History of Our Church

Niagara's Oldest Catholic Church

St. Mary of the Cataract is a Roman Catholic Church, within the Diocese of Buffalo. The history of Niagara Falls is intimately linked with our Catholic faith. The first European to see the Falls was Father Louis Hennepin in the year 1678. Many of the earliest settlers in the area were French and Irish Catholics. Our own beginnings are based upon the missionary work of Saint John Neumann; our parish was his Niagara Falls mission station, founded in the year 1836.


The present St. Mary's church was built in the year 1847.  Its sacristy, built in 1813, is the oldest structure in continuous use in Niagara Falls. The taller steeple of our church is designed to equal the height of the American Falls. The tower's oldest bell was installed in 2003, with the tower clocks added the previous year. In 2004, through the generosity of its parishioners, the church was renovated to a style compatible with its early history.

St. Mary's has been the preeminent Catholic presence in downtown Niagara Falls for more than a century and a half and has become a special place of prayer and pilgrimage. Well into its second century as a parish, St. Mary's continues to be a vibrant Catholic community, with a special mission to the millions of visitors to the natural wonder of Niagara Falls, "the thundering cataract".




The tower is as high in the sky as the American Falls is deep into the Niagara Gorge. 

Tower construction began in 1870 and the tower clock was completed in  2002.



The bell of St. Mary's weighs 4,500 lbs.  Its inscription reads:

I have raised my voice beside the voices of many waters.  I opened my mouth in the jubilee year of 1875.

It was restored in 1988 by parishioners and Knights of Columbus Council 247