The History of St. Mary's Parish in Elgin, IL

From the book "St Mary's Golden Jubilee 1851 - 1901"

Contributed by Source #14


In 1887 a number of representative German Catholics of the parish secured an option on the brick Presbyterian church edifice in Villa street near Chicago street, which later, by the authority of the arch-bishop, was purchased. After reconstructing the interior to meet the requirements of the new congregation, it appeared a neat little chapel. The Germans then withdrew from the old and formed a new parish, which has been served in turn as pastors by Fathers B. Westharp, Arthur Riss and Joseph Rohde. Father Rohde was appointed August 15, 1901, and is doing his best to advance the interests of his charge.

Though the unforeseen delay in the publication of this volume has been a source of some disappointment, it affords us pleasure, as it goes to press, to add to the preceding brief record of St. Joseph's parish a memorandum of its progress in the interim, much of which is due to the encouragement and guidance of its zealous pastor, Father Rohde.

Within the past year it was determined by priest and people that the old church in Villa street and the school room in its basement were too small for the growing congregation, which now numbers more than one hundred families. In the fall of 1902 it was disposed of, together with the adjoining property on Chicago street; which belonged to the parish. What was long known as the Schaller property, on Division street, between Center and Geneva streets, was then secured, at a cost of about $9,600, as a site for a new church and parish school building; the structures standing thereon to be used as a pastoral residence and a home for the sisters, who would have charge of the school.

To Mr. J. W. Brinkmann, of Chicago, the well-known church architect, was entrusted the work of plans and specifications for the new edifices. These were soon presented and accepted, and in May, 1903, the contracts were let and ground broken for foundations of the new buildings. So rapidly did the work progress the school building was under roof and the church well under way when the Right Rev. P. J. Muldoon, bishop of the archdiocese, came on the evening of June 21, 1903 to lay the corner stone of the church. This ceremony was witnessed by a concourse of interested people, that covered the parish grounds and the adjacent streets, the most of whom, including courts of the Catholic Order of Foresters, from Chicago; Aurora, Winfield, West Chicago, Hampshire, Volo and Elgin, accompanied by a brass band, met the Right Rev. Bishop and the accompanying clergy on their arrival in the city and escorted them to the parochial residence.

The congregation took possession of and heard the first mass in the new church, which was said by Father Rohde, assisted by Father Hoendrup, of Shermerville, on Sunday, August 23, 1903. The citizens of Elgin, in general, congratulate the pastor and the congregation' in the speedy and successful termination of their efforts and share with them the pride all must feel in the erection of another temple to Christ-ianity that is an ornament to our city.

The new St. Joseph's church is of Toronto pressed brick of a dark red shade, with trimmings of Bedford sandstone and substructure of Joliet sandstone. It is Romanesque in design. The tower is 100 feet in height. The auditorium is 125x39 feet, and the center elevation of the arched and ribbed ceiling is 35 feet. The interior trimmings are of hard pine, with flooring of hard wood. The three altars are of a beautiful Roman pattern, and together with chancel rails and pew are of oak, designed and manufactured by Messrs. Hann & Wanzerin, of Milwaukee, Wis.

The seating capacity of the church is about four hundred. The entire parish buildings will be heated from a steam plant located in the basement of the church.

The new parochial school house is located just to the northeast of the church, and is also of brick, 25x58 feet in dimensions. Though unpretentious in exterior appearance it is neatly finished and comforta-ble in the interior, and can readily accommodate one hundred pupils. It has two nice large rooms, a good basement and ample play ground for the children. The two rooms are so arranged with folding doors they can be readily transformed into a large hall. The school will be presided over by the Sisters of St. Frances whose reputation as instructors need no testimonials in the community.


The total cost of the church and school building will be inside of $10,000, which, taking the price of material and labor at the present time into consideration, speaks well for the judgment and attention of those who had the work in charge.


Father Joseph Rhode was born March 19, 1843, in Rietberg, Westphalia, Germany. He completed his grammar school Course in the German Gymnasium of his native town and then entered Paderberg College, where he studied for six years, graduating with honor. At the seat of the bishopric, which is located in the college town, he was elevated to the priesthood in 1870. After serving in the capacity of a priest in his native country for six years he came to Chicago.

Since coming to this archdiocese Father Rhode has worked diligently and successfully in many German parishes and missions. Among them before coming to Elgin he served at St. Peter's, Chicago, Kankakee, North Aurora, and Volo and Fremont Center, Lake county, Illinois.

* * * *

After the Third Plenary Council Father Mackin was made an irremovable rector and a member of the archbishop's council.

