Year-long celebration: St. Gall plans centennial events

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—When geneology and history buff Laura Chapman, who is director of liturgy at St. Gall Church, saw that the church would mark its 100th year as a parish, her mind started working on how the congregation could celebrate that anniversary. She came up with the idea of having an event each month that focused on history in some way.

“I love history. I love genealogy. That percolated into ‘Let’s do stuff on genealogy. Let’s do stuff on parish history,’” Chapman said. “These events highlight three levels of history and heritage: our own personal family history, parish history and overall church history.”

Chapman put together a committee of 35 volunteers who will choose various projects for their focus. Chapman and her husband, Deacon Mark Chapman, will chair the overall effort.

The personal and family history will be highlighted by two genealogy workshops in January and February. The first workshop trained participants in the basics of genealogical research methods so that they can help invest history as the year progresses.

These committee members will research early families whose names appear as memorials on the church’s stained glass windows. They will locate descendants of early parishioners and involve them in the events. An important project is to record the oral histories of long-time parish members. Also, they will transcribe parish sacramental records in need of preservation. The goal at the end of the centennial year is to publish a St. Gall parish history.

Parish heritage will be highlighted through a media presentation at Mass on the weekend of Apr. 9 and 10, where oral histories that have been collected will be presented, along with historic photos and a history of the church.

A guided tour of St. Gall Cemetery will take place on May 21, where participants will explore early parish history by learning about the lives of early parishioners.

The biggest effort of the year will be the parish picnic on Aug. 7, when, along with the parish potluck and an outdoor Mass, parishioners can take a history tour of the physical sites around Elburn that have been connected to parish history. They can tour the site of the first church on Keslinger Road, visit homestead farms of early Catholic settlers and learn about the stones in the shelter house at the Elburn Forest Preserve and their connection to St. Gall Church. Guides will conduct tours in each location to allow participants to travel around at their leisure during the event.

The centennial year will retain the well-established annual events such as the Turkey Dinner, in its 128th year in March, and the October Gala, an annual fundraiser that, in its third year last year, made $25,000.

“We’ll dream up ways to historicize regular events,” Chapman said. “We’re taking a teamwork approach. We’re blessed.”

The next event is a parish retreat for all ages on Feb. 27 from noon to 4 p.m. Participants will explore the parish family, the Holy Family and their own family through music, prayer and activities.

For a more complete listing of centennial events, call the parish office at (630) 365-6030.

Year at a glance
Feb. 19: Geneology Workshop No. 2
Feb. 27: All-ages parish retreat
Feb. 15-18 & March 2-5:
Parish directory photo appointments
Mar. 13: Centennial turkey dinner
April 9-10: Media presentation at Masses
May 21: Guided tour of St. Gall Cemetery
June: Historical bridal show (date TBA)
July 3: Memorial Mass at Cemetery,
honoring parish veterans
Aug. 7: Church picnic, outdoor Mass,
history tour
Sept.: Adult faith evening (date TBA)
Oct. 15: Centennial Gala
Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day Luminary Mass
Dec. 2-3: Nativity Display during
Elburn Christmas Stroll

History of THE CHURCH
1851: Forerunner of St. Gall Church is built,
at what is now Kuiper’s Farm, midway
between Blackberry Station (Elburn) and
Lodi (Maple Park). The church is
commonly called the “Hill Church,”
but is eventually named St. Mary’s.
1871: The First St. Gall Church is erected
on First Street at the end of Swain Street
in Elburn. The first Mass is
celebrated on New Year’s Day.
1872: St. Gall becomes a mission church.
1875: 40 families make up the parish.
1911: St. Gall becomes an
independent parish.
1925: A new St. Gall Church is erected on
its present site. The first Mass is
celebrated on Christmas Eve.
The old building is dismantled and its
stones used to construct
the shelter at the Elburn Forest Preserve
in 1934.
1930: The Depression leads the parish to
once again become a mission church.
The parish is served by the chaplain of
the Illinois Training School for Boys
in St. Charles.
1940: St. Gall once again becomes an
independent parish.
1960: 110 families make up the parish.
1970: The parish hall addition is
completed.
1978: The arch of the entryway of
the original “Church of St. Gal (sic),”
which was found in a backyard years
after the old church had been torn down,
is placed on the back wall
as a memorial to the original building.
2000: 687 families make up the parish.
30 acres of land is purchased at the
corner of Route 47 and Hughes Road for
the future St. Gall Parish.
2007: A capital campaign is undertaken
to raise money to build the new church.
2010: 736 families make up the parish.