“Faith consists of believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”
Organized religion played a major role in the settling of Illinois and continues to influence the culture of our region. We highlight two places of worship, one in the country and one in the city.
Country Church: Church of St. Mary of the Assumption • Est. 1853
123 S. County Line Road, Maple Park, (815) 827-3205, stmarymaplepark.org
Soon after becoming the first resident pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in St. Charles, around 1853, Fr. Patrick O’Dwyer founded this church, building a wood frame structure on Barney Hill in what was then called Lodi.
Fr. O’Dwyer and surplus priests would hold Mass in DeKalb, sometimes stopping in Lodi as they passed through. In 1861, when St. Mary Parish in DeKalb was formed, Lodi became attached as a mission church, giving it the support it needed to thrive. A bigger wooden church was constructed in 1863, the year Lodi became known as Maple Park.
The church received its first resident pastor in 1871, and in 1913, construction began on a rectory and new brick church. The Gothic-style structure boasts stained glass windows, including several rose windows, an entryway framed by three arches, and arched windows. The first Mass there was in February 1914, and it was dedicated as St. Mary of the Assumption Church in June 1914.
In 1923, the church received a Hook & Hastings organ, purchased from a church in Joliet. An education center was added in 1967, and is now used for CCD classes and parish activities. In 1994, a shrine to the Madonna was erected in front of the church.
Today, 241 families are registered with the parish, led by Fr. Dennis Morrissey, parochial administrator. Mass is held Monday-Thursday and each first Friday at 7:30 a.m., Saturday at 4:15 p.m. and Sunday at 8 and 10:30 a.m.
City Church: United Methodist Church of Geneva • Est. 1871
211 Hamilton St., Geneva, (630) 232-7120, genevaumc.org
The United Methodist Church of Geneva traces its beginnings to the circuit rider.
A Methodist New England preacher named Hiram G. Warner came to town in 1837, and the First United Methodist Church in Geneva was built in 1850. The Swedish Methodist Church was founded in Geneva in 1871 and purchased its first building in 1873, at First and James streets.
The First United Methodist Church built a new structure at Second and Hamilton streets in 1874; the Swedish Methodist Church, its name changed to the Emmanuel Methodist Church, in 1907 erected a new structure at Third and Hamilton, which still stands today. In 1948, the two congregations merged, becoming The Methodist Church of Geneva. After the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren denominations combined, it became the United Methodist Church of Geneva in 1969.
A southwest addition was constructed in 1958; a three-story addition to the north (including a basement, Sunday School rooms, kitchen and large meeting room) was dedicated in 1982. A new sanctuary, with seating for 450, and office wing to the north of the original stone building were added and consecrated on Jan. 31, 1999. The old sanctuary was converted into Fellowship Hall, a choir room, Sunday School classrooms, and a library and office space.
Today’s congregation is led by The Rev. Bill Obalil, senior pastor. Worship services are held on Sundays at 8, 9 and 10:45 a.m.