St. Margaret Mary Parish History

Fr. Joe Voss
Fr. Joe Voss

St. Margaret Mary Parish was established on July 12, 1980, formed from parts of two already existing parishes: St. Peter and Paul, Naperville (established 1846) and St. Joan of Arc, Lisle (established 1924). St. Margaret Mary became the 111th parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet (established 1949).

Auxiliary Bishop Daniel W. Kucera, O.S.B., acting as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese after the resignation for health reasons of the second bishop of Joliet, Romeo R. Blanchette, established this new parish. As Abbot, of St. Procopius, he had made the decision to sell much of the farm land the Benedictines owned, which in turn became the Green Trails development.

It was the growing population of Green Trails, along with the development of what was then the new southeast section of Naperville that attracted sufficient numbers of Catholics to warrant the establishment of St. Margaret Mary Parish.

By the time the first pastor was appointed, Bishop Joseph Imesch was the new bishop (having been an auxiliary bishop in Detroit, Michigan), and Auxiliary Bishop Dan Ryan (later Bishop of Springfield) informed Fr. Joe Voss, associate pastor of St. Mary's, Downers Grove, that he would be the first pastor of St. Margaret Mary in Naperville. Fr. Voss served St. Margaret Mary Parish as pastor for approximately nine months before requesting and receiving a leave of absence on March 22, 1981.

Fr. Ted Weitzel
Fr. Ted Weitzel

Fr. Ted Weitzel, (ordained in 1968) was assigned as the second pastor on March 25, 1981. The early Masses were celebrated at Steeple Run School, and very quickly a parish Pastoral Council and a building committee were organized to plan for the future.

Active participation of parishioners in leadership has marked our history from its beginnings. Our Pastoral Council and four Commissions (Administration, Christian Education, Christian Service, and Christian Worship) form our leadership structure, and together have vigorously engaged in the critical decisions in our history. Many committees and task forces, consisting of hundreds of volunteer ministers over the years, have initiated and carried out the vital ministries that mark our parish life.

From the earliest days to the present, providing religious education for the children of the parish was a high priority. A qualified Religious Education Director, well-trained teachers, and adequate physical facilities were not only distant goals but promptly realized objectives. Sr. Esther O'Mara, IBVM was hired as the first Director of Religious Education. She worked diligently to attain the goals of well trained catechists and small religious education classes, which met first in homes and then in the parish center. Through her efforts, appealing and flexible classrooms were designed, which could also be used for meeting space. In 1990, Sr. Esther left for California and Sr. Elizabeth Crotty, IBVM, served as Director for 18 years, until her retirement. We welcomed Sue Davey to our pastoral team in July 2008.

As the numbers and age of the parish's youth grew, the parish developed a robust high school ministry. Polly Rausch served as the first high school youth minister, followed subsequently by Meg Gannon, Carol Riebold, Dorothy McKee, and Candy Rice. They developed formation opportunities including Quest groups, Confirmation programs, service projects, retreats and Peer Ministry programs. In August, 1987, Barbara Schmith was hired to provide leadership for the increased number of students in Junior High. In 1992, Michael Kazlauskas joined the staff, expanding this ministry by offering the Junior High Journey program, and other formation, service, and social opportunities. In 1997, Michael was joined by his wife Maria Kazlauskas, serving together as co-directors until June 2007. Patti Guare then served as director until 2012. In July, 2012, the junior high and high school ministries were combined into a single staff position. Dan Lawler was welcomed as our new Youth Ministry director.

In addition to religious education for the children and teens, St. Margaret Mary Parish has always placed a high priority on continuing education for adults. To that end, Sr. Madelyn Gould, SSSF joined the staff on July 1, 1983. Under her leadership, St. Margaret Mary Parish participated in the diocesan RENEW program. At the conclusion of this program, the annual parish mission, along with Bible Study and Morning and Evening Enrichment programs began.Shortly after, Christ Renews His Parish Retreats, Business Breakfasts and Table for Two were initiated.

Church Construction in 1982
Church construction in 1982

The construction of the worship space made visible the Benedictine heritage of the parish, as a comparison of Abbey and parish churches will attest. A building committee of ten met weekly for two years to plan for the construction of the church building. On October 15, 1983, the St. Margaret Mary Parish church was dedicated. Pride and exhilaration filled the hearts of the parishioners and Fr. Ted. Bishop Imesch presided at the dedication Mass, while the co-member choir, under the direction of Mark Lee, made joyful songs unto the Lord.

Once the church building was constructed and dedicated, even more members flocked to its doors. By late 1983, the parish had grown to 1065 families. Fr. Richard Jacklin joined the staff as Parochial Vicar in June, 1984, to assist in the pastoral services of the parish. Fr. Ron Rigovsky, OSB, continued to assist with weekend Masses.

Two permanent deacons, Ken Miles and Michael Beckley, were ordained in 1985; Deacon Michael departed in 1990. Fred Straub was ordained in 1989 and served as deacon here until 2001; but happily Deacon Fred returned to SMMP in July, 2012, after his retirement from full-time ministry.

