A History of St. Patrick Parish
St. Patrick's of Wadsworth Parish is located in Wadsworth, Illinois, part of Vicariate IB of the Chicago Archdiocese.
Our parish, originally known as St. Andrew’s, began in a log church constructed in 1849 in Mill Creek. Fifteen years later a larger frame church was built and the name was changed to St. Patrick’s.
In 1911 land was purchased to build a new church in Wadsworth, this would become the white frame church that we fondly refer to as the “Old Church” today. Before it was completed the church in Mill Creek burned down, but in August 1912 the Wadsworth church was completed and dedicated.
This “new” church served the area well until the explosion of new housing began in the 1980s. The need for a larger church and a multipurpose building (now known as the Boehm Center) became apparent to the pastor at that time, Fr. George Dyer, and the long range planning group he had established.
It is a credit to the good people of St. Patrick’s (who were very satisfied with the Old Church) that they opened their hearts and pocketbooks to make the new facilities a reality for newcomers. After many meetings, architects Belli & Belli were chosen. Jerzy Kenar, a wood sculptor, was picked by the parish Art & Environment Committee to design the interior furnishings and sculptures. The architects, sculptor and committees proceeded with the new designs following guidelines found in Environment & Art in Catholic Worship, Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1978).
On Saturday, May 11, 1991 Fr. Dyer celebrated the first Mass in the New Church for 84 children who received their First Communion. The dedication took place a few months later on September 15, 1991. Father Dyer retired December 31, 1995 and was succeeded by Reverend Patrick Cecil the following March.
The final phase of construction, the completion of the school addition with its all-purpose hall, was begun in August 1997 and dedicated on February 15, 1998. As proud as we are of the New Church and school addition, we try never to lose sight of the fact that the most important part of any church is THE PEOPLE.
Father Cecil remained our faithful pastor for almost twenty years, until October, 2010, when he was succeeded by the next Pastor, Reverend Fred Pesek. Fr. Pesek served as the "shepherd" to our St. Pat's flock from October 2010 until his transfer at the end of June, 2016. On July 1, 2016 Reverend James Merold became our Parish Administrator until a new pastor could be named.
Architecture and Features of the New Church:
(Perhaps many have wondered about…)
Because Baptism is our first sacrament, one which places us in union with Christ, the Baptistry was placed at the entrance to the nave (the main body of the Church). The Baptismal font’s size and sturdiness make a statement about the importance of our first sacrament. The sculptor Jerzy Kenar used three support legs to remind us of the Trinity. The legs themselves resemble the bark of a tree, while the broken tile on the floor is symbolic of the Jordan River where Christ was baptized.
Bells & Tower
When Mother of God Church in Waukegan, a primarily Slovenian parish, consolidated with two other churches, St. Pat’s was able to obtain the bells which had been installed in that church’s belfry in 1922. The three bronze bells, hand cast in Yugoslavia, weigh from 1000 to 2600 pounds.
After being refurbished new clappers for electronic ringing were installed. At Mother of God the bells had been tolled by rope or by climbing the tower and doing it by hand. At our new church, they were programmed to ring automatically fifteen minutes and one minute prior to each mass, as well as at the end of mass. After a funeral, the bells toll; following a wedding, they chime. The Angelus rings at noon and 6:00pm.
We are extremely grateful to those from Mother of God Church, both living and dead, for their part in purchasing and maintaining the bells through the years, especially during the Great Depression. Our history has melded with theirs. The 7800 pound fabricated steel bell tower and the bells were installed here on December 16, 1992. The bell tower was designed by Belli & Belli.
Early in the Building Fund Drive it was decided to save the offerings from the children’s envelopes for a special window in the Eucharistic Chapel. Over $35,000 was collected. After designs were submitted by some of the school and SRE program students, Jerzy Kenar made a sketch using several of the drawings. The stained glass design is the children’s perception of the Eucharist, arranged in such a way that it still enables a great deal of light to enter the chapel.
Eucharistic Chapel & Tabernacle
The church was designed with the “action” of the mass (particularly the Eucharist) as the primary focus. The guidelines referred to above called for a separate room for the tabernacle where the Eucharist is held as an object for private devotion; here the Eucharist is also “reserved” for the sick. Thus a distinction is made between public worship in the main body of the church and private devotion in the chapel. Of course the chapel is also used for overflow crowds when the church is full.
