land on W. Kilgore Rd. Space was rented below a realtor’s office at Buchanan St. and S. Westnedge and set up as a chapel. There, Father Nadrach said Masses daily. His Sunday Masses were said with the aid of a portable altar and folding chairs in the rented gymnasium of South Westnedge School.
A fund drive was launched among the 350 families then in the parish, and with the $156,000 thus raised, groundbreaking ceremonies for St. Monica Church were held on July 29, 1956. Many men in the parish joined together to lay floor tiles, do interior painting, and do the cement work outside in order to keep construction costs down. The first Mass in the newly completed church was said on Easter Sunday, 1957, and on May 12, the church was dedicated.
The first rectory, a small white frame house, was purchased on December 9, 1956. It was located just west of the circle drive in the front of the church. This house was later torn down when the current rectory was built. In 1958 the parish purchased a 100-year old house located on Milham Road. The house was cautiously maneuvered on the mile-long journey down South Westnedge. Eight hours later the house was settled in it’s new site on the grounds of St. Monica (where the current Community Building is located). This old mansion became the convent, and three Sisters of St. Joseph occupied it for the first time on August 22, 1958.
In September 1958, a school began with three grades. Classes were held in the area that is now the wooden pew section and “Cry Room” in the back of the Church. The classrooms were sectioned off with folding walls. In February, 1960, the present St. Monica School was completed, opening up classes in grades 1-8. The Rectory at the west end of the property was built in 1965. A new garage was added in 1975, and the original garage was converted to meeting rooms.
Did You Know?: In 1958, singer Pat Boone helped raise around $6,000.00 for the building of our church and future school, performing two shows at the old Kalamazoo Central High School.