||Fr. R.W. Smyth was assigned to the parish. He purchased the first organ for the
church at a cost of $688.00 and formed the first choir. The parish at the time
consisted of 400 persons.
Fr. Smyth stayed until 1874 and was replaced by Fr. J. Beinke. His parish
consisted of Princeton, Colona, Tiskilwa, Sheffield and Geneseo. Fr. Beinke had
been ministering to the Germans in the area since 1870.
During this time Bishop Foley of Chicago gave First Holy Communion and First
Confirmation in Geneseo.
An Irish priest came to Geneseo by the name of Fr. O'Hara McShane. Fr. McShane
was a devout temperance man going about giving speeches on this subject at
different places. He was transferred to Sheffield in 1877.
The next priest to be assigned was an interim priest, J.J. Grogan.
||At this time the Diocese of Peoria was formed and headed by Bishop Spalding.
||Fr. Grogan was replaced by Fr. Dunne. Fr. Dunne had served as a missionary in
Africa before coming to Geneseo. Fr. Dunne was assisted by Fr. M.L. O’Connor,
who later became Chancellor at the Cathedral in Peoria in May 1884.
||Fr. Dunne had become ill and was unable to continue leading the parish, so Fr.
M. L. O’Connor took over. It was Fr. Dunne who organized the Altar & Rosary
||Fr. Martin Fallihee replaced Fr. O’Connor.
||Fr. O’Hara took over for Fr. Fallihee. Fr. O’Hara purchased the lot next to the
church and a rectory was built. At this time a number of Belgians moved into
the area and, since most were Catholic, the parish grew. A temporary priest
came after Fr. Fallihee. Fr. Hauser came to say Mass in Geneseo and Colona. He
was only here three months.
Fr. Martin Foley came to our parish. Since it had been fifty years since the
first mass was said in Geneseo, Fr. Foley and the parish planned a “Golden
Jubilee” to honor this date. It was also time to build a new church, the parish
having outgrown the old one. The new church would be large enough to seat 400
The corner stone for the new church was laid on December 4th. Most of the walls
were up except the one where the corner stone was to be laid. Bishop O’Reilly
from Peoria was the speaker at the corner stone laying. The cost of building
this second church was $35,000.00. The new church was dedicated on October 27,
||At the end of the previous hundred years, the people would simply say, “The
century has turned.”
||Fr. Foley passed away on January 16th.
||After the death of Fr. Foley, Fr. Enos Barnes came to serve St. Malachy's. Fr.
Barnes was a believer in Catholic education. His concern was to build a school
for that purpose. The school was built at a cost of $48,000 and was for
students from first through eighth grade. Fr. Barnes contracted with the
Dominican Sisters from Sinsinawa, Wisconsin to teach. On August 8th, the
footings for the school were poured and on August 30th, the first teaching
sisters arrived. The church was across the street from the convent and school.
Since the school was not yet ready, classes were held in the convent.
The school opened on December 3rd with an enrollment of fifty students. Seventh
and eighth grade students were taught by Sister Sylvester, fourth, fifth and
sixth grades by Sister Corona and first, second and third by Sister Serverenus
and the housekeeper was Sister Christina. Approximately 50 women gathered to
help prepare for the arrival of the Sisters.
Even though the school was not complete, the nuns made arrangements to teach in
the school hall, basement, and some in the music hall at the convent. At the
end of the school year, an examination was given by the pastor. The results
were so good it gave promise for the future of the school.
||The first graduate was Francis Lipke. The next year two more boys graduated:
Joseph Vandemore and Ambrose Splear.
||Saturday Catechism classes began with 64 students attending.
||Fr. Francis Walsh became pastor. He organized the Boy Scouts. The church was in
need of painting and repairs. There were 800 people in the parish at that time.
Fr. Walsh was killed when struck by a train in 1935.
||Fr. Thomas Jordan came to our parish. It was he who divided the Altar and
Rosary Society into neighborhood groups or Circles. This organization had the
care of the altar, altar cloths and they arranged for Mass to be prayed at the
death of a member. They also took care of the wine and hosts used at Mass. The
parish debt was reduced to $16,000.00 at this time.
||Fr. Edmund Blough became first assistant pastor and in 1940, Fr. Marvin Colgan
became second assistant pastor.
||Fr. Francis Casey was assigned to St. Malachy's and was assisted by Fr. Colgan.
