St. Mary’s Catholic Church, (originally named Mother of God or Mutter des Gottes Parish) was established in 1848 as a German-speaking national parish, making it the second oldest parish in the City of Fort Wayne. During WWI, the use of German in both church and school was discontinued and the name changed simply to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. On June 22, 2014, upon request, Bishop Kevin Rhoades approved the name change back to its original St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church.
In the early years of St. Mary’s, simply the struggle to survive and keep the Faith intact were of primary importance. Likewise, the building of a suitable house of worship and the establishing and maintaining of a parish school were high on the list of priorities. With the continuing influx of German-speaking immigrants, there came a time when St. Mary’s was the largest Catholic parish in the area.
In more recent years, with the change in demographics, the name of St. Mary’s has become synonymous with helping those less fortunate both in body and in spirit. Despite losing its beautiful Gothic-style church and related facilities in a disastrous 1993 fire, St. Mary’s has continued non-stop in providing for the human person both spiritually and physically. In addition to weekly Sunday Mass and religious classes for both adults and children, St. Mary’s Parish is responsible for operating its famous Soup Kitchen, which is open seven days a week; Miss Virginia’s, which is an independent non-profit agency that partners with the Soup Kitchen in providing food for the hungry; Ave Maria House, a hospitality house for those who are homeless; the parish St. Vincent de Paul Society, which helps with material goods along with a home visitation; the Bells of St. Mary’s Program that helps low income earning families afford a private education; the Parish Thanksgiving Day Dinner serving some 1,800 dinners each holiday; the Parish Christmas Food Basket Program which serves some 1,100 families at Christmas time; our work with the East Side/West Side Summer Youth Program; our Mission to Haiti, which funds a school there; and our St. Martin de Porres Society, which honors the diversity of our parish. St. Mary’s was also instrumental in founding Matthew 25, a free Health and Dental Clinic, which is an independent entity today.