ST MONICA HISTORY Blending Our Past, Present and Future.
Those who have fallen in love with and grown with St. Monica Parish of Carpentersville can tell many wonderful stories blending the past, the present and future as it celebrates the 50thAnniversary of its Founding. It is difficult to capture all the stories of God’s blessings, of the struggles, the celebrations and challenges in just a few words, but we can see the seeds of faith and love growing in the lives of hundreds and thousands of parishioners journeying to become God’s holy and happy people through the years. With a long list of good and caring parishioners, St. Monica Church tried its best to live the first 50 years worthily before God. The humble beginnings were laid down by Fr. John Reagan, who was the pastor of St. Catherine Church in Dundee and who ministered to a few fervent believers as a mission church. The former Curtis Candy Company barn had been turned into a chapel for the growing population in the Meadowdale subdivision. Three years later, on October 7, 1957 it became a separate parish known as St. Monica Catholic Church. Many members of the parish were blue-collar workers and their families who had migrated from Chicago, seeking a better and less complicated life in the country. Many home-owners were World War II and Korean War Veterans. The Besinger Association built the subdivision of Meadowdale, which later acquired a new name as Carpentersville. It became a metropolis of the Fox Valley area. The Association donated lands for church sites, fraternal organizations and school campuses. Benevolent people like Anuta Harms who owned Bonnie Dundee Golf Course, Don McNeil of Breakfast Club fame, and the Steffan Brothers Company - helped establish the parish of St. Monica. In time Carpentersville welcomed and supported families coming from various nationalities and cultures. Fr. Edmund Petit (1957-1964) was the first pastor. The donated wide piece of land with existing buildings made it easier to realize their dream of becoming a beautiful parish. The huge barn was converted into a church and classrooms for catechism, the three residential houses became the parish office and rectories. A gym was constructed under his guidance in 1960 in an attempt to start a Catholic School, but Religious Sisters were unavailable to administer and teach at the time and plans for the school died out.
Fr Thomas Neville (1964-1970), who served as second pastor, was challenged to implement significant renewal in the church brought about by the Vatican II. He engaged Architect James R. Cronin to design and build a beautiful, dignified, modern church. To this day, stories can be heard of how the members rallied behind Fr. Neville in supporting this project. The church was consecrated on March 23, 1968 by the Most Rev. Arthur J. O’Neill, Bishop of Rockford. Fr. Adolph Weideman (1970-1974) with Fr. John Slampak, the associate priest at the time, led the parish in coming to understand the changes and challenges of the renewal movement in the church. Changes were also underway in our town and our parish. Original families saw their children reached adulthood: some served in the Vietnam War, some went to college and others married and moved away. Employment and job opportunities changed and many families moved to different communities.
Fr. Bernard Mullane (1974-1986) introduced lay people as Eucharistic ministers and lectors into the parish in keeping with renewal in the church. A group of dedicated men parishioners welcomed the diocesan invitation for special formation to become permanent deacons. In 1978Michael Giambalvo, John Kohler, J. Aimee LaPlante, Richard Linstad and George Steinhable were ordained as permanent deacons, followed by John Bach, Thaddeus Ciochon, Robert Demming, Gerald Mueller, John Pendergast and Donald Raef in 1979. Michael Frazier and Dennis Garber were ordained into the diaconate in 1982. Sr. Marita Driscoll, OLSH served as the Directress of the Religious Education Program. Fr. Mullane welcomed more and more Hispanic people into the parish as Bishop O’Neill showed as special pastoral concern for them in the entire diocese. During this time Fr. Walter Johnson and Fr. Robert Willhite were assigned to minister to the Hispanic communities in the McHenry Deanery, and found many parishioners of St. Monica very receptive to Hispanic pastoral programs. In addition, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart joined the outreach program with the wonderful presence of Srs. Francisca, Rogelina, and Angelica and in later years Rosa Maria. Fr. William Knott (1986-1990) followed as pastor, aiding St. Monica Parish in its growth and changes. His straightforward pastoral approach brought many to a deeper faith, while others struggled with his ways. His great love for his dog, “Hoffer,” is well remembered and tempered his pastoral care, especially for the children.
