“Though we may know Him by a thousand names, He is one and the same to us all.”
Organized religion played a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to influence the culture of our region. We enjoy highlighting places of worship, one in the country and one in the city, in each issue.
Country Church: Little Home Church By the Wayside United Church of Christ • Est. 1871
32W128 Army Trail Road, Wayne, Ill., (630) 584-4013, littlehomechurch.org
The seeds of this Congregational Church were sown in 1834, by early settlers of Wayne Township who first held services in each other’s homes, and then in a prairie schoolhouse. The building was constructed in 1851 by a group of Congregationalists who later moved to Bartlett.
Five former members of that congregation joined with 13 other people in 1871 to form a new church at Wayne Station (now Wayne), and it was dedicated that same year.
Improvements over the years included replacing the original free-standing pews with opera chairs in 1890; the addition of a belfry provided by the town shoemaker; and purchase of an organ. The Rev. Orlando S. Grinnell, assigned to the church in 1918, wrote a hymn for its 50th anniversary in 1921, titled “The Little Home Church By the Wayside.” In 1930, the church interior was remodeled in a New England style of architecture, and in 1940, the “The Little Home Church By the Wayside” was adopted as its official name.
When the church celebrated its 100th Anniversary in February 1971, former parishioners from as far away as California and Oregon attended the special service and luncheon, with descendants of four charter members present.
As part of the United Church of Christ, today’s congregation is led by the Rev. Ron Purser. Sunday worship and Sunday School are held weekly at 9:30 a.m.
City Church: St. John Neumann Catholic Church • Est. 1977
2900 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 377-2797, stjohnneumannchurch.org
For 143 years, the Roman Catholics of St. Charles had just one church: St. Patrick Parish on Cedar Street, established in 1834.
In the summer of 1977, a land donation to the Rockford Diocese allowed for the establishment of a new eastside church, to serve the city’s growing Catholic community. The donors, Gertrude and Maurice Regole, wanted the parish name to honor their deceased son John; on June 19, Bishop Arthur O’Neill named it after John Neumann, fourth Bishop of Philadelphia, on the very day he was canonized a saint.
St. John’s first pastor, Fr. Daniel Hermes, began building a congregation at every St. Patrick Mass held that July, asking residents to celebrate Mass with him at the Ramada Inn. From this group, Hermes formed a building committee and organized a fundraising campaign led by parish volunteers. The construction plans included a grade school.
The cornerstone of the new building was laid in July 1979, and Bishop O’Neill led the first Mass at St. John Neumann on Dec. 9. It shares school facilities with St. Patrick, and the two groups have maintained a strong bond. Parishioners added a new wing with a family center, classrooms, offices and meeting rooms.
Fr. Bob Hoffmann became pastor in 1989. Continued growth throughout the 1990s brought plans for a new church and chapels, and renovated office and meeting areas. Parishioners pledged $5.6 million – half the estimated cost – and construction began in summer 2000. Featuring beautiful art pieces, murals and stained glass, the new church, dedicated on Feb. 10, 2002, seats 1,500 and has a state-of-the-art sound system. More intimate worship is held in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel.
Today, serving nearly 3,000 households, St. John is the seventh-largest parish in the Diocese, led by Fr. Rich Rosinski, its third pastor. Mass is held in Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel from Mon.-Fri. at 7:30 a.m. and Sat. at 8:30 a.m. Church Mass is held Sat. at 5:15 p.m. and Sun. at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon. ❚