St. Cyril Parish, Sugar Creek to St. Mary Parish, Independence Amalgamation

Decree Amalgamating Saint Cyril Parish, Sugar Creek to Saint Mary Parish, Independence


  1. The Standard Oil Company of Indiana bought a large tract of land along the Missouri River at Sugar Creek in the early 1900s and transferred families in 1904, including 10 Catholic families of Croatian and Slovakian descent, from their Whiting, Indiana, plant to Sugar Creek. “For about the 10 years they attended Mass at St. Mary Church in Independence or at St. Ann Church in Fairmount, a distance of two and one half miles either way.  If they were lucky they might be able to get to Kansas City, KS, and ‘Strawberry Hill’ occasionally to hear a sermon in their native language.  It might be noted that St. Cyril Parish was never a national parish and sermons were never given in Croatian or Slovak.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 400)
  2. “On 25 September 1908, Bishop John J. Hogan received from the Sugar Creek Townsite Company (Standard Oil) Lots 1-5, Block 13, Sugar Creek Townsite. The church was built on this property.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 400)
  3. “In June 1914, Fr. Andrew Clohessy, pastor of St. Mary Parish, was instructed to begin church services for the people. This became the responsibility of the associate pastor, Fr. John Whelan” prior to the “15 November 1920 [when] the town of Sugar Creek was incorporated.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 401)
  4. “About 1925 plans were drawn up to building a brick and stone church, semi-Gothic in design. The church, 42’ x70’, was projected to cost $40,000.  It was designed by Brinkman and Hagan of Emporia, KS.  The new church was built on a new foundation much larger and surrounding the old foundation.  When the new church was completed to a certain point the old basement church was removed.  The cornerstone was laid 21 October 1926, and it was dedicated 21 August 1927.  After the new church was built the number of Masses was increased to two every Sunday.  In 1993 Fr. Smith was appointed resident pastor.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 401)
  5. “In 1934 there were 108 families comprised of 541 Catholics. There were 145 children of grade school age and 22 in high school or college.  In the diocesan census of 1959, 332 children were found 157 of whom were of grade school age and 59 were in high school or college.  There were 481 Catholic adults.  In 1984 there were 382 Catholics in the parish living in 181 households.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 401)
  6. “In 1934 Croatian Catholic Union Lodge No. 77 was founded….This organization also was for the purpose of providing death and sick benefits to members. Members were to pledge to observe their duties as Catholics and to uphold the independence of the United States.  Lodge 77 sponsored many folk dances in Sugar Creek over the years.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 401)
  7. “In June 1961, the Conventual Franciscan Fathers of Lake Forest, IL., took over the parish. They remained until 1979.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 402)
  8. “In 1974 extensive repairs were made on the church amounting to $181,000. The wooden floor was replaced with concrete.  The pews were refinished and a new altar was installed in the sanctuary facing the people.  Everything else in the sanctuary was removed at this time.  A new pipe organ was installed some time later.  The church was rededicated on 6 October 1974.  On 1 November 1982, the church was dedicated again after an interior renovation.”  (This Far By Faith, Vol. II: The Facts, 402)
  9. “On 19 May 1991 parishioners and Bishop John J. Sullivan gathering in the parish church to begin the celebration of the diamond jubilee of the parish….For the occasion, a ‘Parish Statement’ was drawn up, which read:

We, the family of St. Cyril’s Parish, are a close-knit faith community, sharing with others our traditions and cultural richness from our Eastern European heritage.

We stand for loyalty to the Church, strong family traditions, and appreciation for the value of hard work, respect for life, the survival of our own community church, and greater realization of God as revealed through scripture, sacraments, liturgy and prayer.

We are striving to bring about personal faith development for a fuller recognition of our explicit commitment to living the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  We are challenged to minister this life to and with others.”

