July 1, 1912 is the date that marks the beginning of St. Augustine Parish, Breese. It was this day that Father Vincent Hartung arrived as the first pastor of the people of St. Augustine’s who previously had formed part of the congregation of St. Dominic Church. With the steady growth and development of the area and the corresponding increase in the Catholic population, the proposal to establish another parish in Breese was given approval by the Most Reverend J.J. Jansen, Bishop of Belleville, in 1912. The new parish was named in honor of St. Augustine of Hippo in memory of Father August Reineke, the first pastor of St. Dominic Church.
As soon as Father Hartung arrived, plans were made for the building of a temporary frame church near the southeast corner of Main and South Third Streets, and with the willing help of the parishioners, the building was quickly completed and the first mass was celebrated in new parish church ion the Feast of St. Augustine, August 28, 1912. Part of the building also served as a parochial school for a short time until the present school was completed in 1913 at the northeast corner of South Main and Third Streets.
The second floor of the new school building was constructed as the residence for the three Sisters of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ who were teaching in the school. Much of the construction work on the original church and school was done by the men of the parish. Upon completion of the new school which had an enrollment of 155 pupils, work began in 1913 on the construction of the brick rectory west of the present church.
Father Hartung was appointed pastor of St. Luke Parish in Belleville in January, 1916 and Father Albert Kaercher was named pastor of St. Augustine’s. It was under his direction that the present church was built and dedicated on April 5, 1926. The original frame church was then converted to use as a parish hall.
In 1927 the Poor Handmaid Sisters had to give up their mission in the parish due to circumstances beyond their control and in August, 1927 five Sisters of Notre Dame took charge of the school.
The continued growth of the parish and increased school enrollment necessitated the building of a new Parish Center, including a gymnasium for the school athletic activities and a variety of parish functions, a kitchen and cafeteria for the school children, which also serves as a meeting place for parish organizations, as well as other parish and community and educational activities. It is also available to parishioners for receptions and family celebrations. The Parish Center was completed in 1964.
A home at the southwest corner of South Main and Third Streets was purchased by the parish in 1966. The second floor of the school which had served as the Sisters’ residence since 1913 was also converted to classrooms, a library and the school office during this time period.
In February 1974, an extensive program of remodeling and redecorating the interior of the church was undertaken and completed in June of the same year. The parishioners of St. Augustine have been served by the following Pastors since its inception: