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St. Mary's Catholic Church in New Trier will observe its centennial

St. Mary's Catholic Church, New Trier, is actually older than 100 years - A Catholic priest was serving the area in the mid-1850s.

But on Sunday, Oct. 21, the congregation will observe the 100th anniversary of the consecration of the church with a special Mass at 1 p.m.

Bishop Leo Piche will celebrate the mass. In addition to the Mass, there will be church tours, cemetery tours, historical displays and refreshments.

The church's history goes back more than 150 years. Father George Keller from the Order of Saint Benedict offered Mass in the Fox home in May 1856 and also baptized several children that day.

The first religious services held in the village of New Trier were at the house of Eugene Thein on section 12 in the fall of 1855. Fr. George Keller, the Catholic Priest who had conducted this initial worship, the following summer organized a parish and built the first Church in Hampton Township. This was a small log building, which was afterward used as a parsonage, until destroyed by fire.

Later a frame chapel/church seating approximately 200 people was constructed near where the present church stands.

Rev. John Bayer placed the cornerstone for a new limestone church on Ascension Thursday, May 5, 1864. This cornerstone can be seen above the present vestibule entrance.

As the years went by and the stone church became too small, the wood frame chapel, which was still nearby, was moved next to the stone church to accommodate the growing parish. This was the building arrangement until 1909 when Father Peter Stubinitsky made plans for the present brick church. While this new church was being built the people attended Mass upstairs in the school.

In preparation for the parish centennial in 1956, Father Nicholas Gillen supervised an extensive renovation.

As the men from the parish worked on the hall project, the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was uncovered under the old stage area. This statue was donated by the John J. Fuchs family for the stone Church and had been put there for safekeeping and forgotten. After this statue was repainted, it received a prominent place in the hall until renovations in 1977 when it was put in the arch-window above the main entrance.

Supervised by Father Marvin Klaers and the parish council another renovation began in 1976 and lasted for over a year. At this time the church received a whole new look.

Additional renovations have been done on the church in recent years, all designed to better serve the congregation and the community.