St. Patrick Church has a sister relationship with St. Mary Catholic Church, which is the oldest church in the Champagin-Urbana area. Actually, rather than a sister, it might be more accurate to call St. Mary Church our mother, because St. Pat has its origin in St. Mary. Parishioners formed a procession and walked from St. Mary to the grounds of St. Patrick before the first cornerstone was laid.
Currently, the two churches share priests. Fr. Joe Hogan is the pastor of both parishes, and Fr. Joseph Baker is the parochial vicar to both. The parishes are separate, but many parishioners go to either church for masses, the staff have Christmas dinner together, we invite each other to many of the events we hold, and sometimes hold events together, such as last year's Lenten Hispanic Fish Fry dinners, which were both delicious and healthy, and had the additional bonus of being accompanied by the Mayan band from St. Patrick, which really made it a festive event. (We joked that for being a time of fasting and thinking about our sins, we did an awful lot of eating and partying during Lent.)
We also jointly held an International Fair together at the Champaign County Fairgrounds (you can see pictures of the event in our photo gallery).
St. Mary's, like St. Patrick, has a richness in its cultural diversity. There are parishioners who speak English, Korean, Spanish, and Q'anjobal. There are about 200 Korean families in the parish, and the 10:00 choir will sing some songs in Korean and readings are translated into Korean as well. Weekly family-friendly bible studies are offered in Korean. There is a large Hispanic population as well, and a mass is partially translated into Spanish at 1:00 on Sundays. The Hispanic parishioners provide meals for the priests weekly and they host a huge celebration on the feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe, that draws over 1000 people from all over the region. There are also about 200 Mayan parishioners from Guademala, and a biweekly mass is held during which there is live translation from English into Q’anjobal. For more information about the Mayan people, you can read this article.
Or to learn to speak Q'uanjobal, try this website:
Daily Mass: Noon at Provena Covenant
Saturday Mass: 6 p.m.
- 8 a.m. (Every other Sunday)
- 10 a.m.
- 1 p.m. Spanish Mass Leader
Here is some History about St. Mary Church:
St. Mary Catholic Church first emerged alongside the introduction of the Illinois Central Railroad to Champaign County, Illinois in 1852 (St. Mary’s Vertical File). The labor-intensive project attracted approximately 8,000 to 10,000 workers. Most of the workers were Irish Catholics with a small German Catholic population as well. In order to provide religious services for the workers, Fr. Thomas Ryan of the Diocese of Chicago established a brick church in 1854 (St. Mary’s Vertical File). Within two years the church was officially recognized by the diocese. St. Mary Catholic Church was the first Catholic church in the area (St. Patrick’s Parish, 1994, p. 3).
St. Mary’s Parish expanded its ministry through a sustained construction effort. A pastoral center was erected in 1871, followed by a school in 1878, and a convent in 1885 (News-Gazette, October 24, 1891). Within a few years, plans were put forward to construct a new church building. The cornerstone of the new St. Mary Catholic Church was dedicated by the Diocese of Peoria on October 28, 1888 (St. Mary’s Vertical File). While the initial school accommodated 200 students, this figure grew. In 1915, Fr. Richard Flynn directed a St. Mary’s School building campaign to replace the existing facility. Fr. Flynn also helped to create St. Mary’s Emergency Hospital in 1920, which is Mercy Hospital today (St. Mary’s Vertical File).
The early growth of St. Mary Catholic Church was not without its difficulties. By the mid-twentieth century, the church community confronted a growing crisis in Catholic education. Catholic schools in the Diocese of Peoria suffered from a shortage in religious teachers and available funding. Much of the problem stemmed from the inability of parish schools to replace Catholic sisters who served as teachers. Many Catholic schools in the diocese were forced to shut down (O’Rourke, 1970, p. 141). Rather than follow suit, St. Mary Catholic School consolidated with Holy Cross Catholic School in 1968. The decision, in effect, closed St. Mary’s School and served as a turning point in the church’s history. In the absence of parochial education, religious education programs assumed greater significance (O’Rourke, 1970, p. 141). St. Patrick Catholic Church later provided many of these programs.