St. James Pro Cathedral

410 N. Second St., Rev. J.A. McMahon, pastor

Source: 1872-1873 City Directory

photo “Call Fr. Healey to St. James”

Source:  Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O

Appt of Rev. Joseph T. Healey to succeed the late Right Rev. John P. McGuire. Fr. Healey is now pastor of St. Michael’s parish of Galena, Il

Source: Rockford Register Republic 1/24/1946

Rt. Rev. msgr. Leo Keenan pastor,  422 No 2nd St.

Source: 1951 City Directory

“Face-Lifting for St. James Church Provides New Foyer” A new foyer will add 14 feet to the church front and will enclose the steps
foyer will provide more favorable conditions for processions, less snow shoveling.

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O & Rockford Morning Star  6/1/1952

“Fire Damage at Cathedral Near $10,000” Damages of $7,500 to $10,000 were caused by the fire Wednesday

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O & Rockford Register Republic 2/13/1958

“1,000 Bid farewell to Msgr Keenan” farewell reception in Verdi Hall for Rt Rev Msgr Leo Keenen Keenan has been pastor at St. James since 1950. Keenan beings a new assignment as pastor of St. Patrick’s church, Rochelle, IL

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O & Rockford Register Republic 1/4/1960

“31 on Hand for Church Blessing in 1867” Rockford’s first Catholic Church founded June 7, 1853 by the Rev. John Hampston
frame church at N 2nd and Prairie Sts. Today the church has about 1,800 families and 450 pupils attend its grade school. Church property includes a convent at LaFayette Avenue. Rt. Rev. Msgr. H. A. Meilenger is the pastor, assisted by  Revs Paul Fry, Frank Zimmerman. St James is the Mother Church of 3 parishes organized since 1908: St. Anthony, Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Stanislaus.

Source: Rockford Register Republic 9/22/1960

St. James Pro-Cathedral, Rev. Norbert M Richter, pastor. The second church, constructed after the Civil War, was begun by Rev. John Donelan and completed by Rev. Jeremiah O’Neill. Marriage and a baptism recorded on Nov 29, 1851. first St. James School was constructed Aug 30, 1891 2nd school (replacing the 1st) in 1967, classes Jan 3, 1968. Rosary Society, Holy Name Society, CYO group.

Source:  Rockfordiana Catholic Churches – H – O & Rockford Morning Star 6/7/1969

“Boundary Change Set by Bishop” Change in the boundary line between St James and Holy Family announced by Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O & Rockford Register Star 10/3/1970

“St. James first to plan on bingo” when it becomes legal again in Illinois on Oct. 1 St. James helped support its programs through bingo proceeds before illegal in Illinois under the new law, 10% of the intake will be returned to the state revenue department parish will apply for $200 bingo license as soon as forms become available.

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O &  Rockford Morning Star 8/25/1971

St. James Catholic Church map

Source: google maps


Oldest Catholic Church in area, but comparative latecomer to Rockford. Settlers to this area were largely from New England, and not Catholic. Coming of the railroads, with Irish workmen and families, brought Catholicism. a parcel of land was purchased where St James rectory now stands. parish records show a marriage and baptism Nov 29, 1851. In 1855 the first Saint James Parochial school was founded in a one room building early classes were taught by lay people the Dominican Sisters from Sinsinawa coming into the next school in 1892. The cornerstone of the church as laid April 28, 1867 with dedication and first services. The Reverend Butlers, brothers active in community, one was pres. of Rockford Public library. Bishop P. J. Muldoon came to Rockford in 1908 and selected St. James as his Pro-cathedral.

Source:  Nuggets of History July-August 1972

“Fund raising drive buys church bus” photo: Father James Wentrick handles the wheel in a test drive. 66 passenger school bus will be used to transport senior citizens and youth groups. Sharon and Terry Westheimer helped organize the bus fund drive. trading stamps bought gifts that were sold, raffles were held, an outdoor carnival. a food stand outside the Jaycees haunted house the children from St. James School will also need to use the bus.

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O Rockford Public Star 2/13/1973

“St James pastor honored” Rev Norton Richter honored by 20 fellow priest on 40th anniversary of ordination.

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O & Rockford Register Star 6/8/1981

“St James, Rockford, recalls century of Catholic education” Four photos, focus of a special celebration at St. James later this month Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, Sept 21 at 2:00 p.m., reception afterwards in gym. The current school erected during his pastorate in 1967. Currently, 220 pupils in 8 grades. There are 10 classroom teachers – all lay people; 3 part-time teachers, 3 part-time sisters. Top school enrollment was in 1958-59 when St. James had 542 students. In 1892 increasing enrollment  of almost 200 pupils necessitated building a new building. In 1907, Pastor Thomas Finn worked it out so school was free. Parish opened a high school in 1910 – 2 years later it was moved to W State (St Thomas). A new school built in 1967.

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O &  Observer 9/5/1985

“St James installs new priest”  Father David Kagan hopes to see renovation of church’s sanctuary completed by Sept of 1992. Kagan is a Spring Grove native, Rockford resident for 11 years

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O & Rockford Register Star 10/11/1990

St. James Pro Catherdral

St. James Church Celebrating 150 Years. First church built, photograph of church in 1853 more pictures in Rockfordiana, Catholic        Churches – H – O

Source: Rockfordiana, Catholic Churches – H – O

St. James Pro Catherdral

Source: Rockford Today (1904)