There are more historic German Catholic churches in Ellis County then any other county in Kansas. They were built of native limestone over 100 years ago and you are welcome to visit these impressive churches and enjoy the beautiful stained glass windows, craftsmanship, statues and majestic altars. You can begin your tour at whichever church works best to fit into your schedule, but a suggested route would include: Depart Hays and travel south to Schoenchen. Visit St. Anthony-Schoenchen, Our Lady Help of Christians-Antonino, St. Mary’s-Ellis, St Joseph-Hays, St Francis-Munjor, St Catherine-Catharine, St Ann- Walker, St. Fidelis-Victoria, Holy Cross Church-Pfeifer.
Coming from the west: St. Mary’s-Ellis, St. Joseph-Hays, St. Anthony-Schoenchen, Our Lady Help of Christians- Antonino, St Francis-Munjor, St Catherine-Catharine, St Ann-Walker, St. Fidelis-Victoria, Holy Cross Church-Pfeifer.
Coming from the east: St Ann-Walker, St. Fidelis-Victoria, Holy Cross Church-Pfeifer, St Catherine-Catharine, St Francis-Munjor, St. Anthony-Schoenchen, Our Lady Help of Christians-Antonino, St Joseph-Hays, St. Mary’s-Ellis.
Because several of the churches are locked during the day, we suggest calling the number listed for each church and make sure the local contact person will be available to have the church unlocked for you or can meet you for a tour.
Hays City was founded in fall of 1867 and the first churches in Ellis County were built during the late 1870’s and 1880’s. The majority of these first churches were small wooden frame structures that were later replaced by larger and more impressive limestone rock churches. Because many of the first citizens were railroad workers, saloon owners, soldiers and even desperados, the early days of Ellis County were wild and dangerous. With the arrival of Volga German settlers and other religious families in Ellis County, the community gradually quieted down as these pioneers brought with them strong religious and family beliefs. Immediately upon completion of their simple homes, the people began building their church to hold worship services. The hardworking people that settled in this area were proud of their faith and it is evident in the beautiful churches they built in Ellis County.
A visit to the beautiful historic Volga German and Bukovina German churches in our area will provide you with a glimpse of our history and an understanding of the strong religious values of the early settlers in Ellis County. The Roman Catholic influences, artistic gothic style and beautiful stained glass are the most dominant features, yet each church is unique in it’s own way. The individual history and stories that can be learned by visiting these churches is very fascinating and it makes one appreciate their beauty even more. The foresight and hard work that went into building these churches proves they stand as a symbol of faith for our early pioneers. We invite you to visit each of the churches, but keep in mind that most are active parishes with Sunday services, weddings and other religious activities that take place on a daily basis. The website link provides information, photos and contacts for each of the churches. It is recommended to call each church contact person in advance to arrange a tour or to make sure the church will be unlocked.
Other historic churches you may want to visit in the area: United Methodist Church – Hays & Ellis, St. Andrew’s – Northwest of Hays, St. Joseph – Liebenthal, St. Mary’s – Gorham, St Mary Help of Christians – Loretto.