A Message from Father Billy
Wherever the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is proclaimed and whenever the Eucharist is celebrated, there is the Church. The Church is here in Buckeye, Arizona. Welcome to St. Henry Roman Catholic Church. Join us in our endeavor to build up our parish family and preserve an authentic Catholic experience of Christ’s Church.
St. Henry Catholic Church History
From the Ceremony of Dedication Booklet dated April 26, 1981. Until about 1906, there was no Catholic Church in Buckeye. There was a Christian Church to which any person who believed in Christ could attend. Burning with zeal to establish their own Catholic Church, a small band of faithful, through steadfast labors of love, raised a church from a muddy wash, which ran through Buckeye and dedicated it to the honor and glory of God.
The church was located on South Avenue and Sixth Street. The reason for the name, St. Henry, is lost in antiquity. It is believed that around the turn of the century the devotion to St. Henry was revived and that the Bishop suggested the name for the church. However, the original St. Henry’s was a Franciscan Mission Church. Another version of the story is that the Extension Society suggested the name since the donor of ten thousand dollars had requested that the church be so named. The Extension Society, as a matter of record, gave the money for the second Church of St. Henry’s which was built in 1947.
After their labor all day in the fields, Reynaldo Gustamente and Esederio Miranda made and filled the frames for the adobe bricks used to build the church. They were assisted by Miguel Amparano, Amado Sernas, Pablo Perez, Miguel Pesqueira Fisher, Joe Noriega, Jose Maria Gomez, Manuel Cortez-the designer, and bricklayers. Not to be outdone in their generosity, “Mother Long” (Mrs. W.B.) and Mrs. Smith took their buggy and canvassed the entire area seeking donations to help build the new church. A story is told how these ladies drove all the way to Liberty and were rewarded for their efforts by a donation of twenty-five dollars from Mr. Beloat – an unprecedented event since Mr. Beloat was not a Catholic and since twenty-five dollars was a small fortune by the standards of the day.
A story is told of how Joe Yanez hitched up a team of horses and dragged a heavy log over the area to be the floor of the church in order to level the land. Before the adobe church was built, Mass was celebrated in a private home on Center Street. It belonged to the Pablo Perez family and had only a dirt floor. Apple boxes served as seats and kneelers. Mass was not said on a regular basis, just once in a while.
The adobe St. Henry Church was finished and dedicated in 1906 and became a Franciscan Mission attached to St. Mary Parish in Phoenix. Some of the priests who ministered to the adobe church were Father Augustus Cubillo, Father Nicholas Perschl, Father Severn, Father Joseph, Father Ambrose, Father Raymond Martinez and Father Joseph Gamm, who was the last pastor of the old adobe church and the first pastor of the new brick church. Msgr. Henry Granjohn took an interest in the church since his great work of and for the diocese was the overseeing of mission churches and the restoration of failing missions. The priests traveled either by horse and buggy or by train to say Mass – a journey sometimes of a day and a half. Often they arrived on Saturday night and stayed at the Long home until after Mass on Sunday. On September 6, 1911, Jose Noriega, a grandfather of Frank Villa, traveled to Tucson to meet Father Lucio at the Tuscon Railhead. Father Lucio delivered to Mr. Noriega a beautiful wooden DePrado statue of St. Henry. The statue had journeyed from Chicago to Mexico, to Tucson and now Buckeye, where it still is today. There is only one other statue like it, which is in the Church of St. Henry in Missouri.
Finally, after fifty years, the old adobe church was condemned, but for ten years after that, the members of the parish continued to hold services there. After much soul searching, planning coaxing and praying, a new St. Henry became a necessity. The last pastor of the adobe church was Father Joseph Gamm. Then, in 1947, designer Manuel Cortez, funded by the Extension Society, parishioners, non-Catholic donors and bricklayers from the parish built the second St. Henry Church from red brick. By this time, St. Henry was no longer attached to St. Mary’s Parish. At one time it was under the sponsorship of Glendale, another time Immaculate Heart in Phoenix. Then, on May 3, 1956, St. Henry was created as a separate parish in the Diocese of Tucson with its own pastor, Father Cornelius Moynihan.
With the growth of the Town and the Parish, there was no room for all the people attending Mass and special services. In 1979, parishioners made plans for a new church. On Easter 1980, Father Eugene O’Carroll, surrounded by members of the Parish broke ground for the new St. Henry. On April 26, 1981, the structure was dedicated.
By the early 2000s, the Buckeye Valley was starting to explode from a simple farm town to a major city on the western edge of metropolitan Phoenix. St. Henry soon was no longer centrally-located to the expanding city borders nor could the parish church hold the congregants. In 2005, land was obtained off Miller & Lower Buckeye roads. The parish used an elementary school gymnasium for seven years until construction of a small chapel, a plaza, and a large hall (for temporary Sunday worship & other activities) were completed on February 2, 2013. A parish office was completed on the new site in 2015. Plans are now in the making to complete the new parish campus with a priest residence (rectory), a catechesis center, and the crown jewel of the campus: A New Church that will clearly identify the Catholic presence here in the Buckeye Valley.
Priests of St. Henry Church, 1906 to Present
Mission Adobe Church, 1906-1947
Rev. Augustus Cubillo
Rev. Nicholas Perschi
Rev. Joseph Gamm
Rev. Raymond Martinez
Msgr. Henry Granjohn
Red Brick Church, 1947-1981
Rev. Joseph Gamm 1947-1953
Rev. Francis Murphy 1953-1956
Rev. Cornelius Moynihan 1956-1960
Rev. Coleman Casey 1960-1962
Rev. Francis Bechtel 1962-1973
Rev. Eugene O’Carroll 1973-1981
Remodeled Downtown Parish Church & Hall 1981-2012
Rev. Eugene O’Carroll, 1981
Rev. Harold Graf 1981-1982
Rev. Lan Sherwood 1982-1985
Rev. Patrick Colleary 1985-1991
Rev. J. Saul Madrid 1991-1994
Rev. Hugo Gonzalez 1994-1997
Rev. Richard Driscoll 1997-2003
Rev. Charlie Goraieb 2003-2006
Rev. William Kosco 2006- 2012
New Parish Campus 2013 – Present
Rev. William Kosco 2013-Present