The History of St Mary's Little Valley

In the autumn of 1874, Father John Byron, the pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Salamanca, assisted in the construction of a small wooden structure in the Village of Little Valley, which was the beginning of a parish to be known as St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. The land for the parish grounds was donated by Mr. and Mrs. John Manley. Mr. Manley, a well-known landowner, served in the Department of the Interior during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. 

The parish was operated as a mission with priests from neighboring Cattaraugus, Salamanca, and Randolph conducting religious services for the eight Catholic families who comprised the first membership of St. Mary's Little Valley. The Franciscan Friars from St. Bonaventure were another welcome presence in the St. Mary’s Little Valley parish. They often said Mass and took the time to visit Catholic families in the community. 

Irish immigrants settling in the Little Valley area contributed to the initial construction and continued growth of St. Mary’s. In 1907, James Colton, Bishop of Buffalo, designated the parish a mission church under the directorship of the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Cattaraugus, Father William Krampf. Father Krampf served in the dual capacity of pastor of both parishes until he was transferred to Bolivar in 1912. His successor, Father John Duggan, also pastor of Cattaraugus and a native of Ireland, administered the faith to the members of the parish until his death on November 19, 1939. Father Duggan is buried in Liberty Park Cemetery in Cattaraugus.

The multi-talented and industrious Father Norman O’Meara was then appointed as missionary priest to Little Valley and as resident pastor of the Cattaraugus parish. Father O’Meara, a professional baseball player before his ordination, initiated the summer vacation school at St. Mary’s. Seminarians were then assigned to the parish to teach catechism to the children who attended Little Valley Central School. Father Norman O’Meara’s hard work and dedication to his task succeeded in increasing membership and improving buildings. Father Norm, as he was affectionately called by his parishioners, was transferred to Cuba, New York on July 1, 1945. Succeeding Father O’Meara was Father Richard Deasey.

Full History

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