Beginning in 1871 Catholics in Ashland attended Mass on the second floor of the Ashland school building. This school was located in the northeast corner of Ashland, east of the present H.A. Votsmier residence.
In 1874 the first Catholic Church in Ashland was built. It was located in the block of the former Alexander Lumber Company. This first Church building was later moved to a location west of the present Church and is still standing. Father Augustine Sauer was the first priest to conduct Mass regularly in Ashland; Ashland was then a mission church attached to the Petersburg parish. Mass was said about once a month.
St. Augustine parish was canonically established in 1875 and doubtless it was Father Sauer who gave the parish the name of his patron Saint, a Bishop and Doctor of the Western Church.
In 1880 there were enough members that a larger church was needed and five lots were purchased in the west part of Ashland and the present Church was completed in 1882 at a cost of $5,403 while Father Thomas A. Hogan was pastor. Bishop Baltes dedicated to the new church on November 14 and confirmed two converts. He called the church "the neatest of its kind in the diocese."
Father John W. Merscher came to Ashland December 1, 1883, and he has the distinction of being the first resident pastor of Ashland.
A parochial residence was built in 1886 at a cost of $2,355.
This residence and all church records burned in 1896, and a new residence was built. Father Maguire was pastor at the time.
Father A. Zurbonsen came to Ashland July 15, 1898.
Five acres of ground were purchased from Edwin Beggs for $1,000, and St. Augustine Cemetery was established just west of Ashland.
Father James F. Mekell came to St. Augustine in 1899 and ministered until 1905. when he returned to his native Ireland.
St. Augustine had not had a bell because the tower was not strong enough to hold one. In 1905 a bell tower was constructed at the southwest corner of St. Augustine Church at a cost of $208. Mrs. Catherine Harley donated the bell in memory of her deceased husband.
Father Thomas J. Connolly came in the spring of 1905.
In the fall of 1913, Father Connolly was succeeded by Reverend William H. Murphy. The kind and good Father Murphy ministered in Ashland for seven years. The congregation increased in size while Father Murphy was pastor.
Father Murphy, after a long illness borne with true priestly resignation, died at the parochial residence in Ashland on July 1, 1920.
On October 1, 1920, Father Dennis O’Brien came to Ashland as pastor and was remembered for how enthusiastically he conducted religion classes in the southwest sacristy of the Church.
Following is the account in the Ashland Sentinel of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of St. Augustine Parish:
“St. Augustine’s Parish of Ashland celebrated its Golden Jubilee on Tuesday July 1st. Elaborate preparations in which the parishioners nobly assisted the efforts of their pastor, had been made weeks before, so that with the dawn of July 1st everything was in perfect readiness. The church and parochial residence were handsomely decorated with colors of the country, which floated and waved to the morning breezes, extending so to speak, a hearty welcome to the numerous friends and visitors who came from city, town and country.
The interior of St. Augustine’s Church presented that morning a beautiful sight. Fifty wax candles, together with electric lights, gave a brilliant expression. A throne of gold was built in the sanctuary, where the Rt. Rev. Bishop presided during the pontifical High Mass. The excellent music rendered by the choir, the officiating priests in their richly embroidered vestments and dalmatics, the altar boys dressed in their neat cassocks and surplices, the main and side altars with a profusion of potted plants and choice cut flowers, together with the numerous candelabra - all these features combined to make the services most solemn and impressive and no doubt left a lasting remembrance in the minds of all who had the good fortune to attend.”
On April 6, 1934, Dennis O’Brien resigned as pastor of St. Augustine to return to his native Ireland, and Rev. William MacAteer was appointed temporary administrator the same day. Rev. Daniel J. Quinn was appointed pastor August 24, 1934. During Father Quinn’s fourteen year ministry, noted improvements included the installation of hardwood floors and green carpet in the sanctuary as well as the installation of new oak pews with padded kneelers.
Father Vincent Heraty was appointed pastor May 10, 1948.
Father Heraty resigned June 30, 1966, to become pastor of Forty Martyrs Church in Tuscola, Illinois.
Father Bernard La Bonte became pastor of St. Augustine Parish June 30, 1966. It was soon decided by pastor and parishioners that a new rectory and new hall should be built to replace the rectory.
On January 1, 1968, because of a shortage of priests, Father La Bonte was asked by Bishop O’Connor to be administrator of Visitation of B.V.M. Parish at Alexander, Illinois, in addition to his duties as pastor of St. Augustine. In 1968 the bell tower was taken down because it was not structurally sound.
On June 30, 1970, Father La Bonte resigned as pastor of St. Augustine parish to accept the duties of pastorate of St. Patricks Church in Pana, Illinois.
On June 30, 1970, Father John B. Kennedy came to Ashland as pastor of St. Augustine parish. On the 23rd of July, 1970, construction began and proceeded as had been anticipated, and Father Kennedy moved into the new Rectory on December 1, 1970.
St. Augustine Hall was completed about the 20th of December, 1971, and the first activity in the Hall was Christmas Party for the grade school children.
The Centennial Celebration was celebrated on November 23, 1976 by Bishop Joseph McNicholas. A Centennial Booklet was published.
Father Joseph Murray came to Ashland in 1977 where he resided until he died in March of 1991. During his ministry, air conditioning was added.
An interim administrator, Fr. Tony Thieman, was appointed until May 1991, when Fr. John Spreen became the pastor of St. Augustine Church.
In July, church renovations included adding of a gathering space, restroom, and ramp. The old bell was also incorporated into a new sign.
On July 1, Father Spreen retired, and Father John O’Connell was to be pastor but died suddenly before fulfilling his appointment.
Father Richard Chiola was appointed temporary pastor.
Father Patrick Wright, a retired priest, served from July, 2004 until the fall of 2007 when he became ill and died in November.
In December, the diocese formed a cluster of four parishes in Cass County.
On January 6, 2008, Father Christopher Brey became pastor of the clustered parishes.
On June 30, 2014, Father Brey was reappointed, and Father Carlos Bohorquez became Parochial Administrator of the Charter Parishes for the next year.
On July 1, 2015, Rev. Charles A. Edwards became pastor of the St. Augustine Parish in Ashland. St. Augustine’s participation in the Cass County Cluster ended. With Father Edwards’s ongoing guidance, the Pastoral and Finance Councils are playing active roles in maintaining and improving the parish. A Stewardship Council and Liturgy, Art & Environment Committee have both been established to improve the social and spiritual needs of St. Augustine.
On August 28, 2016, St. Augustine Parish held a 140th Celebration Jubilee.
On August 1, 2017, the Reverend Daren J. Zehnle, J.C.L., K.CH.S. was appointed Pastor of St. Augustine's, while remaining Adjutant Judicial Vicar, Diocesan Judge on the Diocesan Tribunal, Director of the Office for Divine Worship and the Catechumenate, Episcopal Delegate for Matrimonial Concerns, and graduate studies at The Liturgical Institute in the summers (through July 2021).
An effort to update the parish census was begun in February because the parish census had not been regularly maintained since last taken in 2003. The census effort concluded in September.
In May, the roof of the parish hall was replaced and new gutters were installed in June.
On July 11, 2018 the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, approved the beginning of a capital campaign to replace the roofs of the church and the rectory, to level sidewalks around the hall, church, and rectory, to address caulking issues around the hall, to remove a couple of trees, and to replenish the funds used to replace the roof of the hall. The approved three-year campaign began on August 9, 2018.