The word “parish” comes from the Greek word meaning “a way station”. It can mean a home away from home, a place of hospitality for the wayfarer and stranger. We wish for our parish community to be a gathering place for our parish family and all who are on the journey to the fullness of the Kingdom of God revealed in Jesus Christ while sojourners in this earthly realm.
The Parish of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (today St. Mary) began in 1858 when Fr. Peter Peters began celebrating Mass with a small group of Catholic families that settled in the coal-mining town of Trenton, Illinois. The people gathered for Mass in the home of Thomas McMahon and in the public school until a church was built in 1864 (with seating capacity of 200), at which time records of funerals and baptisms began to be kept. There was no resident pastor until Fr. Anthony Brefeld arrived in 1868. Before this time priests came from Highland, Aviston, and Breese.
The Catholic people built a small School in 1870 with Fr. Brefeld as the teacher; in 1876 some Sisters, Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, came to teach in the school. The parish continued to grow in membership so that by 1883 the church had to be enlarged and by 1902 parishioners built a new larger school. The 155 families of the parish recognized their need to gather in addition to Sunday Mass and built themselves a Parish Hall in 1914.
Around this time parishioners were organizing themselves in various societies and sodalities. There was the St. Joseph Society for men, the St. Martha Society for women, the St. Aloysius Society for young men, the St. Agatha Sodality for young women, the Children of Mary and the Holy Guardian Angel Society.
As the Trenton community continued to grow, the Catholic Church grew also. By 1950, while Fr. Gerard Netemeyer was pastor, the parish had once again outgrown their church building and construction of a new one began. The new church was completed in 1953.. Parishioners numbered approximately 1500 by 1955.
St. Mary Catholic School had to be enlarged in 1961; enrollment the following year was 314. Six years later the operation of St. Mary School was taken over by the public school district. The district leased the building from the church, some Sisters continued as teachers and Religion was taught each morning before the school classes began.
Fr. Clement Dirler was appointed pastor in 1966 when the reforms of Vatican Council II renewed St. Mary Parish as it did the universal church. The life of the parish, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgies, became even more so the work of the laity along with the clergy. In 1975 one of St. Mary's parishioners, John Dilley, was ordained the first permanent deacon in the diocese of Belleville and assisted with the leadership of the parish.
When Fr. Robert Flannery was appointed pastor in 1990, the people continued assuming greater responsibility for parish life through the establishment of Pastoral and Financial Councils and various committees. Because the number of priests was beginning to decline, the parish hired its first religious woman as Pastoral Associate in 1991. The elementary religion program, which was held daily, switched to a Sunday morning program. The sanctuary of the church was given a major renovation in 1998, with the conversion of the communion rail into a new ambo and baptismal font and the addition of the Supper at Emmaus Triptych.
Fr. Jim Dougherty served the parish as pastor from 1999 to 2008. During his pastorate, Fr. Jim was assisted in the care of the parish by Sister Angela Schage, ASC, who served as Pastoral Associate and Director of Religious Education. It was during this time that the religious sisters of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ completed their time of ministry at St. Mary. They had served at the parish since 1876 to 2000. With religious sisters no longer residing in the convent building, it was converted to use for the parish offices and meeting space, enabling the rectory to be used as only a residence for the pastor.
After Fr. Dougherty retired from the active ministry, Rev. Albert “Gene” Kreher became pastor in 2008. He hired the first lay woman, who was not a religious sister, to serve the parish as pastoral associate, Ms. Jeanne Thompson. She served the parish for one year from 2010-2011.
On May 22, 2010, the latest native son of the parish, Rev. Sean Palas was ordained to the parish, joining 10 other men of the parish called to priesthood over the years. There have been 27 women from the parish that have joined the Poor Handmaids (21), Franciscian (5) and Notre Dame (1) religious communities and one man who joined the Society of Mary.
In July 2011, Fr. Kreher retired as pastor and the Rev. Joseph C. Rascher, (Fr. Joe), was appointed by Bishop Edward Braxton to be our pastor. Also, in July 2011, Mrs. Kim Moss was hired as the coordinator of Religious Education. Fr. Joe initiated a strategic planning process in the autumn of 2011 with the assistance of the Pastoral Council to help invigorate parish life and community in conjunction with the Diocese of Belleville Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring mandated by the bishop that year.
In addition to addressing pastoral concerns, Fr. Rascher has overseen the tuck pointing and waterproofing of the church building and construction of new driveways and sidewalks around the church during the 60th anniversary year of its dedication. Using this anniversary of the buildings dedication, the parishioners are observing the months between its Patronal feast day (February 2, 2013) and the actual anniversary date of December 8, 2013 (The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception) as a time of “re-dedicating” themselves to be the Living Stones that build up the church as described in the First Letter of St. Peter with the theme “Then: Dedicating Sandstones – Now: Rededicating Living Stones.”
As part of The Pastoral Plan for Parish Renewal and Restructuring, St. Mary parishioners and its pastor will begin meeting in 2013 to discuss with St. George Parish in New Baden, IL, how the two parishes can collaborate in “partnership” preparing for the day when they may have to share a priest as pastor of both parishes. In the meantime, the pastor, councils and staff continue to collaborate as they have for many years with nearby parishes in various pastoral concerns such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Confirmation celebrations, Youth Ministry and other activities.
