Our Parish Roots
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church began as a mission church. "The Mission" began with fewer than 30 families and individuals interested in having weekly Catholic worship services in Penns Valley. Mass was first celebrated in the fall of 1975 at the Henry home in Centre Hall and at the fairgrounds by Msgr. Paul Lenz who was pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Bellefonte.
In the Spring of 1979 Father Cingle of Our Lady of Victory Parish in State College presided over a Eucharistic Liturgy celebrated at Patchwork Farm in east Penns Valley. Mass has been said in Penns Valley on a continuing basis since June 29, 1980 when Father Jim Crookston first celebrated the Eucharist in the "Upper Room" of the Millheim Theater. We were then called St. John's Mission in the Valley after our mother parish, St. John the Evangelist in Bellefonte. Father O'Malley, our pastor and pastor of St. John's, suggested Blessed Kateri as our patroness. Through Father O'Malley's guidance, our mutual struggles, joys and prayers and with Blessed Kateri's intercession, God has blessed us with growth and accomplishment more dramatic than any of us ever dreamed.
In 1981 Bishop Hogan purchased five acres of land from Christ Beiler, an Amish man, along Route 45 in Gregg Township. Ground was broken for the new church on June 6, 1982. On September 26, 1982 the cornerstone was laid; the first for a church in the United States to be named after Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
Bishop Hogan dedicated the new church building (erected under the supervision of Phil Bosak, a mission member), on June 5, 1983-less than three years after the first weekly mass in the theater.