Our Lady of Snows
Potawatomi Indian
Catholic Shrine
Built 1915

Located near Mayetta Kansas off Highway 75

  • Mailing Address

    Our Lady Of Snows
    5971 166th Road
    Mayetta Kansas 66509

    Send e-mail to: Our Lady of Snows

    Our Lady of the Snows
    Catholic Shrine

    “Deep down in the hearts of the Potawatomi people, we  longed for an Indian church, one we could call our own.   A place where our offspring could be taught the truths of the Christian faith; thus giving us an opportunity to have our children baptized and our young people married.”  This sentiment was expressed by our people long before our church was built and it is still at the very core of our hearts.  Here our young people learn to appreciate both their native and their Catholic traditions.

    We welcome you to our website and invite you to worship and share fellowship with us when you are in our area.  For those of you who may have been a member of our parish  community as a young person,  our beautiful little church still sits at the top of the hill in a quiet country setting among the grove of trees.  The view looks out over the gently rolling fields and pastures, a perfect setting of quiet solitude for meditation and reflection.  Your roots are still here.  We invite you to take another look at our community.

    We hope this website gives you a glimpse into our history and faith community.
    Please contact us if you have suggestions or comments.
    God Bless and Peace Be With You. 


    Monthly Mass Schedule

    Normal Date and Time

    First Sunday: 8:30 am - Father Duane- Pot Luck after services

     Second Sunday: 2:00 pm - Father Ric - Pot Luck after services

    Third  Sunday: 8:30 am - Father Duane - Pot Luck after services

    Fourth Sunday: 8:30 am - Father Duane - Pot Luck after services

    Fifth Sunday: 8:30 am - Father Duane - Pot Luck after services


    Our Lady Of Snows

    Mayetta Kansas
    Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation
    From Highway 75
    West on 158 Road nine miles to "I" Rd
    North on "I" Rd one mile to 166 Rd
    West on 166 Rd to top of hill and church



    Father Richard "Ric" Halvorson, Chaplain

    Father Duane Reinert O.F.M. CAP

    Laura Thackery, Parish
    Lavera Bell, Religious Educator

    In July, 2002 Father Richard “Ric” Halvorson was appointed pastor and celebrates mass
    on the second Sunday of each month at 2 p.m.
    A potluck is always served after mass.
    Father Ric is also pastor at St. Dominic, Holton, Ks, and St. Francis Xavier, Mayetta, Ks

    Father Duane Reinert, O.F.M. CAP, Celebrates mass at Our Lady of the Snows
    on the first and third through fifth Sundays of each month at 8:30 a.m.
    A Brunch potluck is also served after mass.
    He is also assigned to Haskell Catholic Campus Center, Lawrence, Ks

    Laura Thackery is Parish Coordinator
    Lavera “Babe” Bell is Religious Educator Coordinator.

     They can be reached at:
    Our Lady of Snows Church
    5971 166th Rd
    Mayetta Kansas 66509.


    Catechism Classes
    Religion Education Classes for the children will begin  October 2007 from 4:30pm - 6 pm.

    Catechism Classes at Our Lady of Snows are held every Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 pm during the school year.
     A snack is provided for the children at 4:45 pm.  Lavera (Babe) Bell, Dan Mehringer and Corneila Jim are instructors to approximately nine children this year.
    We are not punished for our sins, but by them.
      Photo Gallery


    Shipshee Cemetery

    In 1907 the Potawatomi Catholics acquired two acres of ground from Mr. John Shipshee for a burial ground.
    The cemetery is known as Mt. Calvary Cemetery or the Shipshee Cemetery.
    More than 500 Indians have been buried there and parishioners still care for the grounds and dig the graves.
    Roy Hale oversees burial plot assignments and cemetery records.
     The cemetery is located on the Mayetta Potawatomi Reservation at the corner of “K Rd” and 142nd Rd. 


