The History of St. Mary Church of Minooka, Illinois

The first Catholic Church in Grundy County was St. Anthony's in Dresden. Father DuPontavice began celebrating Mass in the fall of 1841. In February 1845 the land was purchased by the Diocese of Chicago for "the sum of one dollar." The building was erected at the foot of Dresden Hill.

In 1854 the Rock Island Railroad was completed passing through Minooka. A transfer of Catholic activities to Minooka was necessary. Mass was said in the home of Mr. George Comerford. In 1864 it was decided to build a church in the Village of Minooka, east of St. Mary's cemetery located on Ridge road. In 1869, the Reverend Peter Sheedy became the first resident pastor. In 1874, Reverend James Welch became pastor. He died a year later and was buried beneath the alter. Father Patrick McMahon succeeded Fr. Welch in 1875. Father James Maloney came in 1878 and died at the age of 80 in 1892. Father Joseph McMahon said his first Mass at St. Mary's on October 8, 1892

On the night of August 3, 1903 the church was struck by lightning and reduced to ashes. However, Fr. McMahon was able to save the baptism and marriage records and a parishioner saved the sanctuary lamp which now hangs above the alter. The day after the fire a building committee was organized. It was decided to move the church to the present site to centralize the church in the Village of Minooka. On October 4, 1904 the present church was dedicated.

On May 8, 1918, Father McMahon celebrated his Golden Jubilee. His Grace, Archbishop Mundelein honored the occasion with his presence. The women served a "Bountiful Repast" to Fr. McMahon, Archbishop Mundelein and about 50 priests. Due to Fr. McMahon's advanced age, Cardinal Mundelein saw fit to send assistant priest, Fr. Daniel Murphy (1926-1927): Fr. Joseph Savage (1927); and Fr. Patrick Buckley (1927-1929).

After Fr. McMahon's death in 1928, Fr. Armand Martin was appointed pastor. St. Mary's Parish continued to be served by many dedicated priests. Fr. Gordon Michaels was at St. Mary's, followed by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Daniel J. Murray, Rev. James Dicken, Rev. E.T. Langan and Rev. S. Gryga. In October of 1963 Fr. Ted Berst was appointed to St. Mary's. In 1964 there were numerous celebrations commemorating the centennial of St. Mary's. Msgr. Peter Seidl was assigned to be pastor of St. Mary's in 1970. St. Ann's Mission in neighboring Channahon was started while Msgr. Seidl was at St. Mary's. Fr. Anthony DeFelippis came to Minooka in 1982. He worked hard to remodel our church and during this remodeling the beams had to be added to prevent the walls from being pushed out by the weight of the roof.

In 1989 the 125th year of St. Mary Minooka was celebrated.

The fire, which occurred in 1990, did extensive damage to the interior of St. Mary's. The church and sanctuary lamp were resurrected from the ashes for a second time. We continue to celebrate the sacraments at the altar of the Lord. In June of 1993, Fr. Frank Vitus was assigned to be the pastor of St. Mary's. In June of 1998 Fr. Mark Fracaro came to our parish.

The church is looking toward the future and the growth in our community. We are envisioning building a new church to service the needs of the area.

Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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