During his pastorate in Elgin the following young priests in the order named seryed as Father Mackin's assistants: Fathers Thos. Carroll, Edward M. Griffin, J. Sullivan, Joseph Dwyer and F. A. Lynde. Of these but Father Griffin, now an assistant with Father H. O.G. McShane in Chicago, and Father Lynde (Father Lynde died at Boulder, Colorado, September 30 1902, since this article was written.) survive. Father Carroll died in Ireland, while on a visit in pursuit of health. Father Sullivan died in Chicago of blood poisoning, contracted while attending a patient at a hospital. Father Dwyer met a sudden and accidental death in an Eastern city. After celebrating mass, while crossing a street with a brother priest, he was run down by a street car. He died soon afterward with true Christian submission to the will of Divine Providence.

Late in the fall of 1896 Father Mackin began the erection of the magnificent new church of St. Mary's, the corner stone of which was laid July 3, 1898. With a pardonable pride he watched the noble pile assume its vast proportions, but he did not live to say mass in it. With the humility and resignation of the true priest that he was, after a long sickness, he surrendered his soul to the God who gave it on the twenty-fourth of August, 1899. And sadly enough the first services in the new church were those of his own funeral, with its mass of requiem, the celebrant of which was his cousin, the Reverend M. T. Mackin, pastor of St. Brendan's Church, Chicago. Father H. P.. Smyth, pastor of St. Mary's Church, Evanston, delivered the funeral sermon, during which he paid an eloquent and merited tribute to the life of the deceased pastor. Near a hundred of the clergy of the diocese came to pay homage to the memory of the good priest and to assist at the mass for the repose of his soul. And spacious as is the new church, its capacity was inadequate to the demands for admission of the throng of citizens and parishioners, who were there to attend the obsequies, and offer with humility their prayers that the soul of the priest who had unpretentiously, for twenty-two years, labored among and for them, with all those of the faithful departed, might, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

The casket containing the remains of Reverend John Mackin is inclosed in a brick vault beneath the floor on the west side of the church, about six feet from the wall near the angle of the transept, opposite a tablet which was erected to his memory.

In person Father Mackin was of medium height, spare of build and was of a nervous sympathetic temperament. A glance at his clean-cut features would evince the dignified scholarly gentleman. His ideals were of the highest order and he strove to attain them.

Though sensitive and jealous of his rights, he willingly accorded others the same consideration he sought himself. He possessed great mental capacity. He was alert and always a student. His ability and intellectuality were recognized by his archbishop and the priests of the archdiocese, who often sought his opinions and advice in their councils. If this gave him any pleasure, it was only as testimony to his rectitude, candor and honesty. He was an eloquent preacher. Though unpretentious in regard to oratory, his sermons and discourses glowed with the fire of genius, were always instructive and interesting and seldom failed to find responsive chords in the hearts of his congregation.

The gentleness of his disposition, the simplicity and. regularity of his daily life, his devotedness and self-sacrifice as pastor, his kindness to the poor and afflicted, his consideration to the erring and fallen, all these, combined with his disregard for self, rendered him a model priest. He commanded the respect of all who knew him; The memory of his beautiful character will long remain a cherished remembrance among his people.

Father F. A. Lynde, who came from Aurora, Illinois, in the spring of 1892, to assist Father Mackin, remained in charge of the parish after the death of that revered priest.


In his efforts to raise money for the completion of the church Father Mackin was rendered efficient aid by Father Lynde, who did all in his power to carry out the plans of the deceased pastor when the burden rested upon his own shoulders. In the fall of 1899, Father D. Mccaffrey of Chicago came to assist Father Lynde in administering to the demands of the parish. Through the efforts of these priests, with the support of the congregation, the new church, though far from completion, was ready for
occupancy when the newly appointed pastor, the Rev. John J. McCann, came on December 24, 1899, to assume control of the parish.

On December 17, 1899; Father Lynde celebrated the last mass said in the old Church of the Immaculate Conception, about which are clustered memories of other days. Within its sacred walls most of the congregation of today were baptized and confirmed. Here many were joined in the holy bonds of matrimony and went forth with the priest's advice and benediction in happiness, good Christians and useful members of society. And here, above the biers of our departed kindred and friends, have we heard the last requiem sung and the last rites read ere we laid to rest all that was mortal of the dear ones, whose voices, now hushed forever, we heard in prayer and chant so often in praise to the meek and lowly Nazarene.

Father Lynde remained an assistant with Father McCann until September, 1900, when the condition of his health forced him to seek relief in a milder climate.


Rev. Francis A. Lynde of the archdiocese of Chicago, was born in Chicago, Jan.19, 1864. ,Tbe family moved to Waukegan, Ill., during his childhood, and his early education was received in the Waukegan parochial school. He made his classical and theological studies in the Niagara University, and was ordained to the pnesthood by the late Bishop Ryan, C. M., of Buffalo, N. Y., June 1, 1889.
His first appointment in the Chicago archdiocese was at Dixon, Ill., where he remained two years. He was one year assistant pastor at Aurora, Ill.; and eight years assistant pastor to the late Father
Mackin, Elgin, Ill., and acting pastor at Elgin following the death of Rev. Father Mackin until the appointment of the present pastor, Rev. John J. McCann.