 (This Far By Faith, Vol. III: Supplement 1992-2002, 355)

  1. “For many years the parish sponsored the Slavic Festival in June. Today, it is sponsored by the city of Sugar Creek, but many involved in it are from the parish.  Many people from the parish work in the city government.  J. (Rudy) Roper, a member of the parish, was Mayor of Sugar Creek for 40 years, longer than any other mayor in the State.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. III: Supplement 1992-2002, 356)
  2. “The parish is quite aware of the problems facing the contemporary church [in 2003]. They are very intent on working with the Diocese to maintain their identity as a parish in the future.” (This Far By Faith, Vol. III: Supplement 1992-2002, 356)
  3. “Some Parish Statistics January 2003: registered households: 106; All Registered Parishioners: 205; Parishioners age 0-17: 22; Parishioners age 18-99: 183.”   (This Far By Faith, Vol. III: Supplement 1992-2002, 356)
  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 I, II and XII began in July 2021. 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. In the years 2015-2020 registered by St. Cyril Parish for the annual spirituality report submission: there were no infant baptisms, one youth first communion, no youth confirmations or catechumens, 2 adult candidates, no marriages, 9 deaths with zero elementary or high school youth in a parish school of religion. (Pastoral Plan: Deaneries 1, 2 and 11, May 2022, page 21)
  6. Registered Catholic households and average Mass attendance were recorded respectively as 81 and 85 in 2015-16; 67 and 44 in 2016-17; 86 and 50 in 2017-18; 76 and 50 in 2018-19; and 66 [households] and 45 [@ Mass] in 2019-20. The number of registered parish households as of January 1, 2021 is 56. (Pastoral Plan:  Deaneries 1, 2 and 11, May 2022, page 21)
  7. Cyril Parish suffered a precipitous decline in the number of members and level of sacramental activity in the past twenty years.
    1. The number of registered households in the parish declined from 106 in 2003 to 98 in 2012 to 56 in 2021.
    2. Average Mass attendance has markedly diminished. In 2000, average attendance was 170; in 2011, it was 91; in 2020, it was 45.
    3. In 2000, there 13 baptisms of children and infants, 1 youth/adult. In the period 2009-2012, there were only 4 baptisms of children and infants, 6 of youth/adults.  In the period 2015-20, there were zero baptisms.
    4. In 2000 there were 4 first communions, but none in the period 2009-12, and only one in the period 2015-20.
    5. There were 2 marriages in 2000; 3 in the period 2009-2012; none in the period 2015-20.
    6. In the period 2015-20, there were no Baptisms, no Marriages, one youth first Communion, no youth Confirmations, two adult candidates (baptized non-Catholics seeking to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church), and no elementary or high school youth in the parish school of religion. In the same period, there were nine deaths.
    7. Average Mass attendance fell in the period 2016-20 from 85 in the year 2016 to 44 in the year 2017, 50 in 2018, 50 in 2019, and 45 in the year 2020.
  8. The current Parochial Administrator of St Mary Parish likewise became the Parochial Administrator of St. Cyril Parish on July 1, 2022.
  9. 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 Parochial Administrator and parish leaders on October 20, November 21, and December 2, 2021, and January 12, March 23 and April 27, 2023; and meetings of the St. Cyril Parish Parochial Administrator and steering committee with special all-parishioners meetings on November 21, 2021 and March 9, 2022;
  4. And having heard that no donors of property or legacy were identified for the St. Cyril Parish;
  5. And having heard the Presbyteral Council, in accordance with canon 515, §2 on May 5, 2022;
  6. And having determined that the good of souls requires it;
  7. I have determined it necessary and proper that the St. Cyril Parish, Sugar Creek, and Saint Mary Parish, Independence, be united and amalgamated, and that from this extinctive-union and amalgamation, Saint Mary Parish retain the name.

The reasons motivating this decision are as follows:

The number of registered and practicing Catholics at St. Cyril Parish, like much of the deanery region, significantly declined over the past three decades.  Likewise, there has been significant decline in sacramental activity in the faith community.  These declines are evidenced in numbers 12, 14, 15 and 16 above.  Additionally, the physical driving distance is only three miles between the church sites of the St. Cyril Parish in Sugar Creek and St. Mary Parish in Independence.  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 St. Cyril Parish, Sugar Creek, with all the rights, obligations, and privileges accorded it by law, be and is hereto united to and amalgamated with Saint Mary Parish, Independence.

The new Parish shall comprise the territory of the extinct St. Cyril Parish as well as the current territory of Saint Mary Parish.  St. Mary Parish remains in Deanery XI.

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

All the parish and sacramental records of the St. Cyril Parish 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 28, 2024.

This Decree is to be communicated to the Parochial Administrator of the parishes concerned (c. 540), 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 22nd day of March 2024

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

Very Reverend Kenneth A. Riley
Vicar General – Chancellor


Decree Amalgamating Saint Cyril Parish, Sugar Creek to Saint Mary Parish, Independence (PDF)

LEARN MORE: Read the complete Pastoral Plan for Deaneries I, II and XI

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