The first recorded Christian services in what is now Arkansas were conducted in 1541 by Roman Catholic priests with theHernando de Soto expedition. The site was an Indian village referred to as Casqui near present-day Parkin (Cross County). A tall cross was erected, the stump of which may have been found by modern-day archaeologists, and de Soto and his men knelt before it. The Indian residents of the village were led to do the same, thus satisfying the requirement of Spanish colonial policy that native peoples be brought into the realm of Christendom.
Throughout the rest of the eighteenth century, French and Spanish missionary priests visited Arkansas occasionally but never stayed long. Father Louis Carette, a Jesuit, arrived at Arkansas Post in 1750 but remained only until 1758. Not until 1796 was the “Parish of Arcanzas” created. Father Pierre Janin, its only priest, built a chapel there dedicated to St. Stephen, but he left after only three years.
The first Catholic Church building in Batesville was dedicated in 1910. Father Schlaterer was the dedicator. While here he conducted a confirmation class, the only one held since they had services once a month. These services were held by a priest who was on a circuit.
in 1971 the current location of St. Mary's Parish in Batesville was built