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History St. Patrick Ransom


Welcome to St. Patrick, Ransom
Since 1883


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HISTORY OF ST. PATRICK’S CATHOLIC CHURCH IN RANSOM, IL

 

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church is located on a hill in the center of Ransom, Illinois, at 110 South Wallace Street. The first wooden church was built in 1883 and replaced with a brick church building in 1923.

The village of Ransom officially became a village on August 3, 1885. Ransom, the only village in Allen Township, was named after General Thomas Edward Greenfield Ransom, a Civil War soldier from LaSalle County. Allen Township was organized in either 1858 or 1859 and was named after then retired Ohio Senator William Allen.

Before the 1860’s, priests from Dwight and Ottawa would travel on horseback several times a year to homes and farms, say Mass, and perhaps stay overnight. Mass was celebrated in private homes and in Gus Richard’s home, above his carpenter shop in Ransom. This was at the corner of Campbell and Lane Street.

The first mention of the parish in Ransom, in the Streator newspaper, dated August 20, 1881, stated, There will be only one Mass in Streator, Sunday, August 21, 1881. Father Michael J. Byrnes will be in Ransom to establish a Mission there. He will say the second Mass there. Father Byrnes, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Streator, from 1883 – 1887, and his assistants, said Mass in Ransom while it was an out-mission of Streator.

By 1887, the group gathered enough strength to need regular ministration of a resident priest. Rev. James J. Grogan, Chicago, was appointed to the charge. There was no rectory and Rev. Grogan served the parish from Immaculate Conception Rectory in Streator.

Ransom became part of the Peoria Diocese in 1881 when the Chicago Diocese transferred the counties of Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, Putnam, and LaSalle to the Peoria Diocese, enlarging it considerable.

The first church building was a white wooden structure that had been moved from Kinsman, Illinois, and placed on the Wallace Street hill. It faced north, looking our over the prairie. In 1883, a frame church was built by Rev. Byrnes and cost $2,000. The first resident pastor was Rev. James J. Grogan, Chicago, who built the two-story frame parish house in 1888. He purchased the additional lots that comprise the church property. On January 20, 1888, Bishop Spalding approved the purchase of six lots [13, 16, 17, part of 20] in Block IV of the 3rd Addition to Ransom for $25 each. The big lot to the south was an apple orchard and children would cut through the lot on the way to and from public school. The school at that time was located where the village park is now. The north side had many shade trees and grass. This was leveled and made into a parking lot in the 1960’s.

Many of the early settlers were of Irish descent, hence, it was logical that the church was named after the Patron Saint of Ireland. Patrick was a missionary who lived from 387 – 463 A.D. He helped the people of Ireland, not only to keep their beautiful history and culture, but also, to add to their heritage the richness of Christianity. Saint Patrick’s feast day is celebrated throughout the world on March 17.

In February, 1887, St. Mary’s Church in Grand Rapids Township, was annexed to Ransom when it became independent under Fr. Grogan. At the time Marseilles became an independent parish in 1906, Grand Rapids became an out-mission of Marseilles, until 1938 when it was re-annexed to Ransom.

On July 18, 1903, a cyclone toppled the church steeple and blew down part of the fence in front of the church. The steeple was omitted when the church was repaired.

In 1921, the members decided to build a new structure. Patrick O’Donnell of Odell was asked to construct the church. He chose a brick structure with a tall steeple that could be seen for miles around. This church was finished in 1922 under the pastorship of Rev. John A. Kenrick. Besides a place of worship, the building provided a spacious parish hall in the basement for social affairs. The new church was dedicated by Bishop E. M. Dunne on June 26, 1923. Forty priests attended the solemn ceremony. Rev. William McIntyre, a native of Ransom, celebrated the Mass. Rev. Michael Gildea was Master of Ceremonies. The choir came from St. Stephen’s Parish, Streator. The pipe organ, installed in the new church, was formerly used in Immaculate Conception Parish, Streator.

Rev. Grogan, serving as the first priest, built a rectory in 1888. Although it has been remodeled inside and out by adding indoor plumbing, new siding and windows, and enclosing the front porch, it is still the same rectory today that was constructed in 1888.