In September, 1900, he was obliged on account of failing health to relinquish active duty and seek restoration in Colorado. While in the West he visited many places, even going as far as El Paso, Texas, where he spent the early part of the year 1902 in his efforts to regain health, which at the time seemed to be improving. Late the following spring he returned to Colorado, where his remaining strength gave way, his malady, tuberculosis, complicated with stomach trouble, having baffled the best medical skill. He died at Boulder, Colorado, Sept.30, 1902.

The remains were brought to Chicago by his mother, and the funeral was held from her home, 267 Webster Avenue, Saturday morning, Oct. 6th, to St. Vincent's Church, where the service began at 9:30, with the office of the dead chanted by about fifty priests of the archdiocese, among whom was Father Grace, a professor at Niagara University, and many of his classmates.

The solemn mass of requiem was sung by Father E. W. Gavin of Waukegan, for whom in boyhood the deceased served mass; Father Foley of Pullman was deacon, Father J. B. Feeley of Harvey was sub-deacon, and Father J. M. Scanlan of St. John's Church, Chicago, was master of ceremonies.
Father P. C. Conway of St. Pius' Church, Chicago, a classmate of Father Lynde's, preached the funeral sermon, an eloquent and touching discourse, during which he paid a glowing tribute to the disposition, life work and death of the deceased, following with words of sympathy and encouragement to the bereaved mother - widowed since the infancy of Father Lynde; her husband, a Union soldier, was killed during the Civil War - and to the loving and self-sacrificing sister.

After the services in Chicago, the funeral cortege was by train to Waukegan, where, after a short service at St. Mary's Church, the interment took place in the parish cemetery. Revs. E. W. Qavin, P. C. Conway, E. A. Murphy, J. J.. Morressey, M. Sullivan, Joseph Joyce and T. Kearney officiated at the grave.

Laying of Corner Stone of New Church.

The corner stone of the present beautiful edifice was laid Sunday afternoon, July 31, 1898. It was a day and a scene not soon to be for-gotten by those who were fortunate enough to be present. The weather was perfect. The people began to arrive early, so that every inch of space in and about the church was taken long before the time appointed for the ceremony. There must have been three thousand people pres-ent, Catholics and non-Catholics. The walls of the new church had risen to a height of some six feet; they were profusely decorated with the national colors. The floor had been put in place, and here seats had been reserved for the leading members of the congregation and other prominent citizens.

At 3.30 p. m. the strains of martial music were heard. The Elgin military band, led by Mr. J. F. Tetzner, swung around the corner of Chicago and Gifford streets. Then came the Catholic Foresters, Elgin Court No.137, and St. Joseph's Court, one hundred and fifty in number. They made a splendid appearance as they marched along at a lively pace, honest enthusiasm written upon their manly faces. After the Foresters had taken their places, the crowd settled back to waiting patiently once more. The sun beat down in all its July fierceness. Those who had parasols put them up; those who had not wished they had.

About 4 o'clock there was a sharp clicking of watches. It was the hour fixed for the ceremony. All eyes were on the parochial residence. At last the procession came forth, glistening in vestments of white and gold. First came the cross-bearer, bearing aloft the emblem of salvation; then came two acolytes with lighted candles. After them came the clergy, two and two, and lastly came Father Mooney, the chancellor of the archdiocese, who was to perform the ceremony. He was vested in alb, stole and cope. The procession wended its way slowly from the parish house to the new church, the crowd respectfully parting to make way.

And here some indefinable feeling of awe and reverence seemed to creep over the waiting multitude. Even the whisperings of conver sation gradually died away. And when the procession reached the place designated for the High Altar, and marked by a large wooden cross, every sound was hushed. "Quam dilecta tabernacula tua! "How lovely are thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of Hosts!" Rich and clear came the words, borne on the warm afternoon air. The people bowed their heads; some knelt; and a few of the older people wept silent tears. Perhaps they were thinking of another corner stone that was laid fifty years ago. "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, 0 Lord; they shall praise thee forever," continued the chanting priests. "Bet-ter is one day in thy courts above a thousand. I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners. For God loveth mercy and truth; the Lord will give grace and glory. He will not deprive of good things them that walk in inno cence. 0 Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." (Psalm 83.) While the priests sang this psalm, so beautiful in itself, and so appropriate for the occasion, the officiating priest blessed the place intended for the main altar. The procession then moved to the other end of the building, or to that part of it fronting on Fulton street, where the corner stone was held in mid-air, ready to be dropped into its place on a moment's notice. Some appropriate prayers were here recited. "0 Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who art the Stone cut without hands from the mountain, make firm the stone about to be placed in thy name." Then the priest sprinkled the stone with holy water, and cut the sign of the cross on it three times with a mason's trowel, using at the same time the invocation of the blessed Trinity "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Again the celebrant prayed. "Bless this stone, 0 Lord, and grant, through the invocation of thy name, that all who give towards the build-ing of this church, with a pure intention, may receive health of body and peace of soul, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Then the litany of the Saints was recited, followed by Psalm 126. "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it." And so on to the end of the psalm. At a sign from the master of ceremonies, the stone, guided by the hand of the priest, slowly settled into its place. Other prayers were recited, other psalms were sung, the walls of the church were sprinkled with holy water, and the ceremony was over.

