St. Benedict Mission, Burlington Junction to St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Tarkio Amalgamation

Decree Amalgamating Mission of Saint Benedict Mission, Burlington Junction to Saint Paul the Apostle Parish, Tarkio


  1. The Mission of St. Benedict began existence as a small Mass station established in the new township of Burlington Junction (the crossroads of the then Burlington Railroad with the Wabash Railroad) by the Benedictine monks of Conception Abbey in 1880. The ten or twelve Catholic families who lived in the area banded together and secured two lots for the building of a twenty-two feet by thirty-six feet Church.  The new church was dedicated on 25 April 1880.  “The new church was dedicated under the title St. Placid, according to a history found at Conception Abbey.  However, that claim is disputed.  Some think that the church bell was dedicated to St. Placid and the church to St. Benedict, from the beginning (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 16)
  2. “Prior to having their own church, the people would gather for Mass at someone’s home when a traveling monk would pass through, usually once a month on a Saturday. At first the monks came from Maryville, which was the closest parish about 30 miles away, but later they would come directly from the Abbey.  On occasion the priest from Tarkio would come over to offer Mass.”  (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 16)
  3. The first church was destroyed by a tornado on July 13, 1883. A second church was dedicated in August 1883 and remained in use until a January 1, 1921, dedication—specifically under the title of St. Benedict—of the third church, a former sixty feet by eighty feet former Presbyterian church, which had been purchased the previous year.  (cf., This Far By Faith, “Vol. II: The Facts, 16)   A local history guide notes that the “first use of the name of [the] church: 1893: St. Benedict but from 1898 to 1901 the church was called St. Placidus.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 17)
  4. “Beginning in 1900 mass was offered twice a month on Saturday. It was only in 1919 that Mass was offered every Sunday.” (This Far By Faith, “Vol. II: The Facts, 16)
  5. “In 1934 there were 74 families. In the diocesan census of 1959, 72 children, 20 of whom were of grade school age and six of high school or college age, were counted.  There were 61 adult Catholics.  In 1947 the parish was returned to the diocesan clergy and was a mission of Tarkio.  For a period of time (1948-1960) it was a mission of St. Patrick Parish in Maryville.  Then it was again a mission of Tarkio.  In 1980 the parish was re-entrusted to the Benedictines.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 16; cf. 17)
  6. On 18 April 1964, the fourth church “was dedicated. The Catholic Church Extension Society contributed $10,000 toward the erection of the building.”  The church can accommodate 300 persons and was built by the Gehring Construction Company of Atchison, Kansas and interiorly designed by Father Sylvester Hoppe. (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 16)
  7. In 1947, the Mission of St. Benedict was attended from Tarkio with the priest called an Administrator; then in 1949, attended from St. Patrick’s Parish, Maryville, but reverting to an administrator, Reverend Joseph J. O’Rourke, in 1955 to the present when the parish sacramental and administrative needs were attended from Tarkio once again. (cf., This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 17; diocesan archives)
  8. The mission suffered a precipitous decline in the number of active members in the past 30 years.
    1. The number of registered households declined by over 50% from 39 in 1995 to 18 in 2022.
    2. Average Sunday Mass attendance likewise declined from 58 in 1995 to 21 in 2022.
    3. There have been only 5 infant Baptisms, 3 first Communions, 5 Confirmations, and no Marriages in the period 2016-22. There have been 4 deaths in the same period.
    4. The number of adult parishioners has declined from 86 in 1995 to 31 in 2022.
    5. The number of children (age 0 to 17) has declined from 20 in 1995 to 8 in 2022.

In the six years of 2016-2022 parish/mission spirituality report submission by the Mission of Saint Benedict, there were merely five infant baptism, three youth first communions, five youth confirmations, zero youth or adult catechumens or candidates for full communion.  Additionally, five elementary youth were in a parish school of religion with just one enrolled in a similar high school program.  No marriages were recorded though four deaths were.