For social activities and money-making projects during the Depression years, the church was in use constantly. For example, grade school graduation, piano recitals with Francis Gordon, teacher, child dance classes, taught by Maxine Williams [Mrs. Joe Fennessey], plays, minstrels, dinners, bazaars, and chicken dinners lasting two days.

Parish activities included Mother-Daughter dinners, sponsored by the Alter and Rosary Society, Argyle small dinners, and Jitney lunches. There was always a big outdoor ice cream social in the summer with bingo and prizes from area merchants. Everyone worked hard to pay off the church debt. The last chicken dinner was in August, 1952.

During the 1950’s, it is reported that the parish hall had been refinished and redecorated. There were 54 families in the parish. In the late 1960’s, the kitchen in the basement was completely remodeled. Another remodeling was done in 1989.

As written in the 1983 – 100-year anniversary celebration booklet, There are about 95 families in the Congregation and it is primarily a rural parish in the prosperous agricultural area. Approximately 60 children are enrolled in the CCD classes at the present time, kindergarten through eighth grade. A combined church service with the Ransom United Methodist Church, also observing their Centennial, was held at 8:00 a. m. on July 31 at the village park in Ransom. Histories were read, special music played, and congregational singing and sermons by Rev. James Thompson of the Methodist Church and Rev. Francis Cahill of St. Patrick’s. A Centennial Mass was celebrated on Sunday, September 18, at 3:30 p.m., presided over by Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke assisted by Rev. Anthony Divan and Rev. Francis Cahill and visiting priests with singing by St. Patrick’s Choir. The occasion of 100 years of worship was celebrated with commemorative mugs, printed booklet and a reception, hosted by Altar and Rosary Society. Also, written in that booklet is the statement, At the present time the Altar and Rosary Society are restoring the stained-glass windows of the church.

Before the salad luncheon of October, 1989, the Altar and Rosary Society ladies discussed the necessity for making improvements to the hall in the basement of the church. Marilyn Kennedy offered to provide funds for this purpose, in memory of John and Helen Kennedy. Their donation provided paneling for the lower portion of the walls, new lights, and ceiling fans for the basement. Parishioners combined their efforts to provide paint for the upper portion of the walls and energy to do it.

Other improvements were a new roof, wiring, kitchen and bathrooms in 1992. In 1994, the house received new siding and windows. A two-car garage was built in 1995 by Talty Construction of Streator. In 2004, the men’s bathroom was completely gutted and redecorated.

In December, 2006, a public auction was held to sell three vacant lots of land to the south of the rectory. Other items for sale were household furnishings, appliances, trees and furniture. The trustees, Mary Ross and Don Ahearn, brainstormed this idea to use the funding for the redecoration of the church, costing $40,000. By selling the lots, $18,000 was raised. Invenergy, the company planning to build a wind farm near the Exelon nuclear plant, donated $7,000. Members of the church also made donations.

In June, 2007, the headlines in The Paper, Dwight, read, St. Patrick’s in Ransom Going ‘Green’. St. Patrick, who converted Ireland to Christianity, would most certainly approve of his namesake church in Ransom erecting a windmill to produce electric power. Some 60 wind turbines will rise from the prairie this fall. One of those turbines will be on 80 acres of land owned by St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. It will be the first wind turbine erected on church property in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. The parish had to seek permission from Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, of the Peoria Diocese, before giving permission to Invenergy, a Chicago company that will be developing the wind turbine project. This permission was granted on December 19, 2006. The turbine will generate the parish almost $10,000 annually in rental fees. It is located in Section 31 of Brookfield Township, LaSalle County. This 80-acre parcel was donated to St. Patrick’s Church in 1976 by Ada Dooley.

In 2007, the church interior was painted and carpeted. All of the pews were removed to a trailer and stored for the six weeks of redecorating. The interior had been painted in the 1950’s trend of gold and browns. The walls are now cream, with green bordering the stained-glass windows. Ceiling beams were faux painted wood. Pillars and the bases of the beams were faux painted marble. The painting was contracted to Shaleen Glad of Seneca.

The focal point on the west wall is a mural of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. It had been painted on canvas, and then nailed to the wall. This was preserved and freshened. The Bible reference of John 10:11 states, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He wants us to follow his example.

