Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Cathedral of St. James, South Bend

The Episcopal Church in St. Joseph County has its origin as early as 1840, when visiting clergy conducted occasional services in South Bend. On 7 August 1840, the South Bend Free Press noted, "The Rev. Mr. Manna of the Episcopal Church will preach at the Presbyterian Church in this town on Sunday at 3 o'clock p.m." Bishop George Upfold, the first bishop of Indiana, also made occasional visits.

New impetus for a church began in 1867, when the Rev. Frank M. Gregg, rector of St. Paul's, La Porte, visited during the summer and conducted services on Sunday afternoon at Shively Hall. As winter approached, Bishop Upfold dispatched the Rev. Richard Brass of St. Paul's, Mishawaka, to hold services in the afternoons at the Dutch Reformed Church, a half block north of the present Cathedral. Brass organized St. James Episcopal Church informally on 15 December 1867, appointing a committee to act as a vestry that included Hiram Doolittle as senior warden, George S. Reed as junior warden, and C. W. Guthrie, S. R. King, George W. Matthews, Dwight Deming, and Col. Norman Eddy. The name of St. James was chosen three days later.

Bishop Joseph Talbot, Bishop Coadjutor of Indiana, visited South Bend in the fall of 1867 and again in February 1868. He recruited a Nashotah House graduate, the Rev. George P. Schetky of St. John's Church, Philadelphia, to be the first rector in July 1868. On 6 July, the informal vestry, never properly organized, petitioned Upfold for "approval, consent, and permission" to formally organize the parish of St. James according to diocesan canons. Permission was granted three days later, and the first official vestry was formally seated on 28 July at a meeting in the director's room of the First National Bank.

Despite Schetky's best efforts, the new parish got off to a shaky start, and by October, the vestry voted that it was "inexpedient to continue the effort to maintain an Episcopal Church in this city." Schetky resigned in January 1869, lamenting in a letter his "regret for which language has no expression for the sad results of this reserved attempt to establish and build up the Church in this growing city." The vestry still praised him for his efforts. Later that year, the Rev. Frank Gregg of La Porte returned to South Bend to see what could be done for the fledgling church, and despite the fact that services were poorly attended, he resolved to build a church edifice as a way of firming up its presence. A small women's group had continued to meet in private homes, and the spark for the church had refused to die. Accordingly, the congregation built a small wood frame chapel on Wayne Street east of Lafayette Boulevard for $2,200 under the direction of Gregg, J. Beeson Brownfield, S. R. King, and C. W. Guthrie. Services began under Gregg's direction in September, but he soon departed, and Bishop Talbot sent the Rev. William Richmond as a missionary in 1870 with the understanding that the congregation could not guarantee his salary. Richmond reorganized the parish and had a new vestry elected on 10 April 1871. C. M. Heaton became senior warden and Hiram Doolittle was junior warden. The first Sunday School class was confirmed by Bishop Talbot on 12 May 1871, and the number of communicants increased from 16 to 36. A Sunday School picnic, the first of the parish, was held on 6 July.

Believing that the location of this first church was not suited for its growth, the vestry decided in 1872 to move the building to the northwest corner of Lafayette and Jefferson boulevards after purchasing a lot with a small brick house (used as a rectory) for $5,400. On 20 February 1873, the church reopened and a cabinet-style pipe organ was installed at a cost of $400. In November 1877, Bishop Talbot returned for a visitation, confirming four and ordaining the Rev. Alfred T. Perkins, who became the new rector.

St. James continued to struggle for a number of years, but Bishop David Knickerbacker, Talbot's successor, refused to allow the parish to close. Schuyler Colfax, the Vice President of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant, was a member of the congregation and gave it an important level of support. When he died in 1885, his family presented the church with a processional cross in his honor. In 1891, the Rev. Augustine Prentiss became rector at a salary of $1,300 a year, and he brought much-needed stability. The vestry decided in September 1892 to build a new church, and Corwin B. Van Pelt, the junior warden, was authorized to purchase a lot on the west side of Lafayette Boulevard between Washington and Colfax streets. Mrs. Marian Van Pelt gave much of the money for the construction. The congregation under the leadership of Prentiss's successor, the Rev DeLou Burke, broke ground on 1 June 1894, and the cornerstone was laid just over a month later on St. James Day, 25 July. The South Bend Daily Times reported: "The St. James Episcopal Church congregation on this St. James Day have every reason to be proud and thankful over a result of long years of effort to give that congregation a church structure commensurate with the needs of Episcopalians of South Bend and in every way an architectural ornament of our city."

The new Gothic Revival brick edifice, located at 117 North Lafayette Street, was designed by the architectural firm of Austin & Parker and held its first service at midnight on Christmas Eve, 1894. The following day a Christmas service was held at 10:30, and a dedication service was conducted on 13 January 1895. Burke's successor, the Rev. Francis Milton Banfil, a New Hampshire native, served as rector from 1898 to 1909, and during his tenure the pledge system of envelopes was adopted, the mortgage reduced, and many fine pieces of furniture and art were added to the parish. He left in 1909 after suffering a nervous breakdown.

