St. Mary’s Church
415 W. Chatham Street
PO Box 319
Metamora, IL 61548
St. Mary’s, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, was established in Metