On September 29, 1916, a card party was held at Okolona Hall which netted $75.00. This was to be the beginning
of a fund to provide for the construction of a Catholic Church in South Central Jefferson County. Catholic residents
in the area felt the time had come to have a parish of their own. In February 1917, a down payment was made on
a plot of ground for the new church.
Permission was granted to Rev. Joseph Newman, Pastor of St. Leo the Great Church, to begin the new parish and
construction began July 10, 1921. St. Rita was dedicated as a parish church on February 22, 1922, and in August of
the same year the first annual picnic was held, netting $2,000. A rectory was built in 1926 and a school in 1928,
with an initial enrollment of 78 students. A resident priest was not assigned to the parish until 1936.
Many new homes were built in Okolona following World War II, and so a large addition to the school was blessed
in 1950. The cornerstone for the present church was laid in November 1953. The original 40 families had increased
to over 900. The parish plant was added to with a gym in 1972. The church has been renovated several times with
the most recent renovation being completed in August 2002.
The spirituality of St. Rita parish has been evident in our Faith Community through our religious education
programs. We have Wednesday evening religious education classes for Grades 1-8, and a pre-school program on
Sunday mornings. We have a RCIA team who work together to provide an initiation process for adults seeking to
learnabout the Catholic faith.
St. Rita School can feel proud of the many achievements and high level of service rendered to the community.
Currently 402 students are enrolled in St. Rita School Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Since 1991, After-Care has been offered and continues to grow. The former convent building serves as our
In 1997, St. Rita added a Spanish Mass to help fill the needs of the increasing number of Hispanic families in the
Okolona area. St. Rita current membership numbers 1,260 families.