Centennial Mass on Sept. 19 at St. Joseph’s in Hopedale

HOPEDALE — When the members of St. Joseph’s Church gather to celebrate their faith community’s centennial on Saturday, Sept. 19, they’ll have one very proud pastor cheering them on.

“The people of St. Joseph’s have always amazed me,” said Father Gerald Verdun, who has served them since 2000. “They are spread out over six different zip codes and have children in three different school districts. And our parish is tucked away in a place that covers parts of three counties — Logan, McLean and Tazewell.

“But even though they’re spread out like that, they still manage to pull together when something needs to be done,” he said. “That has really been a big help to me.”

Their latest efforts have been directed at planning their 100th anniversary, which begins with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at 4 p.m. He will also give the homily.

Concelebrating with Bishop Jenky will be Father Verdun, who is also pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Delavan; Father Tim Nolan, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Pekin; and Father Donald Henderson, parochial vicar of St. Philomena’s Parish in Peoria and a former pastor of the Hopedale parish.
A social and buffet dinner by reservation only will follow at Hopedale Commons East.

Because of the size of the church, Father Verdun has asked that visitors attend another Mass so parishioners can be present for the liturgy with Bishop Jenky.

Father Andrew Stapleton, pastor of St. Mary’s in Delavan, organized the Catholic families in the Hopedale area in 1909, celebrating Mass for them in the town hall every other weekend until St. Joseph’s Church could be built in 1911.

The first Mass in the new church was offered on June 25, 1911. Bishop Edmund M. Dunne joined parishioners a week later to dedicate the building.

Father Verdun has been the pastor since 2000.

In preparation for the centennial celebration parishioners came together to do some remodeling. They replaced mismatched bricks in the steeple that had been there since a lightning strike in 1978. In addition there are new cement steps in front of church and new landscaping, thanks to parishioners Brad Long, Jeff Springer, George Long, Jim Kneip and Jim Hoffman.

The Scripture passage chosen for the centennial celebrations seems to embody what the faith community has always demonstrated: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

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