Altus, Arkansas



Sun: 9 AM
: No Mass
Tues: 7:30 AM
Wed 6:00 PM
Thur.- Fri:  7:30 AM
Sat: 5:00 PM

Sat: 4:30 PM
Sun: 8:30 AM

Sun: 8:30 AM
Sat: 4:
30 PM

5118 St. Mary's Ln
Altus, AR 72821
Map & Directions

(479) 468-2585

Fr. Pius Iwu

Brian Lachowsky

Church Secretary:
Vicki Ross

Saint Mary's Catholic Church, 5118 St. Mary's Lane, Altus, AR 72821; (479) 468-2585 (office)
                                                           St. Mary’s Catholic Church
                                                  Altus, Arkansas

The sandstone structure was dedicated in 1902, during the pastorate of Rev. Placidus Oechsle, OSB.  
Built along the lines of a basilica of native sandstone quarried from the hill on which it stands, the
church is famous for its original paintings by a German artist, its stained glass windows, its bells and
pipe organ.  The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; Franklin County’s first
church to be so listed.
The parish of St. Mary’s (Our Lady of Perpetual Help or Our Lady Help of Christians) celebrated its
centennial on Thanksgiving Day 1979.  It officially began on Nov. 21, 1879, with the wedding of August
Reiman and Magdalena Huber.  However, the founding father, Rev. Beatus Maria Ziswyler, had
probably been saying Mass in Altus for some time previously.
The murals with gold leaf on the walls were done by German artist Fridolin Fuchs during World War I
under the direction of Father Placidus.  Altus residents served as models for many of the religious
paintings.   Containing 29 stained glass windows, the church has four large bells hanging in its 120-
foot tower.  They weigh a total of 6,393 pounds.  All were donated by parishioners.

To see various views of the interior and exterior of the church, as well as a few glimpses of
parish life, go to the
Photo Albums page.

here for a printable one-page document about St. Mary's Church

here for much more detailed history and description of the church's features.

                                           Exterior: on the west wall above the windows:
                                                 D O M = To the Most Great and Good God
                                                 B M V = To Blessed Mary, Virgin  

The Organ
The organ was built in 1897 by J G Pfeffer and originally installed in St. Francis de Sales oratory in St.
Louis.  St. Mary’s bought it used for $500 in 1925.  It was fully restored to its former glory by Redman
Pipe Organs of Dallas Texas in 1986.  The restoration cost over $100,000.  The ‘prow’ on the choir loft
had to be added to accommodate it size.
The organ is a reverse tracker instrument built so that the organist can face the front of the church.  It
has two manuals (keyboards) and 14 stops, along with pedals for the skilled organist. It has 15 ranks
of pipes, as well as two mixtures added in the restoration. And while it now runs off of self-contained
blowers, it can still be pumped by hand.   Unfortunately, its extreme value forces us to keep the choir loft
locked during the week.  Those interested in seeing the organ up close or playing it should contact
choir director Amy Sexton (479) 667-7218.  If she is available, she will be happy to accommodate your

The  Bells
St. Mary’s has four large bells hanging in its tower.  They were paid for by generous donations from
parishioners.  They were cast by Stuckstede Brothers of St. Louis, MO and dedicated on Thanksgiving
Day 1902.  They were mounted in the tower soon thereafter.  They are:

Name                                       Weight                    Note
1) Holy Angels                    750 pounds                 A
2) Holy Apostles             1,180 pounds                 G
3) Mary Magdalene        1,750 pounds                 F
4) Regina Coeli                2,713 pounds                 D

Unfortunately, the stairs up the bell tower are quite dirty and not particularly safe, so we are unable to
grant requests to see them.  To hear their wonderful sound should suffice us all.