Catholic Community

History St. Joseph

Welcome to St. Joseph, Marseilles

Since 1848

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THE early records show that Catholic families first settled in Marseilles, Illinois, in 1848. For many years Masses were said in private homes by Father Thomas O’Donnell, who was then pastor of St. Columba’s parish in Ottawa.

Marseilles remained an out-mission of Ottawa until the late sixties. Then it was attached in turn to Morris and Seneca. Rev. Thomas Major, pastor of Seneca and the priests preceding him said Mass at Marseilles in private homes until 1882. Father Chas. Hausser, pastor of Seneca attended Marseilles until 1906 when Bishop J. L. Spalding appointed Rev. Lawrence E. Hackett as the first resident pastor of St. Joseph’s, Marseilles, which Father Hausser had built in 1902. An item, taken from on Ottawa newspaper in October, 1901, states: The Catholics of Marseilles are considering the advisability of erecting a new church instead of building an addition to the old one.

Father Hackett purchased a house and completely remodeled it for a parish house in 1906. Later another notice appeared in the news

paper. Within a few weeks St. Joseph’s Church and Parish house will adjoin each other. Preparations are now underway to move the church from its present location on Pine Street to the Lot north of the parish house on Bluff Street.

In 1925 the church was remodeled and a new section was built in the middle. The exterior was stuccoes. Father Richard O’Loughlin was the pastor at that time. He served from December 1917 until June 1943. In 1925-26 Father O’Loughlin spent about eleven thousand dollars on the church, enlarging it about one third again of its former size and increasing its seating capacity to three hundred and twenty-five. A sacristy also was added to the church. In 1932 the church was raised, the ground underneath was excavated and carried off in conveyors. The National Biscuit Company furnished, free of charge, the steel required in the construction of the Assembly Hall and dining room under the church. The Certain-Teed Company donated the beaverboard. Men of the parish donated labor estimated at a thousand dollars. In 1937 Father O’Loughlin had the church redecorated.

During the pastorate of Father O’Loughlin, on February 13, 1943, the church office on which he had bestowed so much labor and money was entirely destroyed by fire caused by an over-heated furnace. Father O’Loughlin had just completed a Requiem Mass when smoke began pouring through the registers. The flames spread rapidly and in spite of the combined efforts of the city and the National Biscuit firemen, it was impossible to save the church. For a short time, Masses were said at the National Biscuit Clubrooms on Sunday, and in the parish house during the week. The basement, what was left of it, was remodeled and a roof put on and used for a church.

In June 1943, Father John T. Loughlin was appointed as pastor, and directed by Bishop Schlarman to begin planning on a new church. With the curtailment of materials during the war it was impossible to even think of building, so the good people of St. Joseph’s settled down to the honoring of God in the dank Basement Cathedral for however long a time it might take to rebuild. Then, in 1945, another tragedy struck when again fire broke out in the basemen, destroying much of the church and practically all of its furnishings. The comment of Bishop Schlarman upon hearing of the second fire was, Well, this time, it couldn’t have burned down, it must have burned up. Once again, temporary repairs were made, and again the good men of the parish gave up their time and genius to put the basement in shape so that Holy Mass might be celebrated.

During the long eight years from 1943 until 1951, the loyal people of St. Joseph’s –without too many complaints – put up with the multitudinous difficulties, their eyes always fixed on the new church which one day would be theirs.

The realization of their visions started when, on August 14, 1950, ground was broken for the new church. A further promise of fulfillment came, when on March 11, 1951, the cornerstone was blessed and erected by Bishop Schlarman. The fruition of all dreams came when, on Thanksgiving Day 1951, the First Mass was offered in the new edifice.

As of this moment, the people of St. Joseph’s parish have a beautiful new church and hall. A rectory is yet to be built. With the unswerving loyalty that the parishioners have given and are giving there is no doubt that the new rectory will soon become as familiar a part of the landscape as the church and hall.