Baptismal preparation classes are held once a month, usually on the second Sunday, from 10:15-11:15 a.m. and are required for the first baby of parents in the parish. Godparents are also invited to attend if they wish. We suggest that this class be taken before the baby arrives. Parents must schedule this class through the parish secretary prior to the second Sunday of the month.
Since all sacraments are public celebrations of the entire parish, we strongly urge that Baptisms take place during one of the weekend liturgies. Exceptions to this must be arranged through the pastor.
We extend an open invitation to anyone who wishes to learn more about the Catholic Church and what would be involved in being baptized or making a Profession of Faith to enter into membership in the Roman Catholic Church.
Sessions are held weekly from September until Easter. These meetings begin only as a time of inquiry and information and do not require a final decision until the beginning of Lent (six weeks before Easter).
Reconciliation is offered every Saturday afternoon from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. or anytime by appointment with the pastor.
The Communal Celebration of Reconciliation is offered on one of the Sundays during the Advent and Lenten Seasons.
First Reconciliation is celebrated each year by our second graders prior to their First Communion. Preparation for this sacrament is held during the Sunday parish school of religion classes and a preparation class for parents is held annually.
First Communion is normally celebrated annually in May for our students in the second grade. Preparation for this sacrament is held during the Sunday parish school of religion classes and a preparation class for parents is held annually.
Members of the parish family are commissioned to bring Communion from the parish Eucharist to the home-bound or those in nursing care facilities. Pastoral Care visits by the pastor or the pastoral associate are provided generally on the first Friday of the month to those who request them.
Confirmation is normally celebrated annually in May for our students in the eighth grade. There is a two year preparation for this sacrament and is held during the Sunday parish school of religion classes, as well as once a month on a Sunday evening for the second year of preparation. There is also a preparation class for parents and sponsors annually.
Older students who have not been confirmed can arrange for the Sacrament through the pastor.
We request a six-month notification and preparation period for the celebration of this sacrament. Arrangements must be made through the pastor. The preparation consists of a Pre-Cana Day or Engaged Encounter Weekend, as well as a marriage values inventory called Prepare, which is arranged through the pastor. Guidelines for the wedding ceremony are also provided through the pastor.
Anyone entering the hospital for elective services is asked to schedule this Sacrament through the pastor or the parish office prior to entering the hospital. Normally this Sacrament is celebrated after one of the weekend liturgies, but can be arranged for any time.
Emergency Anointing of the Sick is available at any time.
The communal celebration of Anointing is held on a Sunday during the Advent and Lenten Seasons.
Our parish staff is here to coordinate and develop the pastoral needs of our parish family.
PastorFr. Joseph C. Rascher
Our Pastoral Council is to carry out the mission of our parish family by developing the leadership and the vision of our pastoral and spiritual programs. The Council consists of twelve members from the parish who are chosen by discernment of the parish and Council. The two Parish Trustees, Pastor, and the Pastoral Associate also serve on the Council.Meeting minutes
Our Financial Council is to oversee the temporal and physical needs of our parish family by annually submitting a budget to the parish and a year-end financial statement of parish expenses, as well as parish financial assets. The Council consists of six appointed members, as well as the two Parish Trustees and the Pastoral Associate.
The purpose of the Youth Committee is to foster the personal and spiritual growth of the high school youth and to draw them into participation in the life of the church. Both gathered and non-gathered activities are planned in the areas of community, service, worship, and religious education. Some youth meet monthly and plan activities to do together. Others participate in church in individual ways. The youth are actively involved in planning events along with the Youth Committee.Activities for elementary Activities for high school
The purpose of the Liturgy Committee is to enhance parish liturgical celebration--making them meaningful and life-giving for the people through some diversity, especially in the areas of environment, music, and ritual.
Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers, Servers, Gift Bearers and Greeters are assigned through a schedule prepared by our parish secretary, Betsy Horstmann. (Phone 224-9335)
For musicians' schedule contact Ann Zeisset at 224-7918.
For ushers' schedule contact Dale Zurliene at 224-7353.
The purpose of the Parish Life Committee is to enhance the social life of the parish and foster community development by organizing events, such as potluck dinners for Holy Thursday, Picnic-in-the-Park, the parish patronal feast, receptions for Christmas Eve, First Reconciliation, Confirmation, and the Easter Vigil. Some members also visit and welcome new parishioners.
The purpose of the Faith Formation Committee is to provide Christian education and faith formation opportunities for the parish. We believe faith is fostered through our liturgy, community and service experiences; yet we also believe additional educational and spiritual opportunities are beneficial for growth in faith. The committee gives priority to adult faith formation. Occasional input is also given on other initiatives for the elementary and secondary students.
Contact the parish office at 224-9335 for elementary Parish School of Religion (PSR), vacation bible school, or high school faith formation.
Contact Father Joe at 224-9335 for marriage or baptismal preparation.
