St. Francis Xavier Parish was established on July 1, 1909, by Jesuit priests from the newly founded Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Mo. The first parish Eucharistic celebration took place in a house — only a dozen families made up the new congregation. The following year a church was built to seat 250 people and included a two-room schoolhouse.
During the first decade of life, the parish community established several social and prayer groups, including the Young Lady’s Sodality and the Holy Name Society for men. During the 1930s and 40s, the parish flourished with nearly 2,600 parishioners from over 600 households. Many times, Holy Name Society Mass was held in Rockhurst College’s auditorium to accommodate the crowds.
In 1950 a new church was built with an unusual design: shaped like a fish, complete with blue windows. Over the years, the church building has won several architectural awards, and in 2007, the Kansas City Star Magazine listed St. Francis Xavier Church in the top 10 architecturally favorite buildings in Kansas City, the only Catholic church to be honored.
Today, St. Francis Xavier has a sister parish relationship with the Jesuits’ St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Belize City, which contributes to the understanding and integration of the universal nature of the church. The parish also offers education and spiritual formation, including adult faith formation, a monthly intergenerational Family Faith gathering and a returning Catholics program.