More improvements followed in the mid-twentieth century. In 1929, the parish completed its first parish hall, known as Cathedral Hall, in the undercroft of the church. The Bishop White Memorial Chapel, later known as the Chapel of the Holy Angels, was remodeled in 1944, as was the baptistery, given in memory of the Rev. Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, who served as rector from 1928 to 1942.

St. James did not become the cathedral of the diocese until 1957 during the episcopate of Bishop Reginald Mallett. When the diocese was founded, Trinity Church Michigan City was designated the cathedral on 25 April 1899. However, the first bishop, John Hazen White, found himself at odds with Trinity's vestry over a number of matters, leading to his decision to move to South Bend in 1912 (when he served as rector of St. James) and split his time there and at his lakeside home at Wawasee. On 4 November 1917, Trinity Michigan City ceased to be the cathedral, and for many years the diocese was effectively without one. Under White's successor, Bishop Campbell Gray, plans were drawn up for a new cathedral in Mishawaka, but due to the onset of the Great Depression, all efforts to raise money for construction were shelved. St. Paul's Mishawaka served as the pro-cathedral during Gray's episcopate, but that designation would survive only a few years into his successor's epsicopate. Bishop Mallett decided to move his residence from Mishawaka to South Bend in 1946, purchasing with a combination of his own and donated funds a house at 2117 East Jefferson Street. Four years later in 1950, he announced that St. Paul's Mishawaka would no longer serve as the pro-cathedral. While he did not affix blame on St. Paul's, Mallett clearly preferred South Bend as his See city.

In 1956 at an Annual Council Meeting in South Bend, Mallett announced that he had accepted the offer of St. James Parish to become the new cathedral. The vestry of St. James had purchased the United Fund Building next door in 1953 and began converting into potential office and educational space for the diocese. It became known as Cathedral House. Mallett was enthroned at the new cathedral on 20 January 1957, and the Very Rev. Robert F. Royster was made the new dean. The St. James Building was purchased in 1962 as a gift from Mrs. Leon B. Slaughter, and the interior was extensively renovated in 1964 after a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Bert K. Patterson.

Since the 1960s, the cathedral has undergone a number of other renovations, including a significant project in 2010 under Dean Brian Grantz. In 1990, under the episcopate of Francis Gray, the Rev. Sarah Tracy and several other women of the parish envisioned a new outreach ministry by creating a day shelter for women and children in need, a place to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. Called St. Margaret's House, the project began in the cathedral basement but eventually expanded until the diocese acquired an adjacent building and leased it to St. Margaret's House. It became an important ministry in South Bend and received ecumenical support from the Catholic Sisters of the Holy Cross. Four deans, the Rev. Robert Bizzaro, the Rev. Frederick Mann, the Rev. Martin Yabroff, and the Rev. Brian Grantz, all made major contributions to the life of the cathedral and to the growth of St. Margaret's House. In 2018, during the episcopate of Bishop Douglas Sparks, the old office building was gutted and refurbished to accommodate a newly renovated office to better serve the needs of the growing diocesan staff.

Robert J. Center, Our Heritage: A History of the First Seventy-five Years of the Diocese of Northern Indiana (South Bend: Diocese of Northern Indiana, 1973).

Anonymous, "A Short History of St. James Cathedral," typescript, undated.


Richard Brass, 1867
George Patterson Schetky, 1868-1869
Frank Mark Gregg, 1870
William Richmond, 1870-1877
Alfred Thomas Perkins, 1877-1879
Francis B. Dunham, 1881-1884
John Plummer Derwent Llwyd, 1885
Frederick Towers, 1885-1887
Frederick Thompson, 1887-1890
Augustine Prentiss, 1891-1892
DeLou Burke, 1893-1896
William Charles Hengen, 1897-1898
Francis Milton Banfil, 1898-1909
Walter Simon Howard, 1910-1912
Bishop John Hazen White, 1912-1920
Howard Russell White, (vicar), 1912-1920
Robert James Long, 1920-1923

John Maurice Francis, 1923-1928
Lawrence Cecil Ferguson, 1928-1942
Don Herbst Copeland, 1943-1953
William Paul Barnds, 1953-1956
Robert Frank Royster, 1956-1969
Robert Ayres MacGill, 1970-1975
Robert Bizzaro, 1975-1992
Frederick Earl Mann, 1993-2004
Martin Irving Yabroff, 2004-2007
Brian Glenn Grantz, 2008-

"A Look Back: Cathedral of St. James," South Bend Tribune, 6 April 2015

Parish Register, 1868-1900

Parish Register, 1868-1900 (alternate digitizing)

Parish Register, 1899-1937

Parish Register, 1899-1935 (alternate digitizing)

Parish Register, 1937-1942

Parish Register, Index of Communicants

Parish Register, 1943-1953

Parish Register, Marriages, 1949-1989

Parish Register, Confirmations, 1950-1986

Parish Register, Baptisms, 1953-1989

Parish Register, Marriages Index, 1931-1939

Parish Register, Burials, 1962-1988


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