August 10, 1914, the Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, the articles of incorporation of Saint Lawrence Parish were signed, establishing the new parish to serve the needs of Catholics on the north side of Carroll. April 23, 1915, Fr. Joseph Kuemper, past of SS. Peter & Paul Parish in Carroll, purchased five acres in northwest Carroll which was to become the site of the parish. The nucleus of the parish was formed, and in 1916 work began building a church. In December 1916, Fr. Kuemper celebrated the first Mass in the new church, which included a parish hall in the basement and space for classrooms and Sisters’ living quarters on the second floor.
St. Lawrence remained a mission parish until August, 1917, when Fr. Joseph Cordes, assistant-pastor of SS. Peter & Paul, was named the first resident pastor of St. Lawrence Parish. There were 36 families in the new parish. St. Lawrence School opened in September, 1917, administered and taught by Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. To meet growing enrollment in the parish school, a new convent was built in 1929 and the entire second floor of the church used for classrooms. April 11, 1940, Fr. Cordes died.
Fr. Arthur Poeckes served as pastor from 1940 until he died January 2, 1959. During these years the parish quadrupled in size and a new church and rectory were built in 1951. In 1952 the original church-school building was remodeled, producing ten new classrooms and a library. 1952-53 school enrollment was 380 pupils. In 1958 an addition to St. Lawrence School was built. 1958-59 enrollment was 500 pupils.
Because of parish growth, an assistant-pastor was assigned beginning in 1948. This was increased to two assistant-pastors beginning in 1956. Assistant-pastors who served with Fr. Poeckes were Frs. Victor Kollasch, Gerald Wingert, Robert Fangman, Eugene Ceperly, Robert Obermire, Patrick Waite, Patrick Nooney, and Robert Condon.
Msgr. Edward Vollmer served as pastor from February 1959 until he died April 27, 1963. He devoted himself to expanding the parish school. The first phase of a new addition (12 classrooms and new offices and restrooms) was completed in 1962. The old school building was demolished and the second phase (gymnasium, locker rooms, kitchen, cafeteria, classrooms, and a music room) was completed in 1964. 1963-64 enrollment was 602 pupils. Assistant-pastors who served with Msgr. Vollmer were Frs. Thomas Donahue, Jerome Degen, Henry Weimer, Richard Frank, and Peter Fransco.
Msgr. Henry Karhoff served as pastor from June 1963 until his retirement in 1978. He was instrumental in facilitating the liturgical changes following Vatican Council II, including participation in the “dialogue” Mass, the ministry of lectors and communion ministers, and especially congregational singing. Assistant-pastors who served with Msgr. Karhoff were Frs. Ronald Naser, Emmet Farrell, LeRoy Seuntjens, Eugene Walding, James McAlpin, James Smith, Dale Reiff, and Patrick Walsh.
Fr. Lawrence McCarty served as pastor from 1978 until 1986. Under his leadership many parishioners answered the call to ministry. Participation in liturgical ministries grew. A pastoral council was formed. Liturgy, Peace & Justice, and Buildings & Grounds Committees were established. A neighborhood census was undertaken and many inactive Catholics were welcomed back to parish life. A fulltime director of music was employed, and the parish actively participated in the RENEW process. The church sanctuary was remodeled to conform to Vatican Council II liturgical norms, and new offices and a meeting room were added to the parish rectory. Assistant-pastors who served with Fr. McCarty were Frs. Timothy Schott, William Schreiber, Craig Collison, Brian Hughes, Daniel Guenther, Douglas Dandurand, and John Perdue. Two parishioners were ordained permanent deacons for service to St. Lawrence Parish: Robert Bruner in 1984 and L. B. Westendorf in 1986.
Fr. Francis Nemmers served as pastor from 1986 to 1991. The church was air-conditioned and painted, and participation in liturgical ministries continued to grow. Outstanding mortgages were paid off, a weekly second collection for the needy was initiated, and St. Lawrence Parish began to provide financial assistance to a parish in Haiti. Assistant-pastors who served with Fr. Nemmers were Frs. Philip Niles, Steven Brodersen, Keith Dreckman, and Kevin Richter.
Fr. Robert Gralapp served as pastor from 1991 to 1994. During these years, with fewer priests were assigned to Kuemper High School, the number of assistant-pastors assigned to St. Lawrence was reduced from two to one. Fr. Chris Van Oosbree served with Fr. Gralapp and also with Fr. Hartz.
Fr. Gerald Hartz served as pastor from 1994 to 1995. Fr. Hartz was involved in the early stages of the consolidation of St. Lawrence School and Holy Spirit School.
Fr. Laurence Burns served as pastor from 1996 to 2000. Consolidation of St. Lawrence and Holy Spirit schools into the new Kuemper Catholic Grade School was completed, and the parish pastoral council was revitalized. The parish convent was demolished. Assistant-pastors who served with Fr. Burns were Frs. Douglas Klein and Joseph Dillinger. Timothy Murphy was ordained a permanent deacon for service to St. Lawrence Parish in 1998.
Fr. Timothy Schott began his service as pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in July, 2000. He brought strong interests in liturgy and ministry and initiated a pastoral team approach to parish administration. He initiated a monthly parish newsletter, weekly holy hour, weekly Bible study, sung Evening Prayer, and many adult formation opportunities. Fr. Joseph Dillinger continued as parochial vicar until he was reassigned in 2002, ending 54 years of assistant-pastors at Saint Lawrence parish. In 2003 all the Catholic schools in Carroll County unified as a single K-12 Kuemper Catholic School System. We leased our school building to KCSS, and Saint Lawrence School became the Saint Lawrence Center, the KCSS Middle School for grades 6-9. In August 2006 Shirley Molitor began serving the parish as a part-time pastoral care minister, visiting parishioners in the hospital and nursing homes, taking Communion to the homebound, and facilitating bereavement groups. In January 2006 we welcomed a new bishop: Bishop R. Walker Nickless.
A parish assembly was held in May 2007. We noted parish strengths/weaknesses and adopted new goals, many of which depended on building new spaces. A steering committee identified specific needs and presented them to several parish gatherings. In June 2008 BCDM Architects were hired to prepare a design concept which they presented in October. Our finance council and steering committee decided to include a complete redecoration of our church interior in the project. In January 2009 Walsh & Associates conducted a financial feasibility study, and in October Our Second Century Campaign kicked off a 10-week effort. By mid-December $3.2 million had been pledged. Construction of our new parish hall, walkway, family room, & narthex was completed in October 2011. From January to April 2012 our church interior was redecorated (new flooring, pews, paint) and connected to the new geothermal heating/AC system. During those months we celebrated our Masses in the new Collison Hall. Following Easter 2012 the new Cimabue crucifix, Holy Family stained-glass window, and piano were added. The entire Our Second Century Project was completed without having to borrow any funds, a testament to the commitment and generosity of parishioners.
In July 2015 Father Schott retired. Father Craig Collison began serving as pastor, assisted by a new parochial vicar, Father Brian Feller. We look forward to celebrating our parish centennial in 2016. During its 99 years, St. Lawrence Parish has provided the Church with eight priests, one Brother, sixteen Sisters, and thousands of Catholic school alumni. All glory and praise to God.