The Holy Name Men's Sodality exists to assist and support the parish in whatever way it can. The two chief areas of focus for this group are the Youth and the Cemetery. Two subcommittees organize efforts in these two areas.
Two fundraisers are held annually: a turkey bingo in the fall to benefit the cemetery and a cash bingo in the spring to benefit the youth.
Meetings are held four times a year.
President: Kurt Wehrle (Phone 537-9551)
Vice President: Mark Moss
Treasurer: Pete Schumacher
Secretary: Dale Gall
The St. Mary Ladies Sodality assists the Parish by responding to various needs through its services and financial support. Some of the Sodality's services include hosting funeral luncheons, helping with parish dinners, supporting youth ministry and altar servers, and providing candles, bread, wine, and hymn books for church liturgies. Some projects and activities extend beyond the parish as well.
Fundraisers include spring and fall rummage sales, quilt-of-the-month raffle, monthly card party on the 4th Wednesday of the month.
Meetings are held monthly on the 4th Tuesday evening of each month, except not during the summer months.
President: Diane Palas (Phone 224-9282)
Vice President: Carolyn Poettker (Phone 224-7572)
Secretary: Jeanne Boulanger (224-9283)
Treasurer: Bette Breiner (Phone 224-9986)
The mission of this Knights of Columbus (instituted June 10, 1945) is to render financial and physical aid to its members and their families; to render mutual aid and assistance to its sick, diabled, and needy members and their families; to promote social and intellectual communication among its members and their families; to promote and conduct educational, charitable, religious, and social activities among its members and their families.
Fundraisers include the following: Annual Shooting Match held last Sunday of September; Euchre Tournaments scheduled the third Sunday of each month, September through June; the MR/LD Drive held the third weekend of September; and the Turkey Raffle held in November.
Meetings are held monthly, normally on the first Wednesday of each month at 8:00 PM in the Parish Center.
Catholic Fraternal Life provides life insurance, financial services, and volunteer programs for its members and their communities. CFL is a fraternal organization based in Belleville, Illinois, and has served members for more than 118 years. Through the years, CFL has provided occasional financial support to various programs or needs in St. Mary Parish and beyond. To learn more about the organization, contact the home office at 1-800-240-2554.
Meetings are held Monthly.
President: Dan Haselhorst (Phone 224-7305)
Fraternal Secretary: Dana Weh
We provide the following links to other websites solely for the user's convenience.
By providing these links, the parish of St. Mary assumes no responsibility for, nor does it
necessarily endorse, these websites, their content, or their sponsoring organizations.
This site provides a wealth of information on the Roman Curia, Vatican News Services, Liturgical services, Vatican City State, archives, and the Vatican library and museums.http://www.vatican.va/
This is the web site of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. This site contains the Conference Departments, Bishop's Statements, Bookstore, all Bishops and Dioceses, along with latest Catholic national and international news items. This site also provides links to other useful web sites for the user's convenience.http://usccb.org/
This is the web site of our diocese. This site contains the diocesan directory, news and events, a listing of all school and parishes, as well as our diocesan clergy and religious. It also contains Catholic resources, position openings, as well as our diocesan newspaper, The Messenger.http://diobelle.org/
This is the web site of our diocesan newspaper and contains current issues, diocesan calendar, archives and supplements, as well as the Young Messenger.http://bellevillemessenger.org/
This site, maintained by the National Conference of Bishops, lists the daily readings of the current day, as well as the entire month. Along with this, the site contains articles on Vatican II, frequently asked questions about the Bible, the Liturgical year, and other Catholic issues, along with an excellent Way of the Cross.http://usccb.org/bible/readings/
This site lists Mass time by city and by zip/phone for the churches in the United States.http://masstimes.org/
This site will provide the news services of the National Catholic Reporter with daily updates on news items of interests to Catholics on the national and international level. Of particular interest is the weekly report from John Allen (click on "The Word from Rome") and a weekly homily by Bishop Gumbleton (click on "The Peace Pulpit").http://ncronline.org/
All Saints Academy, located in Breese, Illinois (approximately 10 miles from Trenton) is the nearest Catholic parochial grade school to Trenton. This site will provide general information, newsletter, school activities and faculty.http://asasaints.com/
Mater Dei High School , located in Breese, Illinois (approximately 10 miles from Trenton) is the nearest Catholic high school. This site will provide general information, newsletter, school activities and faculty, campus ministry, alumni and athletics.http://materdeiknights.org/
Wesclin Community School District, K-12, serves the two communities of Trenton and New Baden. This site will provide general information on all four school campuses, newsletter, school activities, faculty, and athletics.http://wesclin.k12.il.us/
This site is intended to help families put faith first in their homes. It has sections for different age groups: Kids' Clubhouse for grades K-3, Kids Only Club for grades 4-6, Teen Center for grades 7-8, Faith First for Families for parents. It is presented by the text book publisher we use for some of our PSR text books.http://faithfirst.com/
This site is presented by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, the congregation to which Sister Angela belongs. It contains lots of information about this religious community of Sisters, as well as, various information to boost one's spiritual life.http://adorers.org/