Thus was laid the corner stone upon which has since been raised the beautiful church that now graces the northwest corner of Gifford and Fulton streets. Church of the Immaculate Conception it was then called, although the name has since been changed to that of St. Mary's by the authority and approyal of the archbishop. The corner stone itself can easily be seen by anyone entering the church from, Fulton street. It is on the right hand side of the main entrance, about six eet above the ground. It is a beautiful sand stone, weighing eighteen hundred pounds, and bearing on its face the siniple inscription, "St. Mary's, July 31, 1898." There was placed in the corner stone, in a hollow made specially for that purpose, a strong box of copper, containing copies of the daily papers, samples of the coins of the United States, and some ecclesiastical documents. These, no doubt, will be a subject of interest for the antiquarian of some future day.

This sketch would be incomplete without some account of the sermon delivered on the occasion by Father Egan of Auburn Park, Chicago. It was pronounced a masterly effort in sacred eloquence by those who heard it. Unfortunately, however, we have not been able to find any manuscript of the sermon. The only reference we have a hand is the Elgin Daily Courier of August I, 1898.

Father Egan gave a brief outline of the history of the Catholic Church, showing that it was the oldest society in existence bearing the name of Christian. In part, he said: "Christ came on earth to save mankind from sin and the consequences of sin. This He accomplished by His life and teaching, and especially by His death on the cross. Before going back to His Father, before He ascended into heaven, Christ founded an organization or a society that was to continue the work He had begun. This society, this organization, is the Catholic church, the same that exists today in all parts of the world, teaching the same doc-trines that Christ taught, administering the sacraments as He instituted them, exercising the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as He commanded. Your church, our congregation here in Elgin, is a branch of that glorious institution."

The preacher then went on to say, that as Christ really dwelt in every Catholic church by means of His eucharistic presence, no pains should be spared to make His dwelling place all that it should be. No temple could be too magnificent for Him, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain. Father Egan commended the pastors and the people of Elgin for their taste, their generosity and their enterprise, of which he saw ample evidences before him. He did not hesitate to say that the Elgin church promised to be the most beautiful of all suburban churches in the archdiocese. He earnestly exhorted the people to continue in their generosity, not to relax their efforts till every cent of debt was paid. They could then call the church their own, and offer it to God as a tribute of their homage and devotion. A subscription was then taken up, some of those present contributing quite generously. A good sum was realized, which was used in helping to defray the expenses of the day.

Some figures may be of interest here. The new church is one hundred and thirty-two feet in length, and seventy-two feet wide in the tran-sept. The roof is sixty-three feet high; the clear story walls are forty-three feet. The tower will be one hundred and seventy-five and one-half feet. The interior woodwork is of oak. The seating capacity is eight hundred and ten. The cost, exclusive of furniture, is forty thousand dollars. The architect was Martin Carr of Chicago.

Among the priests present on the occasion of the laying of the corner stone were:

Fathers P. A. L. Egan, N.J. Mooney, P. J. Muldoon, B.P. Murray, M. T. Mackin, Ed. A. Murphy, P. J. McDonnell, H. 0'Gara McShane, D. F. McGuire and D. Hayes, all of Chicago; Wil-liam J. McNamee of Joliet, M. Stack of St. Charles, H. P. Smyth of Evanston, George H. Rathz of Batavia; Joseph T. Shields of St. Louis and Joseph Kohde, St. Joseph's.

The altar boys were Edward Kelley James Meenagh and George McLoughlin.



It is hardly necessary for me to say that I am delighted at my appointment to the pastorate of this great parish of St. Mary's, Elgin. The fact that it is one of the ten irremovable rectorships of the archdiocese makes it a most desirable charge. More than that, the reputation which it has long enjoyed for its intelligent faith, its piety, its generosity and its spirit of union and good will, makes it worthy the ambition of any priest.

While I am more than pleased at my appointment, I assure you it is not in a spirit of pride that I enter upon my duties. That memorial tablet over there is sufficient to stifle any such feelings. That marble recalls the memory of my predecessor, a priest universally respected for all the solid qualities that go to make a man and a priest. His life on earth is ended, his work is done, and the verdict of the world is that his life was a noble one and his work well done. When he died he had to his credit forty years of faithful service in the priest-hood. In the natural order of things I have many years yet to live and the greater part of my work is still before me. That tablet speaks of work accomplished. In me you can see at most the promise of work to be done.