Fr. Thomas Risley (1990-2000) was assigned to the parish, serving as pastor until his sudden death in January 2000. He was knowledgeable in the Spanish language and culture, having spent time in the country of Peru as a priest. Many Hispanic families had joined the parish by this time, and priests who could minister to both English and Spanish speaking parishioners were in demand. The jolly and charismatic Fr. J Robert Camacho was assigned as Associate and showed his pastoral care for all. The Passionist Sisters were invited to serve the community. Well remembered religious Sisters were Srs. María Antonia Cruz, Enedina Lulo & Ernestina Zapata, Paz G. Bucio, currently Sor. Julieta Mondragon is greatly involved in the pastoral parish ministry. Fr. Risley and Fr. Camacho encouraged the religious organizations of men and women, introduced programs to build the entire community of St. Monica as one unified family. Bilingual Masses were introduced throughout the year. St. Monica Fest was started by the community and has been well-attended and enjoyed year after year. Parish membership continued to grow and it was during this time the priests and people began dreaming and talking of expanding the church building.
Fr. William Schuessler (2000-2005) came as more and more families continued to move into our area. St. Monica Parish blossomed, establishing more programs, ministries and organizations to take care of the various pastoral and family needs of the people. Christian formation of parish leaders and members became the primary focus. The Holy Name Society, Lady’s Sodality and St. Vincent de Paul Society responded willingly to the increasing demand for their services. In subsequent years, many associate pastors have served St. Monica Parish. Among them were
Frs. Fabio Garzon, Andres Salinas, Oscar Cortes, Lisandro Cristancho who all worked
particularly with the Hispanic community
Frs. Fabio Garzon, Andres Salinas, Oscar Cortes, Lisandro Cristancho; who all worked particularly with the Hispanic community. Fr. Uriel Lopez (2005-2006) as pastor, brought to life plans for the church expansion project dreamed by all in the past fifteen years. Pastoral and Finance Councils were reorganized to coordinate the programs to meet the fast-growing pastoral needs of the parishioners. His youthful and pleasing personality brought more life to the parish. Fr. Moises Apostol (2006-2009) served as the ninth Pastor of St. Monica. He is an incardinated priest from the Philippines. Working with associates Fr. Andres Salinas, Fr Lorenzo Gonzalez, Fr. Josue Lara and Sor. Paz G. Bucio, Fr Moises brought a loving message of unity for the Hispanic and Anglo communities. During his time as pastor, the Hispanic community flourished, along with many parish groups and ministries. In addition to their three full time deacons, John Bach, Michael Frazier & Dennis Garber, St Monica was blessed with yet another newly ordained Deacon Poli Jimenez. St Monica celebrated its 50th year as a parish in October 2007. Fr Moises made great progress with the desire to build an addition to the church, but a downward economy out that project on hold. With the formation of the Pastoral Planning committee, Fr Moises began to set the parish on track creating vision and mission statements to further unify the parishioners and keep our sights on common goals.
On July 1, 2009, Fr Ariel Valencia (2009-2010) served as Pastor of St Monica Parish. Ordained in 2003, Fr Ariel served at St Margaret Mary (Algonquin), St James (Belvidere), St John the Baptist (Somonauk), St Joseph (Freeport) & St Mary (Freeport). During his short time he solidified many of the parish ministries, sharing his youthfulness, friendship and compassion with all.
Since September 2010, Fr. Josue R. Lara has been the Parish Administrator. His unending energy, strength and commitment is making it possible for St Monica to continue onward to whatever the future holds. Currently, there are seven masses offered each weekend; five of which are fully-attended celebrations in Spanish and two in English. There is an average of 900 children attending the Religious Education programs and many pastoral programs and ministries for all. We hope that many will find God’s altar at St. Monica Church. In charity and goodwill; that the parish will continue to become a more diverse, stronger faith community – a true reflection of our Catholic Church.