In 1924, Fr. Sammon, the pastor of St. Bernard Parish, founded a mission church in Peoria Heights which was to become St. Thomas the Apostle. He purchased Herbsthrith’s cafe for $8,500 and turned it into the first house of worship. The sacristy was created out of what was the bar, and the dance hall was transformed into the church.
In 1927, Fr. Sammon purchased the land currently occupied by the parish and school. At the time, Fr. Bernard Rank was parochial vicar at St. Bernard, and was entrusted with pastoral care at St. Thomas mission.
In 1937, Bishop Schlarman elevated St. Thomas from a mission to a parish and named the first pastor, Fr. Bernard Rank.
Work began on a permanent church, which was dedicated in 1940. In 1942, Fr. Rank opened St. Thomas School in existing facilities with the help of the Dominican Sisters.
In 1954, Bishop Cousins dedicated the original portion of the current school building. In 1960, an addition was built to double the number of classrooms and add the convent wing of the school.
In 1981, Msgr. Bernard Rank retired at the age of 81. He passed away on March 25, 1983. Fr. William Watson was assigned as the second pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.
In 1995, an addition to the school is completed to add a library, classrooms, a new gym and cafeteria, using the theme: I make all things new.
After many years of preparation, Msgr. Watson added onto the existing church, completing the new church. The new church was dedicated on October 6, 2002.
In 2015, after serving 34 years as pastor, Msgr. Watson retired at the age of 79. Msgr. Jason Gray was named as the third pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.
The work of the parish and school continues as upgrades to our facilities keep our parish and school strong. In 2018, security upgrades to our school were implemented, including the relocation of our parish food pantry.