On October 22, 1947, Fr. Morgan O'Brien established St. Bernadette Parish. A wind-swept patch of prairie and swampland that would be transformed into what is now Saint Bernadette Parish, was originally the northwest quadrant of the property owned by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary.
That first winter, Masses were held in "Ketchum's Funeral Chapel", while footings were placed for the first church of Saint Bernadette, called "Lourdes Hall", or simply the "Quonset Hut". It wouldn’t be until over ten years – and countless fundraising efforts by our first parishioners – later, that first Mass in our present church was celebrated on February 9, 1958.
In 1949, St. Bernadette School, then just a 12-room school building, opened to receive 300 students. It was in then that our parish first received one of its greatest and most constant blessings: the dedicated involvement of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. Throughout the ‘50s, the school continued to grow. In 1954, the first stage of the "Little School" was opened: five second-floor classrooms were added in September, 1959: four more in March, 1961.
The '60's brought momentous changes in both the liturgy and the organizational structure of the parish as well, by the end of the decade, a School Board and Parish Council were in place, with real authority to make the myriad administrative decisions required to keep the parish and school functioning and responsive to the needs of the times and the people. An active Liturgy Committee and Parish Choir provided avenues for lay participation in the spiritual life of St. Bernadette.
The '70's saw a significant increase in the families who wanted to provide continuing religious education for their children attending the village's public schools, and thus our Religious Education program was established.
The 80's was the start of our "Renew" program as a way of fostering spiritual growth, and the parish also had "BERNADAYS" for four years as one of our fundraising events.
The 90's continued to be promising years in our parish, and saw the beginning of our now-annual parish Rib Fest in September. The decade culminated in the high point, our "Golden Jubilee" in 1997.
Though our parish has gone through some changes recently, with the closing of our beloved school, our parish continues to thrive and grow under the leadership of our pastor, Fr. Benedykt Pazdan, and the efforts of our dedicated parishioners. With growing ministries, new community-wide events like the Motorcycle Mass, and the success of our recent parish transformation and To Teach Who Christ Is capital campaign, our parish is truly alive now more then ever.
See more historical photographs of the parish