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About Our Parish

History of St. Henry Parish and School



    History of St. Henry Parish               

                                                                                  Belleville, Illinois


     Established in 1925, with fifty families, St. Henry Catholic Church was named for the patron saint of Bishop Henry Althoff.  The site of St. Henry Parish was once Priester’s Amusement Park, located north of the Rock Road, which now is West Main Street.  The amusement park ended its colorful era when the grounds were purchased by Bishop Henry Althoff in 1919. The Bishop planned to form the new parish and to bring the Oblates Fathers of Mary Immaculate to the Midwest to form a Mission House and a college for young men.

     The School Sisters of Notre Dame opened a grade school for 45 children in August 1925.  The first graduation from the St. Henry Grade School took place on June 13, 1926 with three graduates.

     The population of the parish was increasing  and there was a need to build a new church and school.  Bishop Althoff had purchased the Schmisseur estate and conveyed the land to the parish to be used as the site of the parish grounds.     In 1932, the "L" shaped  church and school buildings were dedicated by Bishop Althoff with the right wing containing the church with seating capacity of 300 persons.  The left wing had restrooms, a kitchen and storage area and a meeting room for social functions.  Later, in 1951, the new school and auditorium was dedicated by the Most Rev. Bishop R. Zuroweste in conjunction with the observance of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the parish.  

     In 1955, new parish boundaries were established and school enrollment continued to increase to a total of 285 students in the grade school and the church was very crowded during Sunday Masses.  Permission was granted from the Bishop to hold Mass in the newly completed auditorium.

      In August of 1960, the Chancery Office announced that the Oblates of Mary Immaculate would relinquish their pastoral responsibilities for St. Henry Parish.  Rt. Rev. Msgr. Leonard Bauer, S.T.D., became the pastor, the first diocesan priest to serve as the parish’s pastor. In 1965, the current St. Henry Church and rectory were built and dedicated by Bishop Zuroweste.  Rosary devotions were held at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine that was acquired from the Academy of Notre Dame when the school closed in 1972.

     St. Henry Parish has grown from a rural population of fifty families to a modern suburban area hosting 300 Catholic families.  Our church and school started in borrowed and shared buildings that had once served this community as an amusement park.  Now we enjoy a beautiful edifice built and consecrated to honor and serve God.







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