Our History

History of St. Mary Catholic Church

The 100+ years of Catholic history of St. Mary's Parish has it's roots in the missionary work accomplished with the Tulalip tribes and the early settlers in the Marysville area.  The religious and secular history of Marysville is intertwined with James and Maria Comeford, for whom Marysville was named.  In 1886, three years before Washington became a state, the first Mass was celebrated in the home of the Comefords.

In 1895, a parcel of land was acquired from Maria Comeford.  The Catholic people of Marysville, wanting a permanent place to worship, used their own labor and talents to build a large, frame building at the corner of Fourth and Delta streets, under the direction of Father Peter Dubbel. In 1901, Father Paul Gard officially established St. Mary's Parish.  There were nine Catholic families in the new parish, totaling 27 people.

By the 1960's, the parish had outgrown the original building, and parishioners began focusing on a new site.  On December 11, 1966, the groundbreaking took place for our current facility, and St. Mary's was ready to begin serving the 500 parish families in September, 1967, from the new complex.  At the present time there are more than 1,400 families in our parish.

As a parish community, we are proud of our rich history and our connections to our early beginnings.  The church's first bell, donated in 1907 by James Comeford, is housed within a ground-level near the front entrance to the church.


History of St. Anne Mission

The 150+ year history of St. Anne's Mission reveals a story of loyalty and friendship between the Tulalip Indians and Catholic missionaries, especially Eugene Casimir Chirouse, O..>I., known as "The Apostle of the Puget Sound Indians."

In late 1857, Father Chirouse traveled by canoe to a Tulalip reservation beach, now known as Priest Point.  He built a log church, adorning it with a bell and a beautiful state of Our Lady that had traveled with him from France.  The bell and statue, known as the "French Madonna," remain to this day.

Father Chirouse learned the Snohomish dialect, then preached, instructed and baptized throughout what is now Snohomish, Island, Skagit, Whatcom, and San Juan counties.  In 1861, the U.S. Government promised tribal aid in exchange for the first contract Indian school in the country.  At the all-boys school, Father wrote Snohomish-language books, and taught religion, woodcarving and farming.

However, when the Government did not supply their promised aid, Father Chirouse traveled the land begging for help for his people.  Sincere was no doctor, it was left to Father Chirouse to care for the Indians through a smallpox epidemic.  To the keep the school running, he and the school children logged roads.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the Tribes throughout the region loved Father Chirouse.  In 1878, the Tribes wanted to petition the Pope to let "their Father" stay, rather than be transferred.  Their request was denied.  When he returned for a visit in 1891, 400 Tulalip Indians camped at the Mission for a celebration.  Indeed, Father Chirouse gave last rites to Chief Seattle (Sealth), for whom Seattle was named, and presided over his Requiem Mass.

Upon his departure, the Sisters of Providence took over the Mission.  A girls' school was added, and young girls began learning the trade of nursing.  The Indian children, hence, were required to speak English.  Many of the Tulalip Indians remember this time as a very sad time in their lives.

In 1902, the original St. Anne's Mission Church burned down.  A young Indian student, Emil Williams, rushed inside to save the statue of Mary.  The current Mission of St. Anne was built in 1904, led by Father Paul Gard, the "French Madonna" and bell were returned to adorn the new church.  The Mission of St. Anne currently has        55 registered families.


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Source:  The Mary Koch Collection of information on Tulalip