      Photo Gallery


    Sacramental Record Listings

               Holy Cross Church, Emmett, Ks (St. Marys, Ks)
               St. Dominic, Holton, Ks
               Baptisms, Marraiges & Burial Lists


    Holy Cross Baptisms List, Emmett, Ks 1881-1919

    Marriages Holy Cross, Emmett, Ks 1881 - as of Mar 2003; sorted by Bride A-Z

    Marriages Holy Cross, Emmett, Ks 1881 - as of Mar 2003, sorted by Groom A-Z

    For more Information go to:  Prairie Roots



    Early History:

    Potawatomi people came to Kansas in 1838 in a forced removal from Indiana known as the Trail of Death.  Their priest, a French missionary named Father Benjamin Petit, accompanied the group on the journey, and this group settled on the Potawatomi Creek near present day Osawatomi, Kansas.   A year later this group moved about fifteen miles south to Sugar Creek, a short distance east of present Centerville in Linn County, Kansas.   Here “Saint Mary’s Mission (also know as Sugar Creek Mission) was established.  In 1838 Fr. Pierre De Smet, S.J. was assigned to work among the Indians on the upper Missouri and at Council Bluffs for two years.

    1n 1848 the Government moved the Potawatomi to a new location on the Kaw River on a 30-square mile reservation and Saint Mary’s mission was established.  They were joined by other Potawatomi Bands from the Council Bluffs, Iowa, area.

    Before our Indian mission church was built, the Potawatomi Indians traveled by team and wagon to Emmett, Ks, and St. Mary’s, Kansas, to attend mass on some Sundays , Easter and Christmas time.  They usually started the day before, and would spend the night at Indian homes in Emmett, and some would go to St. Mary’s where the Indians were given free lodging and meals served at St. Mary’s College.

     Building our Church:

    .  With the coming of Father Murphy at Emmett, Ks, in 1911, the Catholic Indian community held services in the Blandin school house.  Father Murphy roused the Indian community to action, and a collection of $100 was raised.  Learning that a sum of money was being held in trust with the Catholic Indian Bureau at Washington, he wrote to the Bureau, and a sum of $1,000 was forwarded to Father Murphy.

    Ground was donated by Mitchell Battese, and the first spade of earth was turned for the building of the new church in early June, 1912.  The Indians dug the foundation, and helped in every possible manner.  Mr. De Lay of Emmett contracted to do the carpenter work, and our people stayed helping until the church was finished.  Various Indian families and strangers assisted in purchasing the altar and articles necessary for the church which was officially opened in 1915.

    The altar for the church was imported from Italy.  A pot-bellied stove provided heat for the church, and it was placed near the altar.  The large bell and stained glass windows were brought from St. Joseph’s Church in Hoyt, Kansas, when it closed in 1924, and remain here today.   As was common to all Catholic churches, mass was in Latin, but at Our Lady of the Snows, worship included Indian hymns and simple hymns sung in English.  .   Father  Maurice Guilland of St. Mary’s knew the Potawatomi language and edited a prayer book in the Potawatomi language that was printed in Cincinnati in 1868.

    Part-time Pastor and Travel:

    Although the Catholic Indians now had a church, no pastor was definitely given charge of it, but the pastors of Emmett and Holton were left to do missionary work as they could find time.  In 1918 Father Francis Geinitz was appointed Pastor of the newly organized parish at Mayetta, Kansas, and given full charge of the Potawatomi Indian mission.   He was to celebrate Sunday Mass one Sunday of every month at St. Mary of the Snow church.  Finding it was practically impossible to travel during the winter months, he arranged to have Mass on two Sundays of the month from Easter until Christmas during his sixteen years of service from 1918 – 1934.

    Even now, it’s not always easy to get to Our Lady of the Snows.  The Unpaved roads can still be difficult to maneuver.  It was even more difficult in earlier times.  Well into the 1950’s, Potawatomi people walked for many miles to clean the church on Saturdays or attend mass on Sunday.   Jesuits from St. Mary’s Seminary in St. Mary’s, Kansas, came on Sundays to celebrate mass and hold catechism classes in the tiny church basement.

    Financial Assistance:

    The first church collection was recorded on 1917 and yielded $5.50.  “Snows has never been a wealthy parish, but the congregation has always been generous with their funds, and ever since 1918, the church has contributed to orphanages, seminaries and Catholic universities.

