In the fall of 1888, Father John F. Leary, Pastor of St. Andrew's in Abilene, visited the Herington area to learn if there were any Catholic families living there and if they might be in need of his ministry during the smallpox epidemic that was spreading through the locality. He found that there were only a few Catholics in the newly established town with some on farms not far from town. He arranged for Mass to be offered in their homes on the fourth Wednesday of every month and the genesis of a Catholic Parish was underway. 


St. Phillip Parish was established in 1873. Some of the first families to arrive in this area were Michael Dougherty in 1870 followed by Peter Morgan, Dennis Haley (Healy), Jacob Teats, James Ryan, August Henquenet, Woods, Thompson, Francis DeBroux, Hall, Phillip Hanavan and Thomas Gribben. 

In 1873, Fr. Philip Scholl ministered to the settlers of the area from St. Francis Xavier Church in Junction City. Our church was dedicated to St. Phillip the Apostle in Fr. Philip's honor. In the winter of 1877, a small church measuring 24'x30' was built and very simply appointed. Two statues, one of the Sacred Heart and one of the Blessed Virgin, graced the church. These two original statues are still a part of the decorum in the current church, one on each side of a lager statue of the Sacred Heart on the high altar. 


Before the founding of St. Columba Parish in 1885, Mass was celebrated in the private homes in the Elmo are as early as 1872 and also in the Dublin Schoolhouse. Fr. Francis Hayden of Solomon, Kansas, initilly cared for the souls of the Irish and German immigrants who lived in the area. After the construction of the church in 1885 or 1886, Fr. O'Leary of Solomon continued pastoral care until 1893 with weekly or at least bi-monthly Mass. In that year, the missions of Hope, Elmo and Herington were attended by Fr. John McNamara from Abilene until 1898 when Fr. Thomas O'Reilly was appointed to Abilene. He initiated construction of the rectory at Elmo in 1899 where he became the first resident pastor, caring from there for Hope and Herington.