St. Mary's Parish in Taft was officially established in October 1918, under the patronage of Our Lady of Good Counsel, by Bishop John Cantwell in the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles. Father Henry O'Reilly was the first pastor. The baptism of Julia Anna Cronin (11-17-1918) was the first in the new parish, and the first marriage in the church (6-28-1919) was that of William Cheesbourg and Maria Theresa Wegis.
At the beginning of the century, the only parish for this entire area was St. Francis Church in Bakersfield, with the mission of St. Joseph in East Bakersfield, then called Kern. In 1907 St. Joseph's Mission became a parish under Rev. Eugene Heffernan. He was succeeded in 1910 by Rev. John J. Prendeville who made arrangements for services to be held in Taft and Maricopa on the first Sunday of every month. A priest commuted by horse and buggy from St. Joseph's Church, sometimes under armed escort.
By September 1911, the first St. Mary's Church in Taft was built at the corner of Kern and Third Streets. It was a mission-style church, built with volunteer labor at a cost of $8,000 and debt-free when completed, although there were just ten Catholic families in the district. The parish hall in Taft was built while Rev. Patrick O'Donoghue was pastor of St. Joseph's, appointed in 1915 as pastor of Kern (East Bakersfield) and Taft. In those early days, Catholic services were also held at St. Brendan's Church in Maricopa and St. Patrick's Church in McKittrick.
Rev. Daniel Nunan, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Taft during 1919-20, purchased the house and property adjoining the church. Then, under the direction of Rev. James Buckley, in 1925 St. Mary's School and Convent were constructed at Woodrow and Fourth Streets. The following year, the school opened, first with two Franciscan Sisters, then with four Dominican Sisters of Kenosha, Wisconsin --- Sisters Clement, Magdalen, Mary Angela and Vincent. In 1929 there were sixty-two students in grades one through eight.
In the same spirit of enterprise and zeal for the Faith evidenced in the early history of St. Mary's Parish, plans for a new parish plant, on four acres of land purchased from Standard Oil Company, were started in 1949 by Rev. Harry A. Clinch and completed by Rev. Patrick McHugh and Rev. Ignatius Loughran. The new St. Mary's Church was dedicated in 1951 at East Woodrow and First Streets. The talent and labor of many volunteers went into the construction of the new church and rectory. The old church building was moved to Mettler's Station as a mission of St. Augustine Parish in Lamont.
In 1958 the new St. Mary's School and Convent were constructed, with complete fencing of the property and two more classrooms added in 1964. The last class graduated from St. Mary's School in 1969. The classrooms have continued to be used for the parish Religious Education Program. The convent was a facility for the College Child Care Center until 1990. Classrooms were also used for the High School Continuing Education, and the Head Start Program.
The sanctuary of the church was remodeled in the sixties, following new directives after the Second Vatican Council. Although changes have been inevitable, the original beauty and inspiration of the church remained.
The two parishes of Taft and Buttonwillow in 1985-86 were placed under one administration, and again since 1990 the pastor of St. Mary's Church in Taft has been responsible for the parish in Buttonwillow.
The Diocese of Monterey-Fresno had been formed in 1922, separate from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and in 1967 was further divided into two dioceses. Bishop Harry A. Clinch, who was consecrated in 1957, was appointed bishop of the Monterey Diocese. St. Mary's parish in Taft has produced many religious vocations, eleven priests and three sisters. Those who answered the call to ministry were James Brady, B.J. McCoy, Joseph Stieger, Harry Eggert, James Logan, Michael Logan, Ronald Swett, David Fleckenstein, Patrick McCormick, Peter Wilke, William Richard, Diane Armstrong, Kathryn Schmitt and Lucille Lowell.
For the support of St. Mary's Parish, bingo games were started in 1989 and continued until 2008 under the leadership of parish member Art Carlton and with the help of many dedicated volunteers. Through their efforts, various special projects of parish maintenance were realized, including the renovation of facilities in the hall, the resurfacing of the asphalt playground and parking area, and the application of stucco-colorcoat to the church exterior.