St. Catherine Labouré Parish was established on March 1, 1948 and named as the first parish in the world dedicated to St. Catherine Labouré who had been recently canonized. The parish consisted on 900 people and was built on farmhouse that was recently purcased by the Diocese.
The school opened in September of 1949 and was staffed by the Daughters of Charity from Emmitsburg, MD. The student population was 106 children. The Daughters of Charity continued to serve until 1975. At present the school and parish are served by the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary..
A major fund drive for the new Shrine of the Miraculous Medal was launched in September 1973 by Monsignor Leo A. Beierschmitt, the pastor of the parish. Monsignor had a great devotion to Our Lady and the Miraculous Medal and worked closely with the architect and contractor on the design and implementation of his vision. Ground was broken in October of 1974. After a delay of 5 months permission was granted to have Gabriel Loire of Chartes France to execute the windows of the Shrine. Construction began in March 1975 and was dedicated on July 5, 1976.
Catherine always kept some of these first Medals with her throughtout her life. Only ten of them survive today, jealously guarded in the archives of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. One is on exhibition in the Miraculous Medal Art Museum in Germantown, near Philadelphia.
They are essentially the same as the Medals we know today, except that they are not the masterpiece of artistry and engraving effected by modern craftsmen. Little, flat, oval pieces of some alloy, they are a far cry from the ravishing vision Catherine saw, yet they are the sole reason for the vision. Our Lady herself came down from Heaven to model them.
Because of the parish’s status of the first parish in the world named for Saint Catherine Labouré, the Daughters of Charity graciously sent one of the original Miraculous Medals that were cast from Saint Catherine’s direction and was one of her personal posessions until the day she died. It was presented to the people of Saint Catherine Labouré Parish by Mother L. Roge on July 5, 1976 on the occasion of the Church’s dedication. It is a gift that all the Faithful will cherish forever. The medal is now permanently enshrined in the ambo to the left of the altar.