St. Patricks Catholic Church

Dixon, Illinois

The 25 Catholic families who had been added to Dixon's population by 1854, when St. Patrick's parish was organized, have increased until today membership of the city's oldest Catholic church has swelled to 700 families.

Before 1854, the Rev. Mark Anthony came occassionally from LaSalle to celebrate the Holy Sacraments of the Mass for the few Catholics in and about Dixon and to administer to them the Sacraments. He said Mass in private homes, sometimes in the little town, at other times in the country.

St. Patrick's parish was organized in 1854 when the Rev. James Fitzgerald was sent to Dixon by the Rt. Rev. Anthony O'Regan, D.D., Bishop of Chicago, and services were held in the courthouse until the first frame church was built on Highland avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets.

The frame church was built by the Rev. T. Kennedy, who succeeded Rev. Fitzgerald in July 1856, and who remained until April 1859. During the same month the Rev. John Tierney arrived, probably as assistant to the Rev. Michael Ford, who came as pastor this month. Rev. Tierney died in 1860 and Rev Ford died in 1862. Other pastors included the Rev. James Powers and the Rev. Louis Lightner, D.D., who was pastor in the summer of 1869 when the foundaiton of the present brick church was laid.

The Rev. J.W.Kennedy served a year and the Rev. Michael McDermott arrived in May 1870, and was pastor when Bishop Foley laid the church cornerstone June 23, 1872, and when the church was completed. A school was established in the old frame church and was taught by the Dominican Sisters from Sinsinawa, Wisconsin.

The Rev. Thomas Hodnett followed in 1875, succeeded by the Rev. Eugene Gray in May 1882. During his time the church was burned but was immediately rebuilt. In June 1892, the Rev. Michael Foley was sent to Dixon by Archbishop Feechan to take charge of the parish with its outmissions, Harmon and Ashton.

During Father Foley's time the site of the present school was bought from the old Schuler estate, the home remodeled and the school opened in September 1897. Later four lots were sold. During this time, also the church and aoil painting were restored and a new organ purchased in 1925. A new rectory was started in 1929 and Father FOley died September 1929.

He was succeeded by the Rev. James Clancy, a former assistant, who died nine months afterward, to be succeeded by Rev. Thomas L. Walsh, who came from Harmon. During Father Walsh's 20 years as pastor, he redecorated and added to the church, remodeled and added to the school and purchased the old Judge Farrell home for a convent, which burned in the winter of 1935-36 and was immediately rebuilt.

Assistants during Father Walsh's pastorate included; the Rev. D. Day, now pastor at Huntley; Robert Leach, deceased, Thomas S. Green, the resent pastor; James Burke, now pastor at Polo; Leonard Guzzardo, now pastor at Elburn; Walter Lesman, now pastor at Lena; Clarence Thennes now pastor at Warren; Joseph Tully, pastor at Rock Falls; Clarence Deitsch, pastor at Stockton; and Walter Roberts no assistant to Ftaher Walsh in St. Charles.

Present plans call for a new school and extensive repairs are being made on the church.

The Catholic Women's club is active in helping both the church and the school.

At St. Mary's school there are 353 children of whom 75 come from St. Anne's parrish on the north side.

The present pastor, Rev. Thomas Green received his first assignment as assistant at St. Patricks in July 1933, and was made pastor at Dundee in March 1936, remaining until his appointment in May 1950, as pastor of St. Patricks.

He is assisted by Father John Kiduff and Father James Malloy. Church organizations include the Knights of Columbus, men of both St. Patrick's and St. Anne's and an adult choir of a dozen members and a children's choir of 50. Parish trustees are Rae Arnounld and James J. Burke.

From the Dixon Evening Telegraph - Anniversary Edition 1 May 1951

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