  • Altar –In memory of Umberto Silvestrini
  • Reredos –In memory of Peter Grieses
  • Crucifix—Gift of Helping Sisters Lucille
  • St. Joseph Statue—In memory of John Halligan
  • Blessed Virgin Statue—In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Gerbert
  • Stations of Cross—Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Costello
  • Organ—Gift of Altar and Rosary Society
  • Tabernacle—Gift of Acolyte Mother’s Club


In memory of:

  • Frank Lofky
  • Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Gonia
  • David Belletine
  • Mr. and Mrs. James Hollahan
  • Felice and Angela Garda
  • Deceased members of Verona Family
  • Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Mattioda
  • Lawrence Vallero
  • Eugene Malosti
  • Bernard J. Lockwood
  • Clarence Cobler
  • James and Arthur Graham
  • The Jachimowitz Family
  • Mrs. John Pellino
  • Mr. and Mrs. Joseph
  • Mr. and Mrs. Louis Naretty
  • Umberto Marcacci
  • Augustino Munari


Gift of:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Julius Guerrini
  • The Veronda Family
  • The Lavery Family
  • The Gualandri Family
  • The Donna Family
  • The Arthur McNamara Family
  • The Loughlin Family
  • Mrs. Umberto Marcacci
  • The Gondolfi Family
  • The Oberto Family
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jack Ganz


In memory of Joe Mareta

Work was begun on our new rectory and C.C.D. Center in 1970 was completed in 1971-72 then the sanctuary was remodeled in the mid-seventies.

At a meeting of St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish, it was revealed that work will begin in the near future on the proposed rectory and Confraternity of Christion Doctrine {C.C.D.} religious instruction facility.

Bids were let on the contracts as soon as each portion of the work neared readiness.

A one-story C.C.D. building is planned for the west side of the church adjacent to the mother’s chapel.

There will also be a connecting passageway from the chapel to the rectory which will permit the pastor to enter the church without going out doors. A parking lot will be made on the present C.C.D. site at the corner of Broadway and Minden Streets.

Effective September 1, 1971 St. Joseph’s Parish got its first associate pastor, the Rev. Raymond Jacobowski; Father Ray celebrated his official parish Mass at St. Joseph’s church Sunday morning. He was appointed to the 550-family parish in Marseilles by the new Bishop Edward O’Rourke of the Peoria Catholic Diocese. He came here from St. Mary’s parish in Moline. From October of 1971 to April of 1972, Father Ray served as assistant pastor to Father Loughlin. Father Richard Kolczaski joined Father Loughlin as co-pastor from 1973-75 and Father John Deane was co- pastor from 1977-79. In the time frame from 1975-1983, Father Anthony Divan was vicar adjutor until Father Loughlin retired in 1977 and Father Divan became pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Marseilles, St. Patrick’s in Ransom, and St. Mary’s Mission in Grand Ridge. Assisting Father Divan from August of 1979 – April of 1982 was Father Jerome Ham. The new associate pastor will occupy one of the three suites in the new rectory. Rose Seahorn was secretary until 1977 when Mrs. Becky Tabor took over.

On October 3, 1971 an Open House was held to permit inspection on our new Confraternity of Christian Doctrine {C.C.D.} classrooms. The event was sponsored by the 550 families and the open house included the rectory and was open to the Marseilles community. On Wednesday, October 6, 1971, the students enrolled in our parish religious classes reported to the new C.C.D. Center. Classes were held from 4:00 to 5:30 P.M. This included all pupils from grades through 8. Each student was instructed to report directly to their assigned classroom at the C.C.D. Center. What a proud day for St. Joseph’s.

Our St. Joseph’s Parish C.C.D. Program started in 1961-62 school year. In 1960-61, religious instructions were being taught in the sacristy, mother’s chapel, VFW basement, and multiple classes in St. Joseph’s Hall by two Sisters of Mercy and few lay-helpers. In 1961-62 Lay teachers began to assist with the classes. Fifth through eighth grades were divided into two classes – with men teachers for the boys and women for the girls – 5th and 6th at 9:30 A.M. and 7th and 8th at 10:30 A.M.

In 1962-63 the Catholic Education Program was organized and established. McKinley Annex was rented and grades 5th through 8th moved to classrooms where an effective teaching situation was established. The Messenger Program was discarded and standard Catholic grade school texts were used. Grades 1-4 remained co-educational with the Sisters of Mercy as instructors. Class time was increased to one hour and thirty minutes. Grades five through eighth were separated into classes of boys and girls with teachers for each class. Courses consisted of religion and mental prayer. Report cards were given each nine weeks.

