Centennial Mass Aug. 30 at St. Mary’s Parish, DePue

DEPUE — St. Mary’s Parish here will celebrate 100 years of faith next Sunday, Aug. 30, with a 4 p.m. bilingual Mass that reflects the rich and diverse Catholic history of this Bureau County community on the northern shores of Lake DePue.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will be principal celebrant of the Mass, assisted by Father Kevin Creegan, who has been pastor or administrator of St. Mary’s for five years. Area priests and former pastors who served the parish have been invited to concelebrate.

A dinner will follow in the parish hall. The public is invited to both events, but reservations are requested for the dinner.

Father Creegan called the centennial “a special event” for the parish and said members have been busy “sprucing up” the church and grounds in preparation for Bishop Jenky’s visit.

“There is a lot of history here, with families that go way back,” he told The Catholic Post.

The town, which now boasts about 1,700 citizens, had a predominantly Polish population when its Catholic parish was organized and a white frame church was dedicated to St. Mary of Czestochowa in 1909.

Through the years, however, the population diversified. A local zinc plant once employed hundreds and drew immigrants from not only Poland but other nations including Slovenia, Spain, and Mexico. Eventually the parish name was changed to simply “St. Mary’s.”

The parish today embraces 230 households and includes a growing Hispanic population, some drawn by the Monterey Mushrooms facility outside of town. The most crowded of St. Mary’s three weekend Masses is Sunday’s noon liturgy in Spanish.

The church includes images of both Our Lady of Czestochowa and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Two fires have shaped the history of St. Mary’s Parish. In 1917, a blaze destroyed the original rectory and school — a converted hotel built when DePue was known as a resort town. A brick rectory was completed the following year, and a school staffed by Felician Sisters was soon added. School activities ceased during the Depression years and the building became known as St. Mary’s Hall.

A second fire destroyed the original frame church in 1924. The present brick structure of modified Romanesque design was erected the following year. It was most recently renovated in 2003, with costs covered through fundraisers of the St. Anne Sodality and a bequest from the estate of Pearl Drennan.

Reservations for St. Mary’s Centennial dinner are requested by Sunday, Aug. 23. Tickets are $10 (or $5 per child under age 10). Current parishioners can reserve a place at the dinner by dropping payment in a marked envelope into the parish collection basket. Out-of-town guests are invited to mail payment to Annabelle Bryant, P.O. Box 1068, DePue, IL, 61322, or call her at (815) 228-1352.

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