Included in this large project was the repainting of the sacristy and the wooden [maple] floor in the choir loft. It was sanded and sealed, as it had never been finished. The work was done by Hollywood Floors, Marseilles, and Joe Yaris, Marseilles, laid the carpet. During the six weeks in April and May that the church was repainted, Mass was celebrated on a small stage in the church basement, with folding chairs instead of pews.

Unseen, but hanging majestically in the bell tower is the large bronze church bell that was purchased by the entire Ransom community. It is a treasured keepsake of the church. The bell is from the Columbian Exposition [Chicago World’s Fair] of 1893, a reminder of the heritage of both the community and state. Folklore has said that the bell won an award for its eloquent sound at the exposition. It may have been part of a collection of twelve bells/chimes in a carillon competition from the Buckeye Bell Foundry. The inscription on the side notes the bell was donated by the people of Ransom, Catholics and non-Catholics, to St. Patrick’s Church. It was made by the Buckeye Bell Foundry in Ohio in 1893. Its award-winning bell tone is heard each Sunday morning by the parishioners and the community. It is run by electricity just prior to the service.

In 2008, a total of 82 families belong to the church. There are 17 students in CCD in grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8. The pastor is Monsignor John Prendergast. The priest saying Sunday and weekday Mass is Monsignor Thomas Badovsky, who lives in Streator. The trustees are Mary Ross and Don Ahearn. Altar and Rosary Society president is Peggy Francisco, treasurer and CCD coordinator is Mary Ross, farm manager is Kenny McComb, farmer if Frank Corrigan and organist is Joy Ahearn. The cemetery trustees are Paul Phelan and Ray Mullen. Lucy Weber is sacristan.

CELEBRATION OF 125 YEARS

On March 16, 2008, St. Patrick’s members celebrated their 125-year anniversary with a program entitled, Faith Makes Us Family. The celebration began with the group singing, Amazing Grace. The highlights of the day included a flute concert, potluck, history quiz, and favors to remember the celebration, including hats embroidered with Ransom St. Patrick’s 125th Anniversary. Flutopia consists of 17 flutists from around Illinois. They perform using a variety of flute instruments.

As was written in the Sunday bulletin following that day, The Parishioners of St. Patrick’s Church, Ransom thank everyone who attended our 125th celebration. Your presence and kind remarks were much appreciated. Our full house count was 140 people attending the Flutopia concert and potluck, including two former priests Msgr. Thomas Mack, St. Mary’s Church, Pontiac and Fr. Art Ryan, Spring Valley, and current resident priest Msgr. Thomas Badovsky. Messages were received from former priests and read at our event. Those messages were from Fr. Bowan Schmitt and Fr. Eugene Radosevich.

Father Bo wrote:

I wanted to share some funny and precious memories with everyone.

Hi everyone, I’m sorry that I could not be with you today. I’m happy to know that you are celebrating 125-years as a parish community. I hope you all have a wonderful day with each other! Don asked that I share a few of my favorite Parish memories with you. My first memory is easy to recall because it has to do with the very first timeI came to Ransom. I remember this event very well. I had just arrived at Marseilles and wanted to go see St. Pat’s. As I was leaving Marseilles [preparing to drive to Ransom] I thought to myself, …Gosh, I should probably get some gas… You see, my low gas light was on. But since I was so excited to come see your community and church, I decided that I would just stop at your local Casey’s or local gas station when I arrived at Ransom and fill up my tank. [Oops! Bad decision!]

Upon arriving to Ransom, I quickly found out that there was not a gas station or Casey’s in town. Folks, my gas gauge was now on empty and I knew I would not make it back to Marseilles [and I had no clue how to get to Streator.] I frantically drove all through town, and was able to find a storeowner who had a lawnmower gas can filled with gas in his back storeroom. Thankfully, I was able to get back to Marseilles without running out of gas. I learned an important lesson: To never come to Ransom without having gas in my tank!

I guess driving is a theme for me when I think of Ransom. During my time at Ransom, I skidded off the road 3 times [as I was going to and from St. Pat’s] during the winter months. Getting out to Ransom is no easy feat when it’s snowy, that’s for sure. I forget now who it was, but someone from the parish who was coming over for the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Joseph’s saw me stranded in the ditch. We had just concluded Christmas Eve Mass at St. Pat’s and I was on my way back to Marseilles when I slid off the icy road. This family was driving to Marseilles to attend the Mass that was to be held at St. Joe’s. Thankfully, they offered me a ride, and got me to Marseilles just in time for Christmas Eve Mass. Then after Mass, they were kind enough to help pull my car out of the ditch. Let me tell you that’s a Christmas I will never forget!

