McHenry and built its first church in 1853. With an addition in 1872 and a remodel in 1883, the church continued to grow and be modified to meet the needs of its congregation. However, by the late 1910s, the parish had reached about 480 people. Also, with the influx of tourists, the membership would swell during the summer months. To accommodate all of its people, St. Patrick’s was offering mass three times a day. Church leadership knew they needed to replace the building altogether. As with most projects like this, the main question centered around how the construction would be funded. Given the size of the congregation, some of the money could be raised internally. However, much of the funds would have to be put together with fundraising and community events.
St. Patrick’s was led by Reverend Father M.J. McEvoy, who was beloved by his followers and well respected in the community. In order to get the funds together, the Church formed committees to spearhead different fundraising efforts, such as the Amusement and Entertainment Committee. As the name implies, this committee would have entertaining events, such as picnics or carnivals that would donate its proceeds to the church building fund. One such event was the Harvest Festival held in September 1921, a massive three-day event at the City Park. The festival was also called a homecoming, as letters were sent out to parishioners who had moved away hoping to get them to attend and help with the effort. During the event, only one of the days had good weather, as the first two were inundated with rain. However, the attendance for the last day, which happened to be Labor Day, was better than expected and the event raised over $3000. Lots of people took advantage and came to McHenry for the “homecoming”.
By June 1922, St. Patrick’s had the funds in place to start erecting the church. The parish selected a Rockford architect firm, Schmeling & Broetzmann to design and construct the church. The estimated cost for construction was $52,000, but with the cost of fixtures and other incidentals, the number moved up to $60,000. The site for the new building was just west of the parsonage and was quickly laid out. The cornerstone ceremony was celebrated on Aug 13, 1922. The Rt. Rev. Bishop P. J. Muldoon of Rockford performed the ceremony, which was attended by several local parishioners and clergy. The cornerstone has two sides facing out, both featuring the Celtic cross. One side of the stone would have the name of the church, as well as the year of the construction. The other side featured an inscription in Latin that translated to “My House shall be called the house of prayer.” Placed beneath the cornerstone was a metal box containing several copies of the McHenry Plaindealer, a few coins, a list of donors, and other documents.
On October 11, the church’s bell was blessed in a ceremony, performed by Bishop Muldoon. The bell was donated by Count O.B. Oberstadt and his wife, Elizabeth Miller. The first to ring the bell was Bishop Muldoon, followed by the donors of the construction of the church. Construction of the church was finished by March and the Church’s dedication took place on March 17, 1923. Fifty priests attended the event, along with twenty other clergymen. The new church fit about 440 people with an additional 200 seats available on the balcony. St. Patrick’s was adorned in white and gold, the Papal colors, which were provided by E.R. McGee. For dedication, the alters and the organ was moved over from the old church. The dedicatory sermon was preached by the Very Reverend Denis J. Dunne Chancellor of the Arch Diocese of Chicago. St. Patrick’s still serves its congregation to this very day, standing as one of the most recognizable of McHenry’s buildings.
- “Festival and Home Coming.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 25 Aug 1921, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
- “Getting Ready For Fete.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 1 Sep 1921, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
- “Festival A Huge Sucess.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 8 Sep 1921, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
- “Will Build New Church.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 8 Jun 1922, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
- “Corner Laying Soon.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 30 Jul 1922, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
- “Laying of Corner Stone.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 10 Aug 1922, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
- “St. Patrick’s Festival.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 24 Aug 1922, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
- “Bell Bless By Bishop.” The McHenry Plaindealer. (McHenry, IL) 12 Oct 1922, 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Mar 2023.
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