Immaculate Conception Church is one of the oldest parishes in northern Illinois. It was established in 1841. The original name was St. Anne. The earliest services were held in a log cabin and at that time there were 25-30 parishioners who were served by clerics from Vincennes, Indiana. Early parishoners were said to have traveled to the cabin by horseback, ox carts, and waterways.
The parish was renamed St. Mary after 1843. The first mass in the building at County and Water streets was held in 1847. Land for that building had been sold to the church by Michael Dulanty on 13 June 1844. The parish was renamed St. Bernard by 1854. In 1857 a school was established. The church and school were enlarged around 1859. In 1864 the parish was named Immaculate Conception.
Early pastors included Rev. Bernard McGarish and Rev. John Brady. Bishop Quarter presided at the first confirmation ceremony in 1845, when 56 people were confirmed. Rev. Henry Coyle started the first parish school. Rev. Michael Donohue enlarged the school. Rev. Edward A. Gavin was pastor for 55 years starting in 1871. He was followed by Father Shea.
A new church building was constructed at Grand Avenue and West Street and it was dedicated in 1930. The old church was torn down and the bell placed in the new building. Immaculate Conception celebrated its centennial in 1944. In 1955 a new school building was dedicated.
From 1841 to the early 1930s, parishioners were mainly Irish.
The Family History Library has filmed some sacramental records for Immaculate Conception Church. The microfilms are available for rent through a local family history center. For information on the film which covers Immaculate Conception Church click here.
*Note that you will need to check item 1 on that film in order to be looking at those for Immaculate Conception Church. The filming covers marriages, 1848-1915; baptisms, 1847-1915; deaths 1856-1872; and confirmations from 1870-1876. For those who can't follow the link, the FHL microfilm number is #1571961.
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