IN 1881 . . .
In 1881, God gave a small group of miners a mission to bring to the mountains of Park City the world’s greatest treasure: the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, and the Faith and Charity that flow from Him. That year, three years before the incorporation of Park City as a town, St. Mary of the Assumption Parish was founded.
The original small wood framed church was built in 1882, but burned to the ground a year later. In 1884, a new church was begun and completed. This one was of stone and still stands today as Utah's Oldest Catholic Church. It is our Old Town Chapel.
For the miners, the prominence of that Church building atop of Park Avenue became the last bit of home they would see as they climbed to the mine entrances and descended into the earth. It was the beacon that drew them home at the end of a long day. And, in times of disaster it was the gathering place for countless worried wives and families.
In the early 1900’s an adjacent building of stone was constructed as a school and classes were taught by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. But by the Great Depression, the school closed as the mines themselves were closing and the town population waned. However, the parish remained open.
In the 1950’s, however, fire again struck the church; this time destroying the roof and much of the interior. The town was again in depression, the mines largely closed, and Park City’s population small. It seemed the will of the Bishop of Salt Lake City that St. Mary's parish be closed. However, the unemployed miners of St. Mary's quickly rebuilt the roof, restored the Church building, and convinced the Bishop to keep St. Mary's open, even as the mining industry continued to dwindle.
A NEW CHURCH
By 1960’s, the advent of the ski industry revitalized the town. Over the next three decades, the parish had grown so large, the tourists and visitors to the town had increased so much, that the original little church was no longer adequate for the large community. A new Church building was needed. However, the Old Town Chapel, as it is now affectionately called, remains open daily for all to visit, pray at, and attend Mass. It is a special and revered establishment of the Old Town Community, a precious reminder of our roots, and a landmark for our town.
In 1991, Jim and Sally Ivers donated land in the meadow of Park City’s entry corridor for a new church. In 1997, the new church was completed and dedicated on August 15th, the feast of St. Mary of the Assumption. In 2001, the new Parish Center was built. Today, St. Mary's Church is a landmark of Park City’s entry corridor – its lofty design and incredible setting is complemented by wonderful views of the mountains from within the church and center. Furthermore, the Church building and Parish Center are a beacon of the greater community, utilized by Park City's best charitable programs to serve those most in need, and host to beautiful artistic events, such as the regular performances by the Utah Symphony.
ST. MARY'S TODAY
Today, God’s mission for St. Mary’s has spread from the streets of Old Town Park City, to the meadows of White Pine Canyon, to the Heber Valley and beyond. Our St. Lawrence Mission Church and Thrift Store in Heber City continue to thrive and grow. Our food bank in Old Town Park City helps those most in need, and we partner with Park City's finest nonprofit and charitable organizations like the Peace House, Christian Center, Holy Cross Ministries, AA, Park City Community Foundation, Windrider Forum, the Gabriel Project and more to serve the greater community. Our Church provides to thousands of parishioners and visitors the sacrifice of the Mass, the sacraments, and beautiful places to pray, grow, and serve.
St. Mary’s continues to seek to evangelize, catechize, give back in Charity, and enrich the community through the Catholic Faith and its intellectual, artistic, and cultural traditions. To bring all the treasure of Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls, and the Greater Glory of God!