St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary's Church

“St. Mary’s Catholic Church” by Hazel M. Hyde. One of the oldest churches in Rockford, dates from 1885. Father Edward Murphy came to Rockford to assist Father James Flaherty of St. James. Archbishop sent Fr. Murphy to organize a church on west side of river. Property on the corner of Winnebago and Elm St. was purchased. Mass was celebrated In a hall for 6 months while church was built. First mass was held in basement of church Dec 6, 1885. Cornerstone was laid by Archbishop Feehan July 11, 1886 and the  church was completed in 1887. Father Michael McLaughlin succeeded Father Murphy who was recalled to Chicago. The second pastor died Apr. 20, 1892. The third pastor was Father Patrick McMahon, who arrived in May 1892. McMahon pastorate lasted 27 years. Property adjoining St. Mary’s was purchased, school McMahon pastorate lasted 27 years. Property adjoining St. Mary’s was purchased, school built, new rectory built, new convent became available for the sisters. Debt of $30,000  was liquidated. Father McMahon died April 14, 1919. An army chaplain, Father John Whelan, was appointed July 25, 1925 Father Joseph Lonergan succeeded Whelan. Lonergan’s accomplishments included building of the Lourdes Grotto and The Shrine of the Little Flower. In 1929 Monsignor John McGuire became pastor. Transferred to St James in 1933 Bishop Hoban, the 2nd Bishop of Rockford, was appointed Feb. 10, 1928 Bishop Hoban served until November, 1942. Bishop Hoban placed St. Mary’s Church and St. Thomas High School in the charge of  Augustinian Fathers. The church was redecorated in 1942 under Rev. Father John McGrath, O.S.A. Next was Father William Fink, July 1947- July 1949. for the next three years the pastor was Father Charles D. Clark, O.S.A.

Source: Nuggets of History, Autumn 1988

St. Mary's Church

Source: artist: Frank Fiorello Rockford Morning Star 8/17/1985

St. Mary's Church

Source: artist: Frank Fiorello Rockford Morning Star 8/17/1985

1961 – 1968 Father A.J. Tierney

Source:  Nuggets of History, Autumn 1988