In 1963-64 all grades moved to the Annex and a 9th grade was added. A Wednesday night program was also begun for grades 10-12. The high school program was not successful because materials were so advanced for student backgrounds, general apathy on the part of parents and students, and the fact that a once-a-week high school program cannot effectively provide a good Catholic education. The program was discarded when Marquette was opened to St. Joseph’s students as the Parish High School.

In 1964-65 the program was basically established with the second phase of improvements added. Fifty-six filmstrips were purchased at a cost of $500.00.

In 1965-66 the basic 1962 program was changed to include one hour and forty minutes classes for grade 1-4 with lay teachers teaching on-half hour of prayer, using audiovisual aids., coloring books, reading Bible stories and other enrichment materials. Grades 5-8 had one hour and fifteen minutes of religion, twenty minutes of philosophy, and twenty minutes of a special class using films and other enrichment materials. Classes were two hours in length. An additional 64 films were purchased at a cost of $580.00. Two additional projectors, movie screens, and record player were purchased. The parish library was established with more than $300.00 worth of books and pamphlets purchased to add to 1,000 donated books. A Kindergarten class was started by a Sister of Mercy as an experiment using the Little People’s Paperback as Material.

At present, the CCD Co-Directors are Father Raymond Jacobowski and Mrs. Charles Barmer. We have 15 lay teachers.

In 1966-67 Claretian Seminarians were added to the teaching staff to instruct grades five through eight. Vatican materials and changes were implemented with regular materials. All 5th and 6th grade boys were trained as acolytes with twenty-five joining the Altar Boy Association. General work was also accomplished on appreciating new church music. Additional library reference and general books were purchased.

In 1967-68 McKinley Annex became inadequate and grades one and two were moved reluctantly to St. Joseph Hall. The study of Vatican11 documents were implemented. Parents were asked to serve as room parents, assist with grading papers, etc. Two homes next to St. Joseph Church were purchased for future use as CCD classrooms.

In 1968-69 all CCD classes moved to the CCD Center house and Annex, with grades 1-6 at 4:00 to 5:30 P.M., and grades 7 and 8 AT 7:00 TO 8:30 P.M. Anticipating future construction of a CCD Center, student desks, blackboards, tables, and chairs were purchased at a cost of $2,450.00. Teachers met during the summer again for preparation in doctrine and method.

In 1969-1970 all grades met from 4:00 to 5:30 P.M. in the CCD Center and Annex. The Catholic Post filmstrips were used in the upper grades. Confirmation was held on May 31st.

HONORS DAY was added for giving awards and CCD certificates. Open house was held.

In 1970-71 the Benziger Series Texts were phased out with the addition of The Daughter of St. Paul Textbooks. Teachers met during the summer for additional preparation in doctrine and method. A traveling banner was added for the best class each week. Honors Day and Parent’s Night for visitation were held in addition to the Open House. High School Youth Group, People to People began.

Effective June 20, 1973, The Reverend Raymond Jacobowski, associate pastor was appointed co-pastor of St. Mary’s Church, East Moline, by the bishop of the Diocese of Peoria, the most Reverend Edward W. O’Rourke. Father Ray is a native of Peru, IL.

Father Richard Kolczaski has been appointed Co-pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, Marseilles, to serve with Father John T. Loughlin. Marseilles is one of four parishes in the diocese to have CO-PASTORS.

Father Kolczaski is being assigned here from St. John the Baptist Church in Fairbury and St. James’s Mission in Forrest. He is also a native of Peru, IL. He will occupy one of the three suites in the new rectory. Father Kolczaski was born August 16, 1929, in Peru, Illinois and was ordained May 29, 1955, He has been assigned to Sacred Heart, Moline, 1955-56 St. Catherines Aledo, 1956-1959, Immaculate Conception, Streator, 1959-1964 and St. Mary’s, East Moline 1964 to 1967. His first Pastoral assignment was to St. Mary’s, Loretto, where he spent three years, and he has been pastor at St. John’s Fairbury and St. James, Forrest since 1970.


