Saint Thomas Parish, Stockton Kansas
The first Catholics to settle in the territory now comprising the Saint Thomas parish, Stockton, were the Thomas McNulty family in the year 1871. The first Masses in the parish were offered in the homes of early parish members by an itinerant priest from Beloit, Reverend John H. Timphaus. At that time there were few Catholics in the central portion of Kansas and very few priests to minister to the scattered Catholic population.
In 1878 the Precious Blood Fathers set out on their missionary tour. Father Schalk took up residence in Stockton.
A Church was to be built in 1878. The principal families in the parish at the time were the McNulty's the Schruben's, the Griebel's and the McKanna's. Most responsible for the church being built was Thomas McNulty. He mortgaged his farm, bought the materials and fed the men during the construction of the building. The first to be baptized in the church was George Schruben, sone of Michael Schruben and Barbara Griebel, in 1879.
During the early years of St. Thomas Parish, Mass was offered every Sunday by resident priests. When it was tended from other parishes, Mass was offered once or twice a month. With the appointment of Father Dickman in 1939, Mass was offered on two Sundays of the month.
As more people began to move to town, the parish grew rapidly. The 24 by 40 foot stone structure was soon filled to capacity at each Mass. By the fall of 1945, the church, including the balcony, was too small to accommodate the people with only one Mass. As no other priest was available, Father Dickman obtained permission in 1946 to offer Masses three times every Sunday.
The necessity of a new structure was realized in the early 1940s. Parishioners were asked to buy war bonds in the name of the church as a nucleus for the building fund. The architect firm of Brinkman & Hagan of Emporia was commissioned in April of 1946. Canonical permission for the erection of a modified English-type church, accommodating 296 people, was given by Bishop Frank A. Thill in October 1948.
Work began on June 1, 1950. Considerable difficulty was experienced in obtaining suitable native stone. It was finally decided to use Benton rock of Ellis County. The cornerstone was blessed on July 8, 1950.
The new church was dedicated October 18, 1951 by Most Reverend Francis A. Thill. In 1966 twenty-five stained glass windows were installed in the church.
The original church was torn down in order to provide a site for a new rectory. Sentimental and historical reasons led to the preservation of the oldest church in Rooks County. Msgr. Bernard Dickman and the men of the parish tore the original church down piece by piece, and a replica of it was reconstructed in the center of the Saint Thomas Catholic Cemetery. The original altar is in the church. Msgr. Dickman blessed the chapel and offered Mass on Memorial Day in 1963.