Fr. Casey organized dances for high school students of interdenominational
faiths. They were very popular. New floors were installed in both school and
church, and a Mother’s chapel was built, plus a new front entrance. Fr.Casey
left Geneseo to join the navy as a chaplain in November 1943.
||Fr. Michael Callahan was pastor from August to October 1943.
||Fr. Patrick Martin appointed pastor.
||Fr. H.H. Ross came to Geneseo from being secretary to Bishop Schlarman in
Peoria for 10 years. He was also editor of the Catholic Register before coming
here. Fr. Ross was killed in an automobile accident in 1950.
||Fr. Julius Zane assistant pastor.
||Fr. Lyle Sheen was assigned to St. Malachy's. He was assisted by Fathers Otto,
Minett and Catich from St. Ambrose College. While here, he built a new altar
from native and oriental woods. Fr. Sheen saw the need for a hall to hold
church activities so the hall was built with the help of many parishioners. He
extolled the virtue of healthy eating. He also made and sold bread locally. He
was related to the well know TV personality, Bishop Fulton Sheen. Fr. Sheen was
also assisted by Fr. Francis Dauss.
||Construction of the hall began in July.
||Fr. George Herbach was appointed pastor. During his time as pastor his
assistants included Fr. William Ryan, Fr. Robert Creager and Fr. David Hensen.
It was Fr. Herbach who started a drive to add to the school . The addition was
to cost $75,000.00 and each wage earner was to pledge $250.00 to be paid over a
period of three years. Even though the school increased in size, it was decided
to decrease the number of grades to 6.
||1,831 parishioners (552 families).
||Vatican II began in October.
||Mass in English began in December initiating the first changes decreed by
||The church was remodeled and redecorated.
||In September, the school had the use of four new classrooms. There were four
nuns, four lay teachers and 299 students.
||The final eighth grade graduation was held. The grade school was reduced to the
first six grades.
||Exterior of the church was repaired and cleaned and rectory office was
||2,117 parishioners (602 families).
||After more than 40 years of service to the community, the Dominican Order of
teaching nuns left the parish. Seven lay teachers were hired to start the fall
||The first Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were commissioned.
||The first Parents Club Car-Party was held at the Moose Lodge. Parents Club
members made the food, served it and cleaned up afterwards. Tickets were
$27.50. The following year the Car-Party was held at the Deck.
||Fr. V.J. Valiquette from Rock Island became pastor with Fr. T. J. Perron as
assistant. It was the first year the parish joined the Crop Walk to aid hunger.
||The first annual Jubilee was in July. Fr. Valiquette was here only two years
when he died in a motorcycle accident. Rev. John Naab was assigned pastor in
||Fr. Thomas Mack was appointed assistant pastor just after being ordained. A
reconciliation room was furnished for use in place of the old traditional
confessional booths. Adult Education classes were organized.
||In April, Fr. John Naab left for vacation in Florida and was stricken by a
heart attack and died. Fr. Mack served as administrator for the parish during
May and June.
||Rev. Thomas Brajkovich was appointed new pastor in June.
Fr. Kevin Zerull was appointed as new assistant pastor.
There were approximately 1000 families with 159 pupils in grades 1-6. The church
that was built for 400 parishioners had become too small. It would have been
too costly to remodel the old church and there was not enough ground for a
larger building and more parking. Fr. Brajkovich began the search for property
on which to build a new church. A building committee was formed for planning a
larger facility. Property was found which proved to be unsatisfactory. Then the
property on Ogden Avenue was purchased.
||Because of increased interest, the number of adult education programs were
expanded. St. Malachy's joined the ecumenical “Food Pantry”.
||A five day long parish community retreat proved to be rewarding. The
Ministerial Association, of which St. Malachy's is a member, initiated
formation of the “Employment Hotline” to aid the jobless.
||Harley Chaffee was ordained the first permanent deacon for our parish.
The Fund Drive for the new facility was completed.
Fr. Brajkovich was transferred before the building began.
Fr. John Mahoney was appointed the new pastor of St. Malachy and took over the
job of directing building plans for the new church.
Fr. Valerian Laini, a priest from Tanzania, East Africa assisted Fr. Mahoney for
a few months. A Parish Council was started.
||In June Fr. Rick Oberch came to St. Malachy’s as an assistant pastor.
||Ground was broken and the 3.5 million dollar construction project was begun in
||Walt Verbeck and Harley Harris were ordained permanent deacons. Liz Fristensky
was named Director of Religious Education. The church was to be completed in
On March 29th, members of the parish and Parents Club helped to move the
furnishings from the old school into the new school building. There were many
sad memories from students, now grown, who had attended the old school. The
students marched from the old to the new school.
On Sunday, May 14th, there was a procession from the old church on North Russell
to the new church.
The church is large enough to seat six hundred persons with more room in the
narthex and the chapel. There is a kitchen area, an office and a baptismal area
complete with a fountain which is between the church and chapel. The first
Masses were on May 20th and 21st, 1989. There was an Open House on May 28th.
The Dedication Mass was celebrated on July 2nd, 1989 with Edward W. O’Rourke,
Bishop of Peoria, presiding.
||In September the pastor and children’s choir from our sister parish, St.