ST. JOSEPH’S HOLY NAME SOCIETY was organized by the men of the parish in 1954. The first president was Mr. Clarence Scanland. They usually have at least two projects a year, a corned beef and cabbage dinner for fund raising and Men’s Night as a social affair. They also sponson Boy Scout troop No. 95. They work well with all the organizations of the parish. When the new rectory was finished the men purchased a new washer and dryer and a refrigerator. Last year they donated $500.00 to the parish fund and this year $500.00 to the new organ fund.

For many years the men of the parish would serve breakfast to the mother and daughters who would come for a breakfast. The men continue to help support our parish by selling adds for the bulletin, the money is used to do many projects which need to be taken care of.


The first lady’s society in St. Joseph’s Parish was the Sacred Heart League. Later the Helping Sisters of Lucille was organized and also did church work. In 1916 the Sacred Heart League was merged into the Altar and Rosary Society and the women started taking care of the Sanctuary and Sacristy, Mass Vestments, Altar Linens, etc. The Helping Sisters of Lucille disbanded several years ago.

The Altar and Rosary fund raising projects are a salad bar in the spring and a chicken dinner in the fall. Their money is used for the expenses of taking care of the Sanctuary etc. The society at present has 275 members. They meet the third Tuesday of each month. The Altar and Rosary Society is the oldest lay organization in St. Joseph’s Parish. They also work on other parish projects. They work together with the men on the parish picnic in the summer. On Mother’s Day they have a mother and daughter breakfast prepared and served by the men of the Hoy Name Society and on Father’s Day they prepare and serve a father and son breakfast for the men of the Parish. When the new rectory was built the Society paid for the new kitchen cabinets in the amount of $947.00.


In 1965 the Parish Library was begun with books and magazines donated by parishioners and some from St. Bede’s Abbey in Peru. A committee was formed to catalogue the books. During Catholic Book Month in 1967, 47 new books were donated by members of the parish, bringing the inventory to more than 1400 books. Books have been added through the years. Many books were donated in memory of a loved one; both children and adult books. Some of the books are used as reference for the C.C.D. classes.


The Parish Council was formed in 1965 to co-share in the administration of the parish. Fr. John Loughlin and Mr. Joseph DeSilvestro, Lay Asst., explained the workings of a parish council as advised by Vatican II. A Catholic Association Board of Education was formed and a Parish Library, with heads of parish organizations to be a part of the board.

In 1966 a CEA Booklet was compiled to give to parents a better understanding of our Catholic Education program and for better cooperation, between parents and CCD teachers.

A Marquette Parents Club was formed and plans for a Marquette Youth Club. Mrs. Justin Aubry was president of the CDA Board. Mrs. Joseph Maier was director of the Adult Education classes, which met in the homes of parishioners. Sr. Virginia Marie, RSM assisted the two groups.

A Religious Supply shop was set up at this time, in the library area of the Church Hall. Mr. Joseph DeSilvestro, a professional educator and lay assistant to Fr. Loughlin was principal of the parish Catholic Education Association. Classes for the CCD program, were held in the McKinley Annex of the local public schools.

In June of 1967 Mrs. Joseph Maier succeeded Mrs. Aubry as president of the Catholic Association Board. Mrs. August Vangelisti, Librarian, to replace Mrs. J. Costello. A volunteer committee assisted the librarian. The Cathholic Education Association was replaced by a formal Board of Education; and an election was held and voted on by the parish, for Board members, Edmund Pellino was elected president. At that time Mrs. August Vangelisti and Mrs. Kenneth Peddicord were also elected. Other members of the original board were: Mrs. Joseph Maier, Mrs. James Costello, Bab Morello, Joseph Jakupcak, Robert Mulvany, Louis Guenzain, and Mrs. Justin Aubry, president ex-officio.

The Parish Council asked all organizations to write up their Constitutions and By-Laws, then they will be combined into one unit, to include all phases of the parish program. It will then be called the Parish Council Constitution and By-Laws.