The task assigned me is a great one, materially and spiritually considered. I approach it with humulity indeed and yet with hope. I feel confident of success, first, because hope and courage are natural to my youthful years. Another reason of confidence is the fact that I come here not without experience. During the last five years I have had a fair measure of success in a field that few cared to enter and where failure was prophesied for me. My work in Oregon, Polo, Byron and Ashton, the missions under my charge, more than anything else secured for me the promotion to this parish. I feel confident of success also, because I trust in the hearty cooperation of Father Lynde, who has labored so long and so well in our midst. He is acquainted with all of you and is familiar with the fairs of the parish. Since Father Mackin died his position has been very trying one. Not knowing when a new pastor would be appointed or what would be his work, he had to exercise the greatest prudence. He would naturally fear to do anything whichthe new pastor might not approve. When I came and learned of what he had done I could not but congratulate him. He had filled a difficult position well. I am pleased to bear witness to his good work. I feel that we riderstand each other perfectly and I feel certain that his future cooperation will greatly tend to lighten my labor.

Finally, I trust in the zeal and generosity of the whole parish, not forgetting even the children. What has been already done speaks volumes for your good will and generosity. Loving your former pastor, as I know you did, I am sure you are most anxious to see this church completed and paid for, because you know how much he desired it. Moreover, this is to be the temple of God; not a place where you come to offer worship merely, but a place where God is to dwell corporally in the blessed sacrament. Here in the tabernacle our blessed Lord shall ever reside. This church is to be God's house in the literal sense of the words. Believing this, as you do, you must be ready to work and contribute that it may be worthy of God.

Above all, I trust in the grace of God. Without His grace we wou1d work in vain. Pray, therefore, that He may lavish His grace on us priests and on yourselves. Doing all we can ourselves by our natural power, God's grace will not permit that our efforts fail.

Still, my dear brethren, the material work before us is only one part of our duty. It is a great work, but it is not all. Nor is it the more important The end of religion is not the erection of churches and schools and the holding of great ceremonials. These are only a means to an end. The end of them all is our own personal sanctification. We must not, therefore, imagine that we have done our duty vhen we have completed and paid for our church edifice. In the meantime we must labor for our own sanctification. We must be holy, as God is holy, if we hope to abide with Him in eternity. We priests are the 'ministers of God, empowered and commanded to assist you in the work of personal sanctification. God has appointed us to preach His gospel to administer His sacraments, the channels of grace, and He desires us to be models of the virtues which we inculcate. I do most earnestly pray that we shall not be wanting in our part, and you must pray for us, "lest," as St. Paul says, "after we have preached to others we ourselves should become castaways.",

Without going into details, I can at least promise that we shall give you the best service in our power. In the old church many things were difficult or impossible which here are feasible. Father Mackin had planned many improvements in the way of devotions and sodalities when he should have moved into this new building. I shall endeavor to carry them out as I learn your wishes and needs and as opportunity offers. We shall do all we can to encourage the choir. In my estima-tion good music is a most important feature of church service. I am gratified to find here such an excellent choir and I shall do all I can to assist and encourage them.

Finally, the children shall come in for a large share of my attention. If we would perpetuate the church we must see to the early training of the children. The future of the church depends upon their education. The intelligent faith, the piety, the generosity and general good spirit of this parish is due in very great measure to the influence of the school which you have had in your midst so many years. In every place where these sisters have sch6ols they enjoy the highest reputation as teachers. Whatever I can do to further their work I shall be most happy to do. All thoughtful men will admit that where it is possible, a school in which science and religion go hand in hand is the ideal one. Here in this parish we have such a school and I would like to see you all take
advantage of it.

In conclusion, there are two suggestions which seem appropriate on this occasion. We are opening today the magnificent edifice which Father Mackin so longed to see completed. I would suggest, therefore, that you offer your prayers and communion for the repose of his soul. I would also ask you to pray for us priests who are to continue his work. Pray that we may not succumb to the burdens and heat of the day. Pray that we may labor faithfully all the day, so that we may not fear to meet the Lord of the harvest when at eventide the angel of death shall summon us home.

Rev. John J. McCann. - THE TENTH PASTOR.

Rev. John J. McCann was born in Providence, Rhode Island, October 25, 1862. He is the son of George T. and Catherine McCann of Aurora, Ill, to which place the family moved in July, 1866. Father McCann attended the Aurora public schools, and had spent one year in the high school when he went to college. Entering St. Viateur's College, Bourbonnais, Ill., in September, 1877, he remained there five years in the study of the classics and philosophy. He studied theology and kindred sciences in St.,. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Md., finishing the regular course of clerical studies January 6, 1888, on which date he received ordination at the hands of His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons. The next seven years he spent as assistant at St. James', Chicago; St. Philip's, Chicago; St. Mary's, Joliet, and St. Michael's, Galena. He was appointed pastor of the missions of Oregon, Polo and Forreston by Archbishop Feehan, November 28, 1894. He soon afterwards annexed the missions at Byron and Ashton. He organized the first Catholic congregation and built the first Catholic church at Byron in 1895. A four acre cemetery and six town lots were also purchased by him at Byron. The churches at Oregon and Ashton were greatly im-proved under his pastorate. In Polo he secured. a centrally located lot and erected a new church at a cost of a little over $10,000. Both churches which he built, that at Byron and that at Polo, were fully paid for before the first mass was said in them.