The altar and ambo are sturdy and impressive so that action can be focused on each during mass. Each has three legs to symbolize the Trinity and their surfaces represent the bark of the trees outside. The priest’s and deacon’s chairs are slightly off to one side rather than in the middle because the guidelines call for neither “domination nor remoteness.”
The oils are located to the right of the baptismal font as you enter. One bottle contains the Oil of Catechumens, which is used for anointing prior to Baptism. Another bottle contains Sacred Chrism, used immediately after Baptism and for Confirmation. The third contains Oil of the Sick used at the Anointing of the Sick (formerly called Extreme Unction).
Several years ago, the Ministry of Bereavement brought forth the idea of a Parish Memorial Garden. Almost all materials needed for the original garden were donated, and with the help of several very dedicated people in the Bereavement Ministry the garden was completed. It was dedicated and blessed by Fr. George Dyer at the annual Memorial Service in November, 1995. A children’s section was always part of the plan. In the fall of 1997, a St. Pat’s Boy Scout, Scott Rhodes, took on the children’s section of the garden as a Leadership Project. The work was completed in the fall of 1998.
The process of coming together is really the beginning of warship. The Narthex is the place to linger after the liturgy and enjoy meeting old and new friends. It was essential that a community noted for its friendliness should have a large gathering place. Indeed many at the Town Hall church planning meetings had expressed the need to maintain the intimacy this Parish felt in our old church. (To further this idea the architects used curved walls in the nave to symbolize that we are embraced in the arms of the Church).
In the early Church, the Cross was rarely used publicly by Christian because of fear of persecutions. In the fourth century, however, peace came to the Church through Constantine.
The early Christians preferred the bare cross because they saw it as the symbol of Christ’s victory through his resurrection. Our own cress refers back to this ancient concept. The intertwined members recall how Jesus embraced our death in his and assured our rising with him. The opening between the timers allows us to look at the world beyond. It is a promise of our own resurrection. The cross is shaped from cedar wood which is nearly indestructible and was designed by wood sculptor, Jerzy Kenar. It was erected in 1994.
The Paschal (Easter) Candle is a symbol of the resurrected Christ and His victory over death and sin. It remains in the sanctuary from Easter through Pentecost; after that it is found by the baptismal font.
St. Patrick’s Window
Parishioners at one of the early Town Hall meetings, before the building program began, indicated a strong desire to include something from the Old Church. The window was refurbished, reframed and hung in the Narthex. It is a reminder of all those who had established and maintained a church in Wadsworth.
We are accustomed to depictions of the resurrected Christ with arms uplifted. Jerzy created a Risen Christ modeled on the Savior’s third appearance to the disciples after His death. He stands beside the fish He has prepared for his followers. They look at Jesus in awe as He extends an invitation to eat. He offers that same invitation to us in the Eucharist.
The shrine to the left as you enter the church worship area is “The Holy Family.” In biblical times Mary could have been stoned for being unmarried and with child, but Joseph took her in rather than expose her to such a fate. This scene depicts a compassionate Joseph welcoming a young pregnant Mary into his home. In this portrayal of the Holy Family Jerzy has captured the sadness and difficulties that constantly appear in our lives (rather than portray a simplified, idealistic grouping of the Holy Family).
In keeping with the Bishops’ guidelines, the architects have set the shrines to the sides away from the main line of visions so they do not interrupt or distract from the action taking place in the sanctuary. However, when mass is not being celebrated, the shrines beckon you to devotion, contemplation and reflection.
Stations of the Cross
Although the fourteen stations in our church are not the traditional ones, those that you see in the back of the nave more closely follow what is actually written in the New Testament. Therefore they begin with “The Last Supper” rather than “The Agony in the Garden,” and they conclude with “The Resurrection” rather than with “Jesus is Laid in the Tomb.” The Pope used this updated version on Good Friday in 1991. The Stations have the same shape as the large windows in the nave of both the old and new churches.
Stained Glass Windows
The four windows near the Southwest entrance doors represent the four seasons, whereas the windows near the Northeast entrance capture the moods of dawn, daylight, dusk and night.
Windows behind the Altar
The architects successfully designed a church where the occupants could hear and see the action at the altar. In addition, they planned the windows so that the assembly could look out at the changing scene, ever reminding us of the close-knit integration of our church, our community and our God.