The Parish Council functioned until 1970. A new Council was formed in 1971 with nine members elected by the parish. Mrs. Margaret Frame was the first president. Other members were vice president, Secretary, Treasure and Commission committee members. In 19783 Mrs. John White was elected president of the parish council. The council meets the second Wednesday of each month.


In 1968 Mr. Joseph DeSilvestro organized the acolytes into the KNIGHTS OF THE ALTAR. To raise funds, they had monthly paper and glass drives. In 1970 they went on a six-day eastern trip. There were 42 acolytes on a chartered bus. They toured Gettysburg, PA.., Washington D.C., Williamsburg, VA., Cherokee, N.C., and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They were accompanied by their advisor. At present there are 72 acolytes, led by our associate pastor, Father Raymond Jacobowski and some of the older boys.


In October of 1971 a new LAY COMMITTEE was formed. Their main object was to raise funds to supply our new rectory with much needed household and every day items. They started out with an auction sale of donated articled and cleared $750.00. Plans are in progress now to have another fund-raising project of sometime this coming fall. The money raised by this project will be wisely spent, with the proper people consulted as to what is needed.

They also have other projects, from September to May they make and sell home made ravioli. At Christmas time they made baskets of fruit and cookies for the senior citizens of the Parish and for Easter they made Bunny Rabbits filled with Easter candy for them.


In March of 1971 the People for People’ Youth group was formed under the guidance of Mr. Gene Donna. Officers were, president, Larry Pellegrini, Vice president, Reid Silver, secretary, Michelle McGowan, and treasurer Renee Silver. The youth group has been maintained over the past years as a parish group, trying to do for the good of the parish. Officers for 1972-1973 are Pres. Doug Buff, Vice Pres. Cindy Pellegrini, Sec. Carla Holcomb and Treas. Mike Baudine. The group is presently under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Holcomb.


The girls’ choir was begun in about 1958 under the direction of Miss Elizabeth Costello. The first organist, at that time, was Mrs. Tim Bingham. In 1959 she resigned and Mrs. Frank Raimondo was organist. In the Fall of 1960, Mrs. Raimondo became the director and organist of the girls’ choir. Under her direction, they had fund raising projects to purchase red robes and new music; as well as social outings. The girls’ choir is still active. There is also an adult choir who sang at funerals. Mr. Babs Morello is organist at the 7 A.M. Mass; the girls’ choir at the 8:30 Mass and Mrs. Beverly Gondolfi and Mrs. Marilyn Lovell are organists for the 10:00 o’clock Sunday Mass. Mr. Bob Sineni is organist for the 5:00 P.M. Mass on Saturday evening.

In 1964 Mrs. James Costello organied a boys’ choir. It sang at the first Sunday Mass for 2 years. It was then disbanded. Philip Spampanato was organist for this group.

PASTORS FROM 1983 - 2021

Father Donald R. Schladen followed Father Divan as pastor from 1983 – 1999. Fr. Schladen was very invested in Catholic School Education. He would meet with the student and parents and informed them that they would have to help the parish by being active parishioners which would include Altar Servers, Choir members and work at the Annual Fund Raiser the ravioli/chicken dinners. The Food Pantry was started at St. Joseph’s with Dale and Beverly England who were in charge. As rewards for being Altar Servers, Fr. Schladen would take the boys and chaperons to Great America, Cubs Games, State Fair, Indiana Beach. He would take all the CCD teachers out for dinner at Christmas time and end of the year in appreciation of their hard work. Mrs. Jayme Cook was director of the Youth Choir in 1988, then in 2000 she became the director of the Adult Choir. In 2000 things change and Mrs. Janet Long became the organist, Mrs. Sarah Schaefer director and Mr. Duane Berkland on the bongo drums. With the retirement of St. Patrick’s pastor in Ransom in 1999, St. Patrick-Ransom became a mission church of St. Joseph’s. Mrs. Jayme Cook was secretary from 1981 – 2000, when Carole Shurlow became secretary.



Father Anthony [Tony] Dittmer, a native of St. Joseph’s parish, and a 1987 Graduate of Ottawa High School was ordained a secular priest on July 12, 1997 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois. Having graduated from Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, MN., he attended North American College in Rome from 1993-1997. He is presently a teacher, Chaplin, and Hispanic minister for Spanish speaking people at St. Thomas Moore High School in Champaign, Illinois. His parents are Richard and Ramona Dittmer of St. Joseph’s parish in Marseilles, Illinois.

