St. Mary, Pontiac, to celebrate 150 years of parish life with activities Aug. 21-27

A Sesquicentennial Celebratory Mass will be offered at St. Mary Church in Pontiac at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27. A block party will follow.

PONTIAC — After 150 years of sharing the faith in this Livingston County community, a simple celebration just won’t do for members of St. Mary Parish here. They have planned a week of activities, starting with a parish breakfast on Saturday, Aug. 21, and culminating with a Mass and block party on Saturday, Aug. 27.

Msgr. Paul Showalter, vicar general of the Diocese of Peoria, will preside at the Sesquicentennial Celebratory Mass at 4 p.m. He will be joined by Father David Sabel, pastor; Father Adam Cesarek and Father William Keebler, parochial vicars; and several priests who have served at St. Mary over the years.

A block party will follow, with Msgr. Showalter offering an apostolic blessing and the St. Mary’s Choir singing the national anthem as part of the opening ceremony.

The family-friendly celebration continues until 10 p.m. and will include food, drinks, indoor and outdoor games for people of all ages, and musical entertainment. Organizers said the highlight this year is a performance by All American Dueling Pianos.

A souvenir booklet with St. Mary’s history, a new parish cookbook, and sesquicentennial memorabilia, such as t-shirts, polo shirts and hoodies, will be available.

The Knights of Columbus will host the opening breakfast on Aug. 21. It will be held in the parish hall and feature nearly 40 groups that are active at St. Mary.

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, a Patriotic Rosary will be prayed at 5 p.m. in the church. Among the special intentions are the veterans of St. Mary who have served their country.

Parishioners will honor those who went before them during a Mass at St. Mary’s Cemetery at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24.

FIRST MASS IN 1857

The first Mass in Pontiac was celebrated by Father Michael Hurley in 1857, a year after the town was incorporated. St. Mary Parish was established in 1866, when area Catholics bought the Methodist church at the corner of Main and Livingston for $2,000 and converted it.

The first Mass in the current brick church was celebrated in 1887. It has been enlarged over the years to include a sanctuary and wings on the east and west, and was renovated in 1976 and 1999.

St. Mary’s Cemetery was begun in 1872.

St. Mary School opened in 1903 and a new school was built in 1958. A school addition, gymnasium and parish hall were completed in 2007.

The parish is credited as the first in the diocese to establish perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, starting in 1983.

Today St. Mary Parish is the spiritual home for more than 900 registered families.

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