Father McCann is a member of the Albert Woodcock Camp, Sons of Veterans, Byron, Ill. When the Spanish American war broke out he was appointed chaplain of the Sons of Veterans' provisional regi-ment by Colonel Hamilton. In union with the regimental surgeon, Dr. E. H. Abbott of Elgin, he enlisted a full company of soldiers for the regiment in the vicinity of Oregon and Byron.

At a competitive examination, held Friday December IS, 1899, at the Cathedral residence, Chicago, he passed successful examination before the Archdiocesan Examining Board, and the next day was appointed by Archbishop Feehan to the irremovable rectorship of St. Mary's Church, Elgin.


Rev. Patrick Gildea was born in Ireland, June 4, 1868. He studied classics at St. Jarlath's College, Tuam. Coming to America in August, 1886, he entered Niagara University in September of the same year, where he pursued his studies in philosophy and theology for the next six years. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago, June 11, 1892, by Bishop Ryan of Buffalo. His first appointment was to St. James' church, Chicago. He came to Elgin in August, 1900.


Rev. John B. Murray, at present one of the assistant pastors of St. Mary's church, was born in Chicago. He was educated at St. Canisius College, Buffalo, N. Y., and St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Md. He was ordained priest on June 22, 1895. As a priest of the Archdiocese, he has served as assistant at St. Mary's, Aurora; St. Leo's, Chicago; St. Patrick's, Rochelle. He came to this parish April 29, 1901.


Among the prelates and. priests who are a source of pride to 'their creed and country, the parish of Elgin has the honor to name four sons of its pioneers who spent a goodly portion of their boyhood within its border. They are Rt. Rev. Maurice Francis Burke, Bishop of St. Joseph, Missouri; Very Rev. Daniel J. Spillard, C. S. C., President of Holy Cross .College, New Orleans, Louisiana; Very Rev. Patrick Keating, S. J., President of St. Xavier's College, Melbourne, Australia, and Rev. Michael Hennessy of the diocese of Pueblo, State of Pueblo, Mexico.


Rt. Rev. Maurice Francis Burke was born in,' Ireland, May 5, 1845, being the sixth of eight children (of whom he is the youngest survivor) born to Francis N. and Joanna C. Burke. The family came to America in 1849 and settled in Chicago. In 1856 they moved to Elgin and fixed their home on a farm in Hoosier Groove, which was purchased by the father. There, at the district school and at the Elgin Academy, young Maurice received his rudimentary education. At the age of eighteen he entered the University' of St. Mary's of the Lake, Chicago, where he remained until February, i866, when he matriculated 'at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana During the following September, having been accepted as a student, he was sent to the American College at Rome, where, after completing a. thorough course, he was ordained by Cardinal Patrizi on May 22, 1875,. for the diocese of Chicago.

On his return to his diocese he was assigned to duty in St. Mary's Church, Chicago, as assistant priest, where he remained until March 24, 1878, when he was appointed by Bishop Foley to the pastorate of St. Mary's parish, Joliet. There, by his zeal and energy, he soon completed a fine stone church, built and established parochial schools and procured a site for a Catholic cemetery on the east side of the city.. The evident ability of the devoted priest marked him as one to whom, important duties could be confided. When the diocese of Cheyenne was erected he was elected by the Sovereign Pontiff to guide the new flock and was consecrated its first bishop on October 28, 1887, at the' Cathedral of the Holy Name in Chicago, by Archbishop Feehan,, assisted by Bishops McCloskey of Louisville, and Cosgrove of Davenport. In this new diocese, which embraces all of Wyoming Territory, the young bishop found ample scope for his ability for organizing the work of Catholicity among the 4,500 white and 3,500 Indian adherents of the faith. With characteristic firmness he applied himself to duty and soon the diocese of Cheyenne possessed the public institutions which only the presence and energy of a bishop can call forth.

On June 19, 1893, Bishop Burke was transferred to the important new diocese of St. Joseph, Missouri. Since his arrival there he has remodeled and enlarged the cathedral, built an episcopal residence, laid out a new cemetery, and through his instrumentality the Ladies of the Sacred Heart have just completed a parochial school at a cost of' $6o,ooo.


The Rev. Daniel Joseph Spillard, C. S. C., the oldest of thirteen children, was born in the city of Cork, Ireland, on the 8th of November,1839. In 1842 his parents removed to the United States, and resided, for the following ten years, in Rochester, New York, where young Mr. Spillard attended the public schools for a while, and afterwards the Catholic Select School, when it was opened at St. Mary's church. He also attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart until it was finally closed. In 1853 he accompanied his parents to Erie, Pa., where he remained about one year.