Father Radosevich sent the following Irish blessing:

My wish for you
I wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses,
Not that you might never need regret,
Nor that you should never feel pain.
No, that is not my wish for you.
My wish for you is:
That you might be brave in times of trial,
When others lay crosses upon your shoulders.
When mountains must be climbed and chasms are to be crossed,
When hope can scarce shine through.
That every gift God gave you might grow with you
And let you give your gift of joy to all who care for you.
That you may always have a friend who is worth that name,
Whom you can trust and who helps you in times of sadness,
Who will defy the storms of daily life at your side?
One more wish I have for you:
That in every hour of joy and pain you may feel God close to you.
This is my wish for you and for all who care for you.
This is my hope for you now and forever.

                                                            ~ anonymous Irish blessing

Parishioners were challenged with a history ‘quiz. And each member received a green pen. During the program everyone sang, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. In the church hall was a display of photographs and memorabilia, which was decorated with a theme of shamrocks and green St. Patrick’s symbol.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS OF ST. PATRICK’S CATHOLIC CHURCH

1883 – 2008

1883 – Built first [wood] church, Pastor – Fr. James Grogan
1888 – Purchased six lots and built two story frame Rectory
1891 – Purchased two acres for cemetery
1903 – Cyclone destroyed church steeple
1922 – Built brick church – Pastor – Rev. John Kenrick – Date on the Cornerstone at
Northeast corner of church building. Looking forward to celebrating 100 year old building.
1923 – Purchased pipe organ from Immaculate Conception, Streator
1950 – Remodeled interior
1970 – Remodeled interior
1976 – Ada Dooley donated 80 acres of farm land
1983 – Restored stained-glass windows
1989 – Remodeled basement/hall
1994 – Replaced siding and windows in Rectory
1995 – Replaced old garage with two-car garage
1996 – Published cookbook
1998 – Tuck pointed brick church
2002 – Replaced concrete steps and landing for front entrance
2003 – Replaced roof and completed handicapped ramp and sidewalk
2004 – Remodeled men’s bathroom – Jim and Mary Ross
2005 – Remodeled women’s bathroom – Fr. Bo, Don Ahearn, Ray Eich
2006 – Auctioned three city lots, south of rectory
2006 - Last Salad Luncheon
2007 – Remodeled interior with new paint scheme and carpeting; choir loft floor finished
2007 – 2008 Msgr. Prendergast
2008 – March 16 - Celebrated 125-years of service to God and our parish family
June 14 – Bishop Jenky suspended Masses and closed St. Patrick’s Church in Ransom, IL
2008 – Msgr. Tom Badovsky
2012 – May 29 – Kids desecrated the church with a fire; no charges filed per Msgr. Rejsek
2012 – July 14 -- Reopen with Msgr. Rejsek Combined with St. Joseph’s Marseilles. Members celebrated with a dinner after Mass.
2013 – 2014 Fr. Gabriel Msoka, AJ– Arrived here on Pentecost Sunday.
2014 – 2018 – Fr. Anthony {Tony} Ego – Pastor for both parishes welcomed everyone to the meal go round after the 5:00 PM Mass. On the first Saturday of the month, a restaurant was chosen and those who wished to attend would meet at that restaurant. Some of the restaurants we attended were Sunfield in Ottawa, Gerry’s Tap in Ransom, The Streator Knights of Columbus. The secretaries at that time were Mrs. Rogalla for a short time and Mrs. Janice Ruger took over as secretary and bookkeeper.

