The civic community of Huntley, Illinois dates from 1851 when the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad extended service to the area. With broad-minded foresight, Thomas S. Huntley donated land for the village, platted the area and set aside acreage for three churches – Lutheran, Congregational, and Catholic. At the time, there were not enough Catholics in the area to build a Catholic church, so the faithful worshipped at the Little Church of the Woods, North Barrens, located four miles northeast of the village, or at South Barrens which was located near Gilberts.
By November 1870, the possibility of a local Catholic parish was becoming a reality. A group of the faithful held a meeting in the John Kelley blacksmith shop to discuss organization of a new church in what was then called Huntley Grove. Present at this first meeting were John Kreutzer, Paul Kreutzer, John Coyle, John G. Kelley, Philip Sheehan, Daniel Donahue, Michael Fitzgerald, John Zenk, George Hemmer, John Clinnin and Henry Mountain. A number of their descendants remain in our parish family.
In April 1871, a second meeting held at the Congregational Church resulted in a fund raising committee being formed. Work began on the church building which was located beside the church cemetery. In July 1873, Father Clement Duerr was appointed Pastor of the new church. His pastorate also included St. Mary Parish in Gilberts. In 1874, a rectory was built next to the church. Later, a second rectory was built to replace the original structure during the tenure of Fr. Desire Miller (1909-1917). Both of those rectory structures are still standing and are occupied by subsequent owners.
By the late 1920’s, there was a need for a larger church building. The site on Woodstock St. was chosen and construction began in 1930 with the dedication taking place in 1931.
Two women from the parish became religious sisters. Regina Martin became Mother Mary of the poor Clares. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Martin. Mary Farley became Sister Mary Helen of the Ursulines. She is the daughter of Thomas and Mary Farley.
St. Mary Parish consisted of some 56 families in 1870; grew to 98 families in the 1920’s, and approximately 400 families in 1995. Currently, registered parish families number about 5,419. Anticipating the need for a larger church, 30 acres of land were purchased east of town from the Kreutzer family. Building and Fund Raising Committees were appointed, and aided by numerous hard-working parishioners, began the planning process for a new church.
Groundbreaking for the new church took place on a rainy Sunday, December 5, 1999, with Bishop Doran officiating. Work on the new church progressed steadily, with the first Mass celebrated on Saturday, November 10, 2001. The dedication was held the following week on Sunday, November 18, 2001,
again with Bishop Doran officiating as celebrant.
The parish continues to welcome new members and will continue to grow. Msgr. Steve Knox became pastor in July 2004, replacing Fr. Robert Garrity. In addition, several Associate Pastors have been appointed to St. Mary’s including Fr. Jonathan Bakkelund who is currently serving in the parish.
In 2010, it was discerned that the parish would benefit greatly by having a Parish Ministry Center. In 2011, a Capital Campaign entitled Building Community Together was undertaken and the generous parishioners of St. Mary’s pledged funds to make the Parish Ministry Center a reality. On April 16, 2012, a cold, windy day, groundbreaking for the new Parish Ministry Center took place. The 33,000 square foot building which includes a parish hall, large kitchen, youth ministry space, religious education classrooms/meeting rooms, a Eucharistic Adoration Chapel, staff offices, bride’s room and storage is complete and was dedicated by Bishop David Malloy on April 20, 2013.
We are proud of our heritage and grateful to the Lord for many, many blessings bestowed in the past. We implore the Lord’s blessings upon the future.
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