In 1854 the family removed to Elgin, where the future priest attended both the public and private schools successively, and he spent two years at the Elgin Academy.
Considerably advanced in his studies, Mr. Spillard entered the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, in February, 1862. After two and one-half years of diligent application, be completed the studies prescribed in the collegiate course, and in June, 1864, received the degree of Bachelor of Arts. On that same occasion he was chosen to deliver the valedictory oration, which he did in a most effective manner. He also bore away with him the premium of honor for that year.

Some months after his graduation, Mr. Spillard resolved to link his destiny with the institution wherein he had completed his studies, and accordingly he entered the novitiate of the Congregation of' the holy Cross at Notre Dame, and, after the prescribed term of probation, made his profession in September, 1866. He continued his theological studies till August, i868, when he was, on the 28th of that month, ordained priest.

Previous to his ordination, Mr. Spillard had been engaged in teaching Latin and Greek in the college, but after ordination he was appointed Prefect of Discipline, which office he held for two years.
His experiences, during thirty-two subsequent years of his priest-hood were many and varied, and we cannot in this notice give more than a very brief outline of them.

In August, 1870, he was named pastor of St. Patrick's Church, South Bend, Indiana. During the four years of his incumbency he built a school house, paid part of the debt on the church, and instituted monthly collections, which were kept up by his successors, until all the debts on the old church were canceled and the new church was built and paid for. Father Spillard's hard work began to tell upon his health, and his Superior thought that a change of climate would be beneficial to him. He was accordingly sent to Austin, Texas, where he remained nearly ten years. The change of climate, however, did not bring any diminution of labor. He built the first frame college building, east of the present magnificent structure, and called it St. Edward's College, after the patron saint of the then Superior General, the Very Rev. Edward Sorin.

The beautiful St. Mary's church, of which Father Spillard was pastor, was begun by him under great difficulties. The structure was not completed when he was again appointed to his former office of president of St. Edward's College. After a year he was recalled to Notre Dame to take charge of the novitiate, holding the responsible position of Master of Novices for two years. Next we find him, with other priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, giving missions in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.

When the mission season closed, he took temporary charge of the little parish of Richwood, Wisconsin, and here, while attending to the wants of the few Catholics of the neighborhood, he enjoyed a well-earned and much-needed rest. The following year we meet him again at Notre Dame, as rector of Holy Cross Seminary. Two years afterwards he was named assistant local superior at Notre Dame and teacher of moral theology. Then, in consequence of the serious illness of its pastor, St. Patrick's church was again entrusted to the care of Father Spillard, and thus, after an absence of seventeen years, he was welcomed back once more to the scene of his early pastoral labors. During his stay the old church property was sold, the debt on the church paid, and the beautiful pastoral residence built.

On the death of the Very Rev. A. Granger, July 26, 1893, Father Spillard succeeded him as local superior and second assistant general. When the present superior general of, the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the Very Rev. G. Francais, made his first official visit to New Orleans, he decided that a new college building was needed and that Father Spillard was the right man to take the work in hand. Whilst directing the work, he also had charge of the Church of the Sacred Heart. It was during his pastorate that this church was built by the munificence of that grand old Catholic gentleman, Colonel Count Patrick B. O'Brien. This church was dedicated and consecrated on the same day, February 23, 1896, by Archbishop Janssens. This church is one of the very few in the country that is consecrated. It is not out of place here to mention that the same generous benefactor did not forget the interests of the children of the parish, as his bequest of five thousand dollars ($5,ooo) for the erection of a parish school testifies.

In 1897 Father Spillard was called to the presidency of the Holy Cross College, just mentioned. However, he did not leave the parish until he had gone through the yellow fever epidemic of that year, daily visiting the "Isolation Hospital" until the scourge had passed. Being once asked whether, not being an immune, he was not afraid of the dread plague, he answered as any ordinary good priest might have done under the circumstances, "During my priestly life I have never shrunk from duty. I may die of yellow jack, never of fear."

At present, Father Spillard is president of the Holy Cross College, which under his management is forging to the front among educational institutions. Besides college work, .Father Spillard is chairman of the Com-mittee of Studies for the Catholic Winter School.

For those who heard him at the celebration of our Golden Jubilee, and for our townsfolk who have had the pleasure of hearing him occasionally at his visits to Elgin, it is hardly necessary to say that he is possessed of considerable ability as a pulpit orator, which fact is recognized in his present southern home, where he' is often called upon to preach on special occasions. Father Spillard is still in the enjoyment of health and strength, and someone remarked of him not long since, "He is the youngest ___ man I have ever seen." May he live long in the enjoyment of his green old age.


