St. Bonaventure Church

Our History

In 1887 the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway began construction from Kansas City to Chicago.  A location was chosen, which was situated in North Central Missouri, as a terminal or division point between these two cities.  By January 1888 the first town lot was sold in the newly plated division point of the railway, later to be known as Marceline.

Marceline received its name at the request of one of the directors of the new railroad, whose wife bore the somewhat Spanish name of "Marcelina."  So with a change of the last vowel, this became the name of the new railroad city.

The new railroad city grew so rapidly that six months after the first lot was sold, it boasted a population of 2,500.  Marceline' present population is 2, 258 making it the second largest town in Linn  County.

When the town of Marceline was established in 1888, Bishop John J. Hogan of Kansas City founded the parish of St. Bonaventure.  It was named in honor of the great Franciscan hero, St. Bonaventure, hoping that the Franciscans at Wien would take control of it.  The monks at Wien declined and Fr. Thomas Burke became the founding resident pastor.

Catholics of Irish, Italian, German, Croatian and Czechoslovakian

origins were the first members of the parish.  Most worked for the

Santa Fe Railroad, as Marceline was established as a coal and

watering stop for the Chicago/Kansas City run.  The first church

building was a wooden structure heated with a pot bellied stove. 

In 1907 electric lights replaced the gas lamps.  In 1937 a 'modern" heating system was installed and placed in the newly dug basement.

One newcomer to Marceline was Walt Disney.  Walt's family moved here with the railroad after Walt was born, living here for a little over four years.  During Walt's short time here he started to draw and to dream.  "To tell the truth, more thins of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since or are likely to in the future."    Walt Disney 

With the passing of the boom town days and additional developments and stabilization of its railroad offices, the businesses of the town became more permanent.   Marceline continues to prosper as a thriving community nestled in the hills of north Missouri. 

In 1959 the church was redecorated after being devastated by a fire.  Another facelift was done in 1979 under the direction of Fr. Richard Frank, with the current interior redone in 2001 under the direction of Fr. Manus Daly.

Our People

St. Bonaventure is home to over 225 Marceline and area families.  Although the railroad no longer uses Marceline as a coaling stop, agriculture and industry provides opportunity for our hard working people.  Our downtown area remains busy and full of vibrant stores and businesses.

Our people believe in the three C's : Children, Church and Community

Children... Whether it is supporting our Catholic school, Fr. McCartan, or PSR program, or in the activities of our CYO, our children are brought into our Catholic faith.  St Bonaventure we are proud of the accomplishments of our young people.

Church... Baptisms, Confirmation, weddings and funerals are central to our lives here in Marceline.  Festivals, pot luck dinners, and work parties bring in parishioners and many others from the area.

Community... As a smaller community, we find the people we work with are the same people we worship with, and the same people at high school sporting events.  This blending of work, worship and school builds a strong sense of community.  This is witnessed by the active Ministerial Alliance, comprised of our local pastors who sponsor events for adults and children throughout the year.