History of St. Gabriel Parish
Our parish was established March 1, 1956 as St. Michael the Archangel Parish in the Diocese of St. Joseph. When the dioceses of Kansas City and St. Joseph were combined, Bishop John Cody changed the name of our parish to St. Gabriel Archangel on May 1, 1959. Fr. Linus Link was the first pastor to the 70 families who formed the core of the rapidly growing parish, which today has a roster of 900 households.
The first Mass was offered March 4, 1956 at the Winnwood Roller Rink, which served as the gathering place for Sunday worship. Weekday Masses were held in the rectory at 4914 N. Cleveland. On July 21, 1958, a new rectory was purchased at 4737 N. Cleveland from the James H. Stanton Company for $24,450. The convent was moved to 4914 N. Cleveland.
In 1956, a worship space was completed within the new school of 12 classrooms; six classrooms on the first floor and six on the Garden Floor. Four of the classrooms on the south lower level were left an open space for the celebration of Mass. The building cost about $300,000. School opened for the first time on September 26, 1956 with a lay faculty teaching six grades.
In the summer of 1957 the Benedictine Sisters of Fort Smith, Arkansas, accepted St. Gabriel School as one of their missions and expanded the school to eight grades. Sisters were a part of the school faculty through the 1984-1985 school year.
In the spring of 1959, a fund drive was begun to build a church at the south end of the school. Ground was broken on July 12, 1959 and the church, designed for eventual use as a gymnasium, was dedicated on February 17, 1960. It cost $150,000. Air-conditioning was added in 1979-1980 and renovation of the sanctuary in 1983.
The new available space on the lower floor or Garden Floor of the school, which had been used as a church, was turned into four new classrooms. Enrollment in the school rose to 550 and seven more Sisters came to teach. The maximum number of Sisters to teach in the school was 10 in 1967. The school was enlarged once more in 1963 at the north end. This gave a total of 16 classrooms, along with a new activity room, music room and library. There were nine Sisters and nine lay faculty.
In 1968, there were 450 families. The first parish council was elected that year and a religious education program was started for children in public school. By 1978, the number of families increased to 750.
On August 16, 1982, the Early Childhood Learning Center was established including a Montessori preschool for three and four year olds. Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was begun in February 1985 with more than 300 people signed up to take a turn.
In July 1986, the parish was entrusted to the Benedictine community at Conception, MO. Fr. Denis Dougherty, OSB, was assigned pastor. St. Gabriel had the reputation of being the parish with the “immovable debt.” However, on October 11, 1987, a mortgage burning ceremony was held, retiring the parish debt!
The parish voted to retain the present church as the church in 1988. Stained glass windows were then added to the church. A new Allen organ was dedicated in 1991. A new multipurpose building, which houses a large vestibule, a gymnasium, the St. Joseph meeting room and a serving kitchen as well as storage rooms was completed in 1991
The Gathering Space for the church was expanded and a bell tower with a carillon was added in 1995. The new office building with the courtyard was built at the same time. The rectory was remodeled in 1996, and in 1999 to prevent water damage to the basement.
On July 1, 1999, Fr. Karl Barmann, OSB became the second Benedictine pastor of St. Gabriel’s. In May of 2000 new bells were installed in the sturdy bell tower constructed in 1995. The parish voted to name the bells Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The bells ring out each day, and can be heard throughout the neighborhood. The school saw two major improvements in the millennium year of 2000. In April air conditioning was installed in nine classrooms of the school. In October of 2000 a new garage and storage building was built.
A Capital Campaign, started in 2004, included the replacement of all windows in the older additions (grade school, ECLC and Activity Room) of the building; 3 covered entrances to the school building; the installation of automatic doors and a chairlift to make the school handicap accessible; and repairs to the gymnasium roof.
The Parish celebrated its 50th Anniversary in the year 2006 with three events. An Anniversary Mass was held on March 12, 2006. Bishop Robert Finn celebrated the Mass with our current pastor, as well as former pastors concelebrating. A reception was held following Mass honoring the original parishioners of St. Gabriel, as well as the former Benedictine Sisters who served here. In June, our annual Parish Picnic was a celebration for former alumni and teachers of St. Gabriel School. Our final Anniversary event, a Dinner/Dance was held in September, 2006.
On July 1, 2007, after 21 years, Conception Abbey was no longer able to provide priests to staff St. Gabriel. Bishop Robert Finn named Fr. Alexander B. Sinclair as Pastor and Fr. Justin Hoye as Associate Pastor. As of July 1, 2008, St. Raphael Parish, in the Gracemor neighborhood, was officially suppressed by Diocesan decree and the territory formerly belonging to St. Raphael Parish was incorporated into St. Gabriel Parish.
On July 1, 2009, Fr. Joseph Sharbel was named pastor of St. Gabriel Parish.
The Parish celebrated 60 years of Faith, Service and Community on March 6, 2016 with a special anniversary Mass. Bishop James Johnston presided with numerous former pastors and associate pastors of St. Gabriel Parish concelebrating.
In October of 2016, we launched our “Foundations of Faith” campaign to replace the flooring in the sanctuary, parish offices and workrooms, and the north entrance hallway; renovate and update the Gathering Space kitchen; along with a sound system upgrade. Work is still ongoing.