In the spring of 1888, Rt. Rev. John J. Hogan of Kansas City requested Rev. Walter Tormey of Brookfield, to select lots in the new town of Marceline upon which to build a Catholic Church. Fr. Tormey secured the lots.
Rev. Thos. J. Burke came to Marceline in August, 1888 to assume duties as pastor. Immediately he began the erection of the St. Bonaventure Church. Frank Pone el et and John Barbarett were the contractors. The parishioners quarried and hauled rock from the Gucker farm east of Marceline for the foundation.
The altars were made in Marceline. Fr. Burke designed and superintended their building, doing much of the work himself. The Communion railing was also made here, some of the planning being done by L. E. Pancost. The Church was dedicated in November, 1888.
Some of the early pioneer families of St. Bonaventure were Francis Clarke, Wm. Howley, R. Durbin, Jas. Connelly, Wm. McLaughlin, John Sennerick, C. Othic, John Donovan, Thos. Martin, R. Lodder, P. W. Kelly, S. Schorgl, James O’Nell, Geo. Gucker, B. Ewigman, A. Ewigman, and Frank Smith.
While the Church was being built services were held in Sennerick’s Hall on East Lake street.
Fr. Burke was succeeded by Rev. Peter D. Cullen, November 1897, who remained until March, 1925. During Fr. Cullen’s pastor age St. Bonaventure School was founded.
In 1932 Rev. Thomas J. McCartan came to Marceline as pastor. He found the parish staggering under an accumulating debt. With a determination characteristic of him, he set to work to reduce it. What he has accomplished in the face of depression is almost beyond belief.
Father Peter O’Rourke was sent as the new pastor of St. Bonaventure’s, after the retirement of Monsignor McCartan in 1957, and was given the task of constructing a new grade school. After completion of the school Fr. Francis O’Duignan was sent as the new pastor.
In the spring of 1960 the present Church was gutted by fire; instead of building a new Church it was decided that the present one be renovated. Services were held in the school gymnasium during the interval. The priest and people of the Church were especially grateful to the Rev. Neil Dubach of the Marceline Methodist Church and the Rev. Charles Weston of the Marceline Christian Church who so generously offered their churches for services.
The Fr. Fred J. Barnett was assigned to St. Bonaventure Church in September 1960 and is the present pastor.