    Jesuits Leave Mission:

    The Jesuits left the area in 1965 and the church was closed for 20 years.  The church and hall fell into disrepair with no assigned pastor for sacraments.  Through the will and prayers of the Potawatomi community, their great faith and trust in Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church; and with the assistance of the Archdiocesan Ministry to Native Americans; and the work of Father Bob Hasenkamp (1985 - 1991), the church reopened in 1986.

    Sister Therese Klepac Hall:

    The original church hall was completed in 1952 and dedicated by Bishop Edward J. Hunkler.   When the hall was reopened in 1987, it was dedicated to Sister Therese Klepac. SCL, who served the church from the time it reopened to the day she passed away in July 10, 1994.  She still holds a very special place in the hearts of our parishioners who worked with her and to those who are young enough to only hear the stories of her untiring vigilance and commitment to God and our community.

    The Church hall is the center of social gatherings and Catechism classes for the parish .  Potlucks after mass are always scheduled.  Celebrations for baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages, reunions, and other family and parish events are also held here.  The Hall was renovated in 2001 with the assistance of Tribal funding.  Funeral dinners are also prepared and served in the hall by parishioners.

     Present Community:

    Our Lady of the Snows and our congregation are a vital part of the spiritual life of the Potawatomi community.  The church members are active in all aspects of Catholic life and the Catholic community as a whole.  Parish life includes Catholic Catechism classes, Baptisms, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

    The parishioners have vigorously supported the canonization of saints such as “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad” – “Woman who prays always” whose English name is St. Philippine Duchesne, a nun of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who taught Indian children at St. Mary’s Mission at Sugar Creek, Ks,  in 1841 and who was canonized in 1988.  Her canonization was attended in Rome by a representative contingent of parishioners from Our Lady of the Snows.  Our parishioners continue to support the canonization of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha with a nationally recognized Kateri Circle. In 1999, several members of our parish made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to follow the steps of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and then had an audience with Pope John Paul II.

    Kansas City, Kansas, Archdiocese Jubilee:

    In 2000, Our Lady of the Snows was selected as a pilgrimage site for this Jubilee Year.
    Archbishop James Patrick Keleher was presider at mass and a crowd estimated at 300 attended this special celebration and feast provided by our parish and the Potawatomi Tribe on November 19, 2000.


    Sister Therese Klepac

    A Sister of Charity of Leavenworth who served our parish from August 1987 to July 1994.
    She was a faithful servant of God and a friend to all.

    She was, according to a priest who worked with her, “one of the great pastors of all time.”  Sister Therese Klepac, SCL, died of cancer in the infirmary at the Sisters of Charity mother house here July 10.  She was 52.
    Until her death she was Pastoral Associate at Our Lady of Snows Parish, Potawatomi Indian Reservation.

    Sister Therese, formerly known as Sister Marie Stephen, was born on September 16, 1941, on Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas.  She was the daughter of Valentine Stephen Klepac and Agnes Marie Paulin Klepac Higman.
    She was educated at Blessed Sacrament School, and graduated from Bishop Ward High School in 1959.

    On August 23, 1959, she joined the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, and professed vows of religion on August 24, 1961.
    Following completion of her time at the mother house, Sister Therese began her work in education.

    Between 1962 and 1976 she taught at a number of schools in Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Illinois, Wyoming and Kansas.

    In 1971 she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Saint Mary College, Leavenworth,
    and in 1985 a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies from Mundelein College, Chicago.

    In 1976 Sister Therese changed ministries.  From 1976 to 1980 she was pastoral minister at Little Flower Parish, Browning, Montana, among the Blackfoot Indians.  From 1980 to 1981 she was Director of Religious Education at St. Dennis Parish, Crow Agency, Montana, among the Crow Indians.
    From 1981 to August 1987 she worked in parish ministry at Annunciation Parish, Denver.

    In 1987 she returned to Kansas to work in the Indian Missions Department of the Archdiocesan Office of Rural Life and Human Development.

    When Sister Therese arrived, Our Lady of Snows Parish was just getting reestablished after having been closed for several years.
    From 1987 until last year she worked with the Potawatomi people and
    Our Lady of Snows pastors to reorganize the spiritual, social and administrative life of the parish.

