St. Mary's Preservation Association of Bechyn is a non-profit 501c3 organization created for the purpose of the preservation of The Church of St. Mary of Bechyn and to promote the heritage of our ancestors from the Czech regions of Bohemia and Moravia who founded St. Mary's parish in 1879.
When St. Mary's parish was suppressed in 1992, a group of parishioners worked together and explored the possibility of preserving St. Mary's. These parishioners knew that the very existence of the historic church depended upon them. Working tirelessly, they convinced the Diocese that they were up to the task at hand. Now that they had the approval of the Diocese, the question was how to raise funds to maintain and preserve the nearly 100 year old church building? The answer came from the immigrants who established St. Mary's 113 years earlier. We will honor their heritage and carry on their love of bohemian traditions with an annual celebration! Our first Czech Hertiage Festival was held on August 23, 1992, just a few months after the closing of St. Mary's parish.
Fourteen years later, in 2006, this core group of parishioners established St. Mary's Preservation Association of Bechyn, a 501c3 non profit voluteer organization, and officially took over the ownership and care of the church and grounds. (St. Mary's Cemetery is under the care of St. Aloysius Church in Olivia, Minnesota)
The Preservation Association is managed and operated by a 17-member volunteer committee. Our committee organizes and hosts the annual Czech Heritage Festival and manages fundraising efforts, including the sale of two publications "The Church of St. Mary of Bechyn a history of our parish and henryville township" and "St. Mary's Cemetery Genealogy Guide". The church building and grounds also serve as a community center which is available for rent for family reunions and other events. All proceeds from our fundraising efforts are designated for the maintenance and preservation of St. Mary's. Donations are tax deductable.
We are both honored and thankful for the overwhelming support we have received through the years. Working together with former parishioners, families with ancestors from St. Mary's and all the supporters of St. Mary's is very inspiring and brings to mind an old bohemian saying "Bez praci nejsou kolace" (Without work, there are no kolache)!
Painting exterior of the Church - 1993, 2008
Replace furnace - 1998
Painted interior of church (funds provided by estate donation) - 1998
Refinished church pews - 1998
Replastered basement hall walls - 2001
Re-leaded north side stained glass windows - 2001
Installed tile drainage system - 2003
Bathroom fixtures updates (funds provided by private donation) - 2008, 2014
Installed reverse osmossis water system - 2014
Installed sewer storage system - 2015
Steel shingled roof installed 2017
Extensive tiling around church perimeter - 2018
New furnaces for basement and church proper - 2020
Relead south side stained glass windows