First Priests

Between 1866 and 1878 the area was serviced by several priests as a Mission parish. Those priests were Fathers Raverdy, Robinson, McGrath and Rithmeyer. They came from Denver and celebrated Mass at LaPorte and at the homes of Catholics living west and north of Fort Collins, most frequently at the home of Frank Michaud. Prior to 1868 the area was part of the Santa Fe diocese. It was established as a Vicariate Apostolic in 1868 until 1887 when the Denver Diocese was established.

After the school was purchased and converted for church use, Bishop Machebeuf assigned Father Anthony J. Abel as its first pastor, in 1878. With his departure in 1880, Fathers J. W. Cummings and Aug. Navet served the parish from Boulder. Father Cummings officiated at the wedding of the parents of John Raymond Kissock, Canadian born John Kissock and Emma Sweeney on November 9, 1881. Emma was born in Clinton N.Y. in 1862 and attended convent schools in Vermont and New York. She was active in many Fort Collins women’s organizations including the Altar and Rosary Society. A Father Raber also came to Fort Collins occasionally in 1880. The resident pastorate was re-established in 1883 with the assignment of Father J. LePage. He built a small brick house near the church, and also a temporary chapel at Greeley. The years 1884 and 1885 saw Fathers Patrick Gleason and Emblem here, and Father Peter Robinet was pastor from 1886 to 1891. Father Edward Downey, who was pastor after Father Robinet until 1892, fixed up an old residence in Longmont for a chapel. Longmont, Loveland, and Greeley were all missions of Fort Collins during these years.

The years 1892 to 1898 saw Father Robinet return as pastor. It was reported in a history account of Fort Collins that he was speaking in French at one hour and in German at another. Among his friends was the Bogard family. Mrs. Bogard was a daughter of Frank Michaud. Bert Bogard, when reminiscing with Father Reycraft in 1975, remembered his mother telling him that, when Father said Mass at the family farm, he would go out to the chicken coop after Mass to get some eggs. Unfortunately, it was his habit to put the eggs in his pockets as he gathered them, where they more often than not became broken. Bert’s mother lived for 93 years at the same place.

Mrs. Esther Riddell related to Father Reycraft that she remembered attending Mass in the old, one-room church as a little girl, as also did John Raymond Kissock, mentioned earlier. Father Robinet officiated at the marriage of Mrs. Riddell’s parents.

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