    “She really cared about the people,” said Father John Stitz, former Director of Ministry to Native Americans.
    “Her greatest contribution was she believed in them, and trusted them.
    Even though there is 80 percent unemployment on the reservation, she started from scratch and helped them do a lot for themselves.”

    Sister Therese guided and encouraged the parishioners, and helped raise funds to remodel and improve the church and parish hall.
    She set up a new parish council, and took several individuals to retreats and conferences.
    She helped bring a kind of life to the parish that it had not seen for a long time.

    “I’ve seen a lot of priests come and go in my 42 years in this archdiocese,” said Father Stitz of her, “and I would rate her as one of the great pastors of all time.”

    The Potawatomis grew to love her, he continued.  “First, she stayed,” he said.  Even our Kansas Volunteers were there for only one or two years.
    She stayed until she died.  She was not short term, and they really appreciated that.
    Two, she had the ability to help them feel responsible for their own parish.
    And three, she liked them.  She enjoyed being with the people, and that’s a blessing.”

    Sister Therese’s ministry extended beyond those in the Church, according to Father Ron
    Cornish, current pastor of Our Lady of Snows and St. Dominic Parish, Holton,
    “She had good relations with all the Indians on the reservation, Catholic and non-Catholic.  She was good to them, and they were good to her.”

    One of the people Sister Therese worked with was Laura Thackery, a Potawatomi who lives in Topeka.
    She will continue Sister Therese’s work as coordinator.
    Sister Therese was a very caring and loving person,” said Thackery.
    “She enjoyed her work with the Indian people, and liked a lot of the native spirituality the people had.”

    Sister Therese’s style was in striking contrast to the strict nuns many of the adult Potawatomis knew growing up in boarding schools.
    To her own mind, Sister Therese was continuing the work of St. Philippine Duchesne,
    the pioneer missionary among the Potawatomis during the territorial period.

    A funeral Mass was concelebrated July 13, in the Annunciation Chapel.  Burial followed at Mt. Olivet Cemetery on the convent grounds.

    (Reprint in part from The Leaven, July 1994)


    Donation for Parish Operation

    Donations for Our Lady of Snows Parish operational expenses may be mailed to:

    Our Lady of Snows Parish
    5971 166th Rd
    Mayetta, Ks 66509

    The new Garden-Grotto sidewalk area is finished and benches, flowers, and bird bath are in place.
    The cost of funding this project was covered completely through donations -
    our thanks to all parishioners who donated money, labor, benches, bird bath, and flowers.

    Please make checks payable to:  Our Lady of Snows.
    Any funds would be used for heating, electricity, insurance, catechism class supplies, and other church operational expenses.
    Thank you.


    Other Memories:

    The bell was rung before mass and could be heard more than 10 miles away.
    At funerals, the bell ringer would ring the bell one time for every year the deceased had been alive.

    Time isn't measured by the years you live, but by the deeds you do and the joy you give. 
    "Watch your thoughts; they become words.
      Watch your words; they become Actions.
      Watch your actions; they become habits.
      Watch your habits; they Become character.
      Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

    You are invited to send your memories.


    Articles and Links

    Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation

    Vatican Rome, Italy

    Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

    Kansas City, Kansas,  Archdiocese Newspaper

    The Catholic Encyclopedia

    Clergy Appreciation


    Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap
    Charles Chaput was born in Concordia, north Kansas, where his mother still lives.
    Second in a family of three, his older sister and younger brother are both married. His family background is
    French Canadian and Native American; he is one of only two Native Arnerican bishops in the USA.
    Archbishop Chaput is a member of the Potawatomi tribe of Native Americans, an
    Algonquian-speaking group that originally inhabited Michigan. His maternal grandmother was the
    last member of the family to live on a reservation and Charles himself was enrolled in the tribe at a young age.


    Local News

    The Holton Recorder News

    The Topeka Capital-Journal

    Welcome to the City of Holton, Kansas


    Contact Us

    Our Lady Of Snows
    5971 166th Road
    Mayetta Kansas 66509

    God can do anything you allow him to do.

    Send e-mail to: Our Lady of Snows


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