2016 – 2019 JUNIOR CHOIR

Practiced – on Wednesday at church or Ransom Grade School Brad Coughlin was CCD teacher and coordinator Jerry Yedinak donated snacks each week
Members: Katelyn Talty, Nolan Coughlin, Denver Trainor Brandon Talty, Trevor Talty, Madyson Trainer, Riley Stevens, Cade Stevens

ALTAR SERVERS

Riley Stevens, Cade Stevens, Katelyn Talty

READERS

Brad Coughlin, Ed Condon, Patrice Simons, Marita Stevens

GROUNDS KEEPER

Tom Emm [lawn mowing]

CLEANING CREW

Joy Ahearn                                 Charlotte Blair
Jean and Ed Condon                 Judy and Tom Coughlin
Janice and Anna Emm               Peggy and Frank Francisco
Mindy Hepner                           Marcy Kohrt
Irene Mertes                              Barb Mikolajczyk
Joan Miller                                Jeanie Muntz
Mary Ross                                 Joyce Talty
Cleone Wright

FARM COMMITTEE

Jayne Corsini                             Tom Emm

CEMETERY TRUSTEES

Ray Mullen                               Tom Emm

2018-2019 - Fr. Ghislain Inai, SMA was Parochial Vicar and Pastor for St. Patrick’s in Seneca. St. Joseph’s in Marseilles.

2018 -- NEW ALTAR: EASTER
Dave Slusarski: woodworker built and donated to Ransom:
1] New Base for altar; with cross motif
2] New side altar
3] New pulpit – ambo
4] Small side rail The new furnishings are made of oak, stained and varnished.

2019 -- Fr. G. returned to Africa. 2020 Pastor St. Joseph, Marseilles; St. Patrick, Seneca; St. Patrick, Ransom; St. Theresa, Earlville; St. Mary, Grand Ridge, in August of 2020 Pastor of St. Joseph, Marseilles, St. Patrick, Ransom, St. Mary’s in Grand Ridge and St. Patrick in Seneca.

2019 - Fr. Augustine Kassa SMA was Parochial Vicar for St. Theresa in Earlville., St. Joseph, Marseilles, St. Patrick, Seneca, St. Patrick, Ransom and St. Mary, Grand Ridge

2019 - Fr. Odilin SMA spend six months here at which time he saw his first snowfall.

2020 – June - Fr. Alexander Millar – Parochial Vicar of St. Joseph. Marseilles, St. Patrick, Ransom, St. Patrick, Seneca, St. Theresa, Earlville and St. Mary, Grand Ridge. Our parishes were joined together and became known as the Ribourde Catholic Community after a saint who was killed by Indians in Seneca.

2020 – March -- There was a pandemic caused by COVID 19, when Masses were suspended. Fr. Kassa was acting pastor. We celebrated Mass outside on the lawn. In July restrictions were lifted and we were able to celebrate Mass without face masks and without social distancing. The secretary is now Mrs. Andrea Hogan and the bookkeeper is Mrs. June Steder. In August St. Theresa of Earlville was transferred to the community of Mendota.

2020 – November – Fr. Jean SMA assisted Fr. G. 2020 –

2021 – Fr. G. returned from Africa

2020 – TRUSTEES – Peggy and Frank Francisco
SACRISTAN – Charlotte Blair and Anne Hrasko
ORGANISTS – Joy Ahearn and Mary Ross

2021 –TRUSTEES – Peggy Francisco and Cleonne Wright
SACRISTAN – Charllotte Blair and Anne Hrasko
FARM COMMITTEE – Jayme Corsini and Tom Emm
FARMER—Frank Corrigan [25 years]
CEMETERY TRUSTEES – Ray Mullen and Tom Emm

2021--ALTAR AND ROSARY OFFICERS;
Co-Presidents: Jayne Corsini and Peggy Francisco
      Assistant – Irene Mertes PRAYER
CHAIN CAPTAINS:
    Joyce Talty,
    Jeanie Muntz,
    Irene Mertes
ORGANIST – Joy Ahearn and Mary Ross
ALTAR SERVERS -- Cade Stevens, Caitlin Talty, Nolan Coughlin
READERS—Ed Condon, Brad Coughlin, Patrice Simons, Marita Stevens, Denver Trainor
GROUNDS KEEPER - Tom Emm
CLEANING CREW – Joy Ahearn, Charlotte Blair, Jean and Ed Condon, Judy Coughlin, Janice and Anna Emm, Peggy and Frank Francisco, Mindy Hepner, Marcy Kohrt, Irene Mertes, Barb Mikolajczyk, Joan Miller, Jeanin Muntz Mary Ross, Joyce Talty, Cleonne Wright