About Our Parish

          The first recorded effort to take care of the spiritual needs of Catholics in Peotone was made by Father Joseph McNamee, the Pastor of St. Patrick (Wilton Center).  A Paulist Priest, Father Welsh was engaged by Father McNamee to give a series of lectures on religion in the Peotone Opera House.  That was in 1906.  In the following months, Father McNamee celebrated Mass a few times in the very same hall, for the next 2 years, i.e., Elmer P. Meyer's Hall.  At that time there were less than a dozen families in Peotone, not enough for a regular mission.
          Within 30 years, the number of Catholic families in Peotone more than tripled.  Thus, the need for Catholic services grew, and in 1949, Father Michael Ducey, O.S.B., then a Pastor of St. Patrick (Wilton Center), laid a foundation for a Catholic Mission in Peotone.  He canvassed the territory, organizing the Catholic population and began celebrating Mass in the Village Hall.  He celebrated Mass there on the following Sundays:  April 12, 19 and 26, 1949.  When the Village Hall was no longer available, he was forced to discontinue.  By fall, a new location was arranged for the Mission, Elmer P. Meyer Hall. aka Peotone Opera House, was founded officially on October 2, 1949 by the Most Reverend Martin D. McNamara, D.D., Bishop of Joliet, with Rev. George Kuzma as its Pastor.  40 families made up the first Parish list.
          Within 3 weeks, CCD classes began in October 1949; the children met at the Post Office on Saturday afternoon and were taken to St. Patrick (Wilton Center).  There, 2 nuns gave them religious instruction.
The Holy Name Society for men was organized:
William Wall, Sr.  -- President
Warren Baker      -- Vice President
James Darby       -- Secretary
George Goergen   --Treasurer
The Altar & Rosary Society had 28 members:
Rose Schroeder    --President
Florence Strassen -- Vice President
Catherine Noonan -- Secretary
Clara Nickel          --Treasurer
          In 1950 St. Paul's Mission purchased over 6 acres of land on the northwest side of Peotone as a site for a future church and pother parish buildings (currently in use).
          By 1951 Meyer's Hall was provong too small to hold the growing congregation and serious thought was being given to building a basement church on the parish property.  Government regulations killed that prospect.  Then in October 1951 the local theater was offered for sale and after a few weeks, was purchased by the congregation for $25,000 to serve as a temporary church.  St. Paul's Mission took possession of the theater on December 3, 1951.  Services began in the new location with midnight Mass on Christmas of 1951.  Under the direction of Father Kuzma, over the next 6 months the  parishioners would remodel the parish.  The former theater was  transformed in a "lovely little church".  It was the only air-conditioned church in the entire Joliet Diocese.  The residence for our priest was an apartment above the lobby of the church.
          On Sunday, July 13, 1952, His Excellency Most Rev. Bishop Martin D. McNamara blessed the newly remodeled church and opened it officially to Catholic worship.  St. Paul Catholic Mission would now provide worship for 65 families for the next 20 years.
          Knowing that the Peotone Theater was a temporary location, the fundraisers for the new church continued.  On May 29, 1961, The St. Paul Mission was canonically erected as a parish.
         The parishioners knowing we would need more space and a permanent place for the religious instruction of our children and extra space for all the church functions, fundraisers and meetings that took place, with only 100 parishioners, in 1962 were able to raise $80,000 on one Sunday afternoon.
          In March 1965 during Father William Cullen's pastorate, the groundbreaking ceremony took place for St. Paul's Parish Center.  The Parish Center was to have a gym, 4 classrooms, and an office--an all-purpose center.  The Church and the priest's apartment remained in the Theater on 2nd Street.
          In June 1969, Father Michael O'Keefe became pastor of St. Paul.  In 1970 the parish approached the Diocesean Council requesting approval to sell the Theater church and move all parish activities to the parish center.  Approval was given and Father O'Keefe rented the home at 320 W. Crawford for his residence and office.
          On July 2, 1971 Father James Murray became pastor of St. Paul.  The parish purchased the residence at 320 W. Crawford for a rectory.
          In June 1979 ground was broken to renovate the parish center.  A Blessed Sacrament Chapel in one of the classrooms, removed the basketball hoops and started construction on the new St. Paul the Apostle Church.  Real pews, a Tabernacle, Altar of Repose, Stations of the Cross, Confessional, and stained glass windows were added.
          On June 17, 1980 Father James Kempfer was named pastor of St. Paul.  In November 1982 the house adjoining the church was purchased and raised 16" to make use of the basement.  The old rectory on Crawford Street was sold on November 9, 1984.