On St. Patrick's Day, 1846, Patrick Keating was born in Tipperary, Ireland, where his parents, Patrick and Elizabeth Keating, for many years conducted a general mercantile business. Having disposed of their business and property in 1849, Mr. Keating with his family soon afterward came to America and settled near Elgin on all extensive farm at Fayville, which he purchased, and there the boyhood years of the subject of this sketch were spent. He attended school in Elgin and was a great favorite with all because of his extreme good nature and lively disposition.

In 1861 he returned to Ireland and entered Clongowes Wood College, near Dublin, of which his brother, Father Thomas Keating, S. J., was rector. He studied in Jesuit colleges in France, Germany and Italy, and was in Rome when it was besieged by Victor Emmanuel in 1870. Patrick, with other students, was assigned to care for the wounded, and relates that though bullets whizzed about them, and shells exploded near, not one of them was injured. The boys were burning with desire to show their devotion to the Pope by taking arms and pitching into the fray, but the saintly Pius IX would have no wanton blood shed. As soon as the robbers succeeded in breaking through the wall, he saw that his brave soldiers would all be sacrificed before the overwhelming numbers assailing them, and ordered al to submit for the time.

In 1880 Patrick Keating was ordained and began his mission of preaching and teaching in various Jesuit institutions in the old world. He has served as rector of Clongowes Wood College, Ireland, Of St. Ignatius College in Sydney, Australia and at present is president of St. Xavier's College in Melbourne. He has been a faithful son of Loyola - has made many friends beyond the sea, but remembers with affection the scenes and companions of his boyhood and the awakening of Christian faith in his childish soul under the guidance of the early priests of the old church of the Immaculate Conception in Elgin.


The Rev. Michael Hennessy was one of twin sons born to John Hennessy and Mary Roche, his wife, at Clintonville, Kane county, Illinois, December 24, 1867.

He attended the village school at the place of his nativity until he was twelve years of age, when with his parents and the rest of the family, he went to Tombstone, Arizona, where he was instructed at a Catholic college for about six years. In i88~ he entered St. Charles College, Ellicott City, Maryland, and later attended St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, where he remained about two years, when he returned to Arizona on account of the death of a brother. Remaining at Flagstaff, he received private instruction under the auspices of the Bishop of Tucson.

On October 30, 1893, he sailed for Louvain, Belgium, where he completed his studies and was ordained July 7, 1899. Returning immediately to the United States, he was sent to Pueblo, Pueblo, Mexico, where he began his mission as a Catholic priest. By late reports it is learned he is at present an assistant to the pastor of Santa Monica, California.


That heroic spirit of self-abnegation which has impelled countless women in other lands to choose a religious vocation, was not wanting even amongst the little band of Elgin worshipers.. Though aware how distasteful public mention will be to them, we take the liberty of recording the names of these women, once parishioners of Elgin, who are now members of various religious orders: Miss Mary Keating, now a Madame of the Sacred Heart at Omaha, Neb.; Miss Josephine Reegan, now Sister Hortense of the Little Sisters of the Poor, at Oran, Africa; Miss Sarah M. Dwyer, now Sister M. Cristina of Sisters of Mercy;the following Sisters of Charity, B. V. M.: Misses Kate Foley, Sister M. Assunta; Mary Rochford, Sister M. Lidwina; Catherine Rochford, Sister M. Hiltrude; Joanna Rochford, Sister M. Remberta; Anastasia Meehan, Sister M. Evangelista; Sarah Russell Powers, Sister M. Ligouri, and Minnie Palmer, Sister M. Bertina, Miss Mary Hogan, afterwards Mrs. Cummings, joined the Benedictine Order, and is known as Sister Monica at the academy in Nauvoo, Ill.; Miss Celia McCartney, Sister Amadus Marie of the Sisters of Providence, St. Mary's, Ind.

St. Mary's Parish.


In this fair land few cities there are the size of Elgin that cannot claim among the earliest settlers Catholic pioneers. Many of these, because of the unjust and discriminating laws prevailing in the land of their nativity, on arrival were poor in worldly goods, but rich in the possession of love of God, of country and honesty of purpose. In religion they were not aliens in America. If the traditions of Ireland and the Sagas of Iceland be true, St. Brendan, a Catholic Irishman, and Leif Erikson, a Catholic Norseman, were the first Caucasians to reach its shores. Our ancestors in the Catholic faith manned the caravels of Columbus. They first sailed its lakes and rivers, they first explored its forests, plains and mountains. With the courage of martyrs they spread the light of Christianity among its dusky inhabitants. They first, in a realm now within the confines of the United States, proclaimed the right of man to worship his Creator according to the dictates of conscience. Their names are conspicuous among the bravest and best who signed the Declaration of Independence.

During the War of the Revolution the army and navy of Washington bristled with men who were proud to assert their Catholicity, and the French soldiers and sailors who came to his assistance when all was darkest were sent by the devoted Catholic King and Queen, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. We of today are unworthy of our heritage if we do not properly sustain the faith of such illustrious sires.

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