St. Malachy, Geneseo, marking 150 years of parish life with Mass, statue blessing Oct. 9

St. Malachy Church and School in Geneseo.

GENESEO — Even before the Diocese of Peoria was established in 1877, the Catholic faith was blooming in Beautiful Valley, the Indian name for Geneseo. On Sunday, Oct. 9, members of St. Malachy Parish here will celebrate 150 years of prayer and good works with a Mass at 10:30 a.m.

During the liturgy, a statue of St. Malachy that was commissioned for the 150th anniversary year, will be blessed.

Former pastors and neighboring pastors are welcome to join Father Michael Pakula, who has led the faith community since 1995, at the liturgy. A luncheon, games and musical program will follow.

In preparation for the celebration — and in keeping with the Jubilee Year of Mercy — St. Malachy’s Social Justice Committee has posed a different “150 Acts of Mercy Challenge” each month, starting with collecting diapers for the Geneseo Food Pantry and Pregnancy Resource Center. More than 250 were collected.

Other acts of mercy include:

  • February: Writing and distributing 300 Valentine cards to those who are shut in or residents in area nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • March: Working with the Altar and Rosary Society to collect new underwear and essential items of clothing for area shelters.
  • April: Distributing more than 150 packets of sunflower seeds to be planted as a reminder to be good stewards of the earth.
  • May: Collecting 150 books for Mary Ann’s Project, which gives prisoners an opportunity to record books for their children. Parishioners raised more than $1,500 to support the project.
  • June: Inviting at least 150 parishioners to participate in the Music Fest Parade.
  • July: Collecting items for students in need.
  • August: Donating 276 boxes of breakfast cereal to provide assistance in feeding children as school began.

In September, parishioners are focusing on ways to help those with mental health issues. Before the year ends, parishioners will raise awareness of vocations, honor current and former service members, and help the homeless and those in need through a “giving tree.”

FIRST MASS IN 1957

Father John George Alleman, OP, celebrated the first Mass in Henry County in Geneseo in 1857. At that time, he had pastoral care for all the territory along the Mississippi River north of St. Louis.

The first St. Malachy Church was built on Russell Avenue in 1866 and by 1899, construction of a new church for the growing community began. Ground was broken for the current church on Ogden Avenue in 1987 and it was dedicated on July 2, 1989, by Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke.

A major building and renovation project added new school and church offices, kitchen, school cafeteria, gym and recess area, and art and music room in 2011.

St. Malachy School opened in 1923 with 50 students taught by the Sinsinawa Dominicans. They left in 1972. Over the years, the school has been expanded and now enrolls students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

For a more detailed history, visit saintmalachy.org.

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