Malachy’s in Chicago were brought to Geneseo by the Social Justice Committee.
They spent the day on the Russ Ward farm where they rode horses and tractors.
They, also, enjoyed a ride on the Mississippi River and later sang at Mass.
Prayer services here held in January for world peace as Operation Desert Storm
After the new church was built, a decision had to be made about what to do with
the church building on North Russell. Should it be sold? And to whom? Should it
be torn down and the land sold? It was decided to tear it down. Demolition
began in February. The bell came down first, then the tower and then the
building. The land was sold and now contains four condos. The stained glass
windows were incorporated into the new building on Ogden.
The Good Shepherd stained glass window was the first window to be restored from
the Russell Avenue church.
Plans were submitted in November for a new rectory that would be built by the
parishioners. Construction began on the rectory.
||Tom Wachtel was ordained as permanent deacon.
||Youth minister, students and parent chaperones attended the World Youth
Convention in Denver. They participated in Mass with Pope John Paul II.
Deacon Walter Verbeck began training the first group of girls to become altar
Fr. Mahoney saw to the completion of the church and school and continued as
pastor for another five years. He became ill during an evening Mass and was
hospitalized. He underwent a lengthy surgery during which there was an all day
prayer vigil. He retired and moved into a home across the street from the
church, but continued to be involved with the children of the parish.
Fr. Glenn Fontana was assigned assistant pastor.
First WATCH weekend, a three-day renewal program was held.
The “house payment” program, a plan for paying on the building debt began.
Christmas in April brought our community together with others to assist those in
need of home repairs and improvements.
Fr. Mahoney was appointed Pastor Emeritus.
On June 14, Fr. Michael Pakula was assigned as pastor of St. Malachy’s.
A new reconciliation room was built in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
The first Winter Festival held in February replaced the Fall Bazaar.
The Pony Express process was introduced to assist financial renewal.
Elizabeth Ministry which supports women during the childbearing years began.
||Larry Honzel was ordained a permanent deacon.
||Joyce Snyder became the first parish nurse.
||Mass was celebrated at 12:00 a.m. to celebrate the beginning of the Millenium
Final payment on the church debt was made. (Yeah!!!)
St. Malalchy’s congregation joined with fellow Americans in praying for the
victims of 9/11/2001.
||Fr. Mahoney died.
First Parish Life weekend held.
||New carpeting at a cost of $32,000 was laid in the nave of the church and in
the sanctuary and tile was laid around the baptismal fountain and near the
windows on both sides of the altar. New pews (with kneelers) were installed at
a cost of $71,000. Air conditioning was installed in the Daily Mass Chapel.
Glass doors that separated the daily chapel from the rest of the church were
installed. In the daily chapel, a new tabernacle area was constructed, new
carpet was installed, chairs were reupholstered and more closet space was added
behind tabernacle area.
In May, a new organ was installed at a cost of $74,090.
Mrs. Marsha Loucks retired after teaching thirty-two years at St. Malachy’s.
St. Malachy’s Church celebrated their 140th Anniversary with a host of events
during the week of July 9th -14th which included a float in the Music Festival
Parade, a potluck picnic with games, music and a car show, a nostalgic bingo,
and on Friday evening, Mass was celebrated by Bishop Daniel Jenky after which
there was a tour of the building and dinner. A time capsule was buried that
Task Force studies feasibility of Parish Activity Center.
First Steubenville Youth Conference attended by our Youth Group.
Fund Drive for Parish Activity Center begins Oct. 2007
Have $750,000 in building fund already. Need $3 million in cash or pledges before construction can begin.
First JUSTFAITH Group begins
Building & Renovation begins. 20,000 sq. ft. complex to include: new school & church offices, well-equipped kitchen, school cafeteria, indoor gym & recess area, art & music room, update on fire & health safety.
FALL 2009 – Parish supports Humility of Mary Shelter – over $40,000 donated so far.
Deacon Harley Harris dies March 31, 2011
Liz Fristensky retires from Director of Religious Education Program
Leigh Boorn hired as Faith Formation Leader – Summer 2011
Building finished in Summer of 2011
Sister Parish relationship established with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Mission in Maynardville, TN (Fr. Steve Pawelk is pastor) sponsored by Glenmary Missioners in Nov. 2011
Bishop Jenky established GIFT (Growing Together in Faith) process for our Diocese in early 2013. Parishes:
St. Anthony (Atkinson) and Sacred Heart (Annawan).
Pantry Patron ministry established at St. Malachy’s “We’ll Shop For You” for Geneseo Food Pantry – September 2013
January, 2014 – Addition paid off
40th Annual Parents Club Car Party, April 26, 2014
Parish Council re-established July 1, 2015
40th Annual Parents Club Lasagna Supper, September 25, 2015
Year Long Celebration for our 150th Anniversary begins.