On December 10, 1986, a tragedy struck St. Margaret Mary Parish. Fr. Richard had just completed a rehearsal with the Children's Choir and, while crossing Naper Blvd. at Green Trails on his way back to the rectory, was struck by a car. For two weeks he lay unconscious at Loyola Medical Center. St. Margaret Mary parishioners prayed daily - privately and communally - for his recovery. On Christmas eve, 1986, our prayers were answered as Fr. Richard responded with his first words. Nine months of physical therapy followed for Fr. Richard, while the parish grew to appreciate the power of prayer. Fr. Richard eventually returned to St. Margaret Mary Parish, but unfortunately he found the demands of the parish too taxing following his accident.He requested a transfer and left for Morris, Illinois in June, 1988.

Demands for the use of St. Margaret Mary facilities continued. The need for a business manager to oversee the scheduling and upkeep of the building became apparent. Sr. Mary Gallagher was hired for this position in January, 1987. Within months the need for additional space became urgent. A new wing was added and dedicated on October 15, 1989. Sr. Mary left St. Margaret Mary in June, 1992. John Conmy and later Michael Prus were hired to fill the position of Business Manager.

Fr. Larry Mullins joined the parish in June, 1988 as Parochial Vicar, and served until January 1993. Fr. Ron Rigovsky had departed shortly before Fr. Larry's departure. Times were turbulent during these months, but the Holy Spirit carried us through.

Inspiring liturgical music has always been a vital aspect of parish life. The Lumen Christi Choir (9:00 AM) and Contemporary Choir (10:45 AM) have enlivened our liturgies thoroughout our history. Our music was first led by Mark Lee, followed by Brian Bloye, Debbie Shalda, and Richard Hass. John Schlaman has continued this rich tradition as Music Director since 2005.

Christian Service has become another hallmark of St. Margaret Mary Parish. Throughout much of its history, St. Margaret Mary has contributed a significant portions of its weekly collections to organizations that help the needy. In 1990, it adopted Sharing Parishes - St. Nicholas and Sacred Heart in Aurora, Illinois. Parishioners have always contributed generously to the Christmas Giving Tree, Thanksgiving and Easter baskets, collections for the St. Vincent DePaul Society and the support of retired religious.

The occasion of Fr. Ted's 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood called for a celebration. Both a liturgical celebration and dinner-dance marked this occasion. One month after this celebration, Fr. Ted completed his twelve-year stay at St. Margaret Mary Parish in June 1993.

Fr. Bill O'Shea
Fr. Bill O'Shea

Fr. Bill O'Shea became our new pastor in June 1993. At the same time, Fr. Rick Dochstader joined us as Parochial Vicar, and served until 1998. He was followed in this role by Fr. Rey Treyes (1998-2000), Fr. Danny Soriano (2000-2005), and Fr. Dan Hessling (2005-2007).

Tom Cordaro, the first Justice and Outreach Minister, was hired (1997-present). Because of his leadership, SMMP was awarded the “Salt and Light” Award” in March, 2000. This award acknowledged parishes that best exemplify excellence in living the social mission of the church.

In 2001, St. Margaret Mary was designated as one of 300 excellent Catholic Parishes in the United States, by the Parish/Congregation Study and Pastoral Summit, led by Paul Wilkes.

Terry Taylor and Jim Perry were ordained to serve as permanent deacons in 2001. Jim has moved on to serve at St. Daniel in Wheaton, and Deacon Terry continues his fruitful ministry at SMMP. Our three deacons continue to play an important role in bereavement ministry, preaching, marriage preparation & enrichment, pastoral care, and many liturgical services for the parish.

All Saints Catholic Academy opened its doors in August, 2005. This regional school is sponsored by three Naperville Catholic parishes: St. Margaret Mary, St. Elizabeth Seton, and St. Thomas the Apostle.

After years of planning, fundraising, and construction, our new wing to our parish facility opened in September 2008. The new wing includes a foyer for the parish library, and the Upper Room, used for a variety of parish activities. As part of the project, the church offices relocated to the lower level of the wing, and religious education offices were centralized in the 1989 wing. All this movement created space for the new Teen Center, which opened in November 2008.

Fr. Paul Hottinger
Fr. Paul Hottinger

Fr. Bill O'Shea entered into retirement in June 2007, concluding 14 years as pastor of St. Margaret Mary. Our parish welcomed Fr. Paul Hottinger as pastor, looking forward with faith and hope to our future. Beyond the contributions of pastors, pastoral staff, and support staff, and hundreds of dedicated volunteer ministers, we honor the contributions of the entire faith community. Indeed we are all the Church, and the everyday lives of our people are the Church in prayer and action, working to transform the world. As a people gathered and led by the Holy Spirit, together we strive to discern and participate in God's mission.

As expressed in our parish Mission Statement, As a worshipping Roman Catholic parish family we are guided by a collegial partnership of laity, pastor, and ministerial staff. Together we seek to foster spiritual growth through the active practice of Christianity. By the sharing of our God-given talents and resources with all God' people, we strive for peace and justice as the ‘Parish with Heart.’

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