On December 5, 1923, Father F. J. Huppertz was appointed pastor of St. Mary's Church in Chase, Kansas, eight miles west of Lyons, with Little River and McPherson as missions and Lyons as a station where he and his predecessor, Father Thomas J. Powers now at Iola, used to say Mass twice a month in a Mexican house. There were in Lyons at that time about half a dozen white Catholics but quite a large number of Mexicans. Father Huppertz decided to start a church at Lyons. A real problem indeed with half a dozen Catholics and only three Catholic men in the community. Encouraged by the Rt. Rev. Bishop, he looked around and he found his difficult task made easier by a prominent citizen of Lyons, a non-Catholic, the editor of the Daily News, Paul Jones, with a character for truth and justice, who had driven from Lyons the elements that preach hatred and bigotry. Another good friend, likewise a non-Catholic, Louis Needham, real estate agent, who is worthy, to be recommended to all, was our engineer on the road to success. About one-fourth of the cost of the present building, the size of which is 54 x 32 feet, has been paid by non-Catholics in Lyons. Frank Young, the Chevrolet dealer, a member of the new congregation donated the ground on beautiful Douglas Street and so the work was started. There is the best hope that the new congregation will increase rapidly. Quite a few have come to Lyons already and treasures its magnificent permanent St. Paul's Catholic Church. The following clipping from the Lyons Daily News shows the way in which the undertaking was received by the people of Lyons.
Welcome to St. Paul's
In Dedicating St. Paul's Catholic Church, Bishop Schwertner and Rev. Stephen Hermanns both paid high compliments to Lyons and thanked the community for the hospitable manner in which the new church and congregation is being received. Both stressed the civic pride and beauty of the town, its physical and moral cleanliness, its devotion and broad tolerance in religious matter. Both expressed a hope that the establishment of a Catholic Church here might stimulate a further development of praiseworth characteristics of the community. There was nobody to arise and thank the Catholic spokesman for their tributes and to say in return that the community is both pleased and honored to be chosen as the field for a new Catholic Church where the activities of the denomination in Rice County may center. So the news will complete what should be an exchange of greetings of good will. The dedicatory sermon of Rev. Fr. Hermanns was a scholarly, eloquent and patriotic address that every person in the community should have heard. The veteran priest speaks extemporaneously or his message might be printed. No less inspiring and clarifying was the shorter address of Bishop Schwertner. Both explained what the ceremonies of the church seemingly silly mummeries to Progestants, stand for, how they started 1,927 years ago andhave been continued in the same fashion, even to retaining the noble Latin language. The dedication of a Cathollic Church in a city 50 years of age, which has had nothing but Protestant churches seems like admitting something new and strange. But the truth of the matter is that something old and solid has been slipped into the foundation of the religious structure of the city, something that should have come along with the Masonic Lodge in the days of the youth of our fathers. So the News appoints itself to welcome to Lyons the church of Peter, the mother church that kept burning the torch of Christianity in perilous, old, dark days of human history.
The parish property was moved to a new site, consisting of twenty acres on South St. John Street. Ground was broken May 8, 1950 while Father Adolph Stremel was pastor. The new building served as a combination chapel and school and was 110 feet long and 70 feet wide. It was built of cinder block and buff brick. Dedication for the combination church and school, as well as a convent, was December 7, 1952 by Bishop Mark K. Carroll. Father Steve A. Reif was then pastor. The sisters of St. Joseph staffed the school until May 29, 1968 when it was closed. The gymnasium area of this structure served as the church from 1952 up to the present. The old church served as a rectory until 1963, when a new priest's residence, under the guidance of Father Dennis Dougherty, was constructed.
The Present Church
St. Paul Catholic Church, the first new Catholic church in the second century of the Wichita Diocese, was dedicated on August 7, 1988. Just as our Catholic faith binds us together spiritually in one faith community, so, too, does our church building bind us together as a living and visible faith community. For us at St. Paul, our new church building is a visible sign of our common unity with each other. It serves as a tool to bring us together to share our love and fellowship with God and with one another.
As you enter the church either through the main doors from Douglas Street or from the parking lot, you will find yourself located in the vestibule. It is 600 square feet and serves as a greeting area, and with relatively clear stained glass, as an overflow for church services, or as an area to take fussy children.
Entering the main body of the church, your first view is of the altar. The altar and other sanctuary furniture was designed and built with decorative carvings that compliment the church architecture. The hand carved five foot wooden figure of Jesus Crucified hangs on a cross 20 feet above the altar. The church proper is 3,300 square feet and seats 250. The choir area is located near the altar on the right side. The confessional is directly across from the choir area.
The Social Hall and Educational Wing are located in back of the vestibule. The hall is 2,300 square feet and seats 150 at tables. Seven classrooms are along the west side and south end. They are all approximately 820 square feet and will be used for religion classes and small group meetings.