St. Maria Goretti Parish, Coal Valley, will celebrate 50 years with Mass July 17

St. Maria Goretti Church in Coal Valley serves about 200 households.

COAL VALLEY — Bishop Louis Tylka will join the members of St. Maria Goretti Church on Sunday, July 17, to celebrate the parish’s golden anniversary. The Mass, which will be concelebrated by Father Tony Ego, pastor, will begin at 10 a.m.

Previous pastors are also expected to attend.

Founded in 1965, St. Maria Goretti started as a mission of St. Ambrose Parish in Milan. At that time, Father John Callahan and Father Raymond Lukoskie, his assistant, offered Mass at the American Legion in Coal Valley. The mission’s first church was the former Trinity Lutheran Church, which was purchased by the Diocese of Peoria on July 1, 1967.

St. Maria Goretti became a parish on June 1, 1972, with Father Robert Schladen as the first pastor.

It was during Father Duane Jack’s tenure as pastor from 1981 to 1991 that a new church and parish hall were built. Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke was on hand to celebrate the Mass of Dedication on Sept. 9, 1984.

According to a history of the parish written for the 40th anniversary, parishioners rejoiced in their new church but did not forget the past. A wooden cross made from the timber of the old church was placed behind the altar, the stained-glass windows were kept and reframed, and the pipe organ was rebuilt.

In 2018, parishioners took up the challenge of repairing and renovating their church when a driver suffered a medical emergency and lost control of his pickup truck. It came through the southwestern brick wall, damaging pews, the altar, crucifix, electronic piano and ambo.

Masses were celebrated in the parish hall until the faith community could return to the refurbished church on July 7, 2019.

St. Maria Goretti serves about 200 households.

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