St. Mary’s College is located on 465 rolling acres in northeast Kansas,
about twenty-five miles west of Topeka, the capital of Kansas. The main
entrance of the campus is on U.S. Highway 24, about thirteen miles from
For more than one hundred fifty years the site of the present-day St. Mary’s
College has served as a center for Catholic education. In 1848, the Jesuits
founded here a mission and school for the Potawatomi Indians. Since the
property was on the Oregon Trail, thousands of west-bound settlers were able
to visit the chapel and refresh themselves at the mission before journeying
As the number of Indians declined and the number of white immigrants
increased, the mission changed its orientation. In its place the Jesuits
established a college for boys and men. In 1869, St. Mary’s College received
its charter from the State of Kansas. It was in 1870 that the present
College Building was constructed. For the next sixty years the school
flourished; other buildings were constructed. The boarding school had its
own power plant, water system, steam laundry, canning factory, slaughter
house, farm, gardens, green houses, a creamery, and ice plant. The
curriculum was then, as it is now, the liberal arts. Unfortunately, the
devastating Great Depression forced the College to close in 1931.
Beginning in 1931, St. Mary’s College served as a seminary for the Jesuits.
Seminarians spent four years here in their Theological training. During this
time of study, they were ordained to the priesthood. In 1967, the Jesuits
moved their Theologate back to St. Louis, and St. Mary’s stood empty and
silent for years.
In 1978, the Society of St. Pius X acquired St. Mary’s College and began the
monumental work of restoration. The first Academy classes began in 1979. The
College opened in 1981, with its first graduation in 1984. Five years later,
in 1989, the College was reorganized and the liberal arts program was
established under the direction of Father Angles. The Kansas Board of
Regents has approved this program, and has given St. Mary’s College the
authority to grant the Associate of Arts degree.