Fr. Glenn Harris - 1999 – 2000 – Though he was only here for a year, he got right in there when it came time for the Ravioli Dinner by helping make the ravioli. Fr. Harris was also the pastor for St. Patrick’s Church in Ransom. Mrs. Rose Rogalla started sending out Birthday, Get Well, Sympathy, and Thinking of you cards.

Fr. Bowen Schmidt – 2000- 2005 - He started a youth team. They would meet on Monday nights for Youth Group and after would watch the football games together. Fr. Bo was very active with the parish activities trying to keep the young people involved. For the Ravioli Dinner he turned it into an Italian Restaurant. Fr. Bo was also pastor for St. Patrick’s until they were closed. Fr. Bo met with the architects to help design the new church the new Sanctuary. The children had a Saturday of learning to make pasta while the lady parachinar’s were the instructors. The children had a ball. Homemade Baptismal garments were made by Mrs. Rose Rogalla for children being Baptized at St. Joseph’s.


Rose Jakupcak, a native of St. Joseph’s parish and a 2001 graduate of Marquette High School, received the Dominican habit of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aug. 5, 2002. She took the name of Sister Maria Frassati. Her parents are Joe and Dr. Janet Beck Jakupcak of St. Joseph’s parish in Marseilles, Illinois.

Msgr. J. Brien Rejsek – 2005- 2013 – Msgr. would take a bus full of people to with him on bus trips to Chicago where we would visit museums, churches, of different nationality’s and then go out to eat at a restaurant that would reflect the museums or churches visited. He also had a Philippine dance group come and give a demonstration and then Pilipino food was served. Msgr. took over the renovation of the Sanctuary and the church. He was instrumental in getting the Thanksgiving celebration where the children would dress as pilgrim boys or girls and also as Indian boy or girl. The celebration of St. Joseph’s Feast Day came about thanks to Mrs. Rose Buck and Mrs. Connie Cavanaugh who researched the ways of celebration. There was special food as this feast day comes during Lent, so the meal was meatless, frittata, cheese pizza, fruit and each was given a Holy Card of St. Joseph with a Fava bean and dessert. At Christmas time the children would dress as the Holy Family bringing baby Jesus to the manger, and the three wise men on the Epiphany.

On April 19, 2013 barges hit the dam and flooded a big section of the town, including the church. We were invited by Pastor Rev. David Utes to celebrate our Masses at the Immanuel Lutheran Church on W. Bluff St.; we were there for a couple of months. Msgr. was then transferred to Lewistown. Msgr. Halfacre was then in charge of our parish and Fr. Ray Guthrie celebrated Mass here.

  • Fr. Gabriel Msoka– AJ – 2013 – 2014 – Arrived here on Pentecost Sunday.
  • Fr. Anthony {Tony} Ego – 2014 – 2018
  • Fr. Ghislain Inai, SMA was Pastor from 2018-2019 St. Patrick’s in Seneca. St. Joseph’s in Marseilles. 2019 Returned to Africa. 2020 Pastor St. Joseph, Marseilles; St. Patrick, Seneca; St. Patrick, Ransom; St. Theresa, Earlville; St. Mary, Grand Ridge.

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.

Fr. Odelin SMA spend six months here at which time he saw his first snowfall. Mr. Bruno took him skiing, and the Bruno grandchildren taught him to ice skate.

In March of 2020 the world was hit by a pandemic of the Corona Virus which closed all the Churches, schools and government buildings. For a month there were no services, but then Mass was celebrated with the congregation sitting in their cars and Fr. Kassa celebrated Mass. After quite a while Mass was celebrated in Church with social distancing, and masks. Every other pew was blocked off, Communion was only received in the hand.

Fr. Alexander Millar - 2020– Parochial Vicar St. Joseph. Marseilles, St. Patrick. Ransom, St. Patrick. Seneca, St. Theresa. Earlville and St. Mary. Grand Ridge. In July restrictions were lifted and we were able to celebrate Mass without face masks and social distancing.