  1. Registered Catholic households and average Mass attendance as recorded in September respectively were: 18 and 19 for 2016-2017; 18 and 23 for 2017-2018; 16 and 26 for 2018-2019; 15 and 25 for 2019-2020; 16 and 22 for 2020-2021; and 18 and 21 for 2021-2022.
  2. Mission income has increased modestly in the period from 2003 to 2022: total income was $23,237 in 2003, $26,745 in 2022.  Expenses have also increased.  The mission ran a deficit in fiscal years 2017 and 2022.  The mission cannot support a priest by itself.  The current pastor of the mission must rely on financial support from the parish of St. Paul in Tarkio as well as three parishes in St. Joseph.
  3. The current Pastor of St Paul the Apostle Parish likewise became the Pastor of the Mission of St Benedict on July 1, 2021.
  4. Following the diocesan-wide pastoral planning process throughout 2018 that resulted in in a multiple year examination process addressing healing our family, using resources wisely and growing God’s family under the diocesan vision umbrella of One Family: Restored in Christ, Equipped for Mission, a study of deaneries IX, X, and part of XII began in February 2023. The study was undertaken of community demographics, parish data, interviews of pastors, parish staff, and parish steering committees prior to additional parish town hall gatherings and reception of input (Code of Canon Law, cc. 50, 127, 515, §2).
  5. Having considered the law and the facts, the undersigned Diocesan Bishop hereby issues this Decree.


Canon 515, §2:  It is only for the diocesan bishop to erect, suppress, or alter parishes.  He is neither to erect, suppress, nor alter notably parishes, unless he has heard the presbyteral council.


  1. Willingly encouraging everything in our powers to provide more suitably for the good of souls;
  2. And having considered the law and the facts;
  3. And having heard, in accordance with canon 50, all those whose rights might be injured by means of a meeting of the study consultant with the pastor and parish leaders on March 4, April 29, May 20 and June 10, 2023; and meetings of the Mission of St. Benedict Parish pastor and steering committee with special all parishioners meetings on April 15 and May 2, 2023;
  4. And having heard that no donors of property or legacy were identified for the Mission of Saint Benedict;
  5. And having heard the Presbyteral Council, in accordance with canon 515, §2 on June 26, 2023;
  6. And having determined that the good of souls requires it;
  7. I have determined it necessary and proper that the Mission of Saint Benedict, Burlington Junction, and Saint Paul the Apostle Parish, Tarkio, be united and amalgamated, and that from this extinctive-union and amalgamation, Saint Paul the Apostle Parish retain the name.

The reasons motivating this decision are as follows:

The number of registered and/or practicing Catholics at the Mission of St. Benedict Parish, like much of the deanery region, continued significant decline for the past three decades.  Likewise, there has been significant decline in offering sufficient financial support relative to expenses as well as evangelizing and sacramental life to the faith community—particularly note numbers 8-10 above.  The mission demonstrates increasing inability to sustain the services of a priest himself or any staff as well as of the necessary human and capital resources even to offer basic ministries, services and engagement to the faithful.   Additionally, the physical driving distance is only 18 miles between the church sites of the Mission of Saint Benedict and Saint Paul the Apostle Parish, of which 17 miles are readily traversed by highway.  By consolidating efforts the evangelizing opportunities for the region and the faith life of the same parishioners can become enhanced and better served by combination into a larger community.

I, the undersigned Bishop of Kansas City – St. Joseph, exercising my ordinary power and in virtue of canon 515, §2, do hereby decree that the Mission of Saint Benedict, Burlington Junction, with all the rights, obligations, and privileges accorded it by law, be and is hereto united to and amalgamated with Saint Paul the Apostle Parish, Tarkio.

The new Parish shall comprise the territory of the extinct Mission of Saint Benedict as well as the current territory of Saint Paul the Apostle Parish.  St. Paul the Apostle Parish remains in Deanery X.

The intentions of the founders and donors regarding the temporal goods and patrimonial rights proper to the extinct Mission of Saint Benedict must be respected.  In addition, the patrimonial goods, rights and obligations of the extinct Mission of Saint Benedict must be defined and allocated in accordance with the norm of law (cc. 121-122).

All the parish and sacramental records of the Mission of Saint Benedict are to be properly preserved and safeguarded by the Archives of the Diocese of Kansas City – Saint Joseph in accordance with the norm of particular law.

This Decree is to be effective at the end of the day on April 14, 2024.

This Decree is to be communicated to the Pastor of the parish and mission concerned (c. 532), who is the canonical representative of the parish and mission whose boundaries have been adjusted and to all interested persons, according to the norm of law.  This Decree may be challenged within the peremptory time limit of ten days from the legitimate notification of the Decree in accordance with the norm of law (c. 1734, §2).

Given in the Chancery of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph This 23rd day of January 2024

Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Jr.
Bishop of Kansas City – St. Joseph

Very Reverend Kenneth A. Riley
Vicar General – Chancellor


Decree Amalgamating Saint Benedict Mission, Burlington Junction to St. Paul the Apostle, Tarkio (PDF)

LEARN MORE: The complete Pastoral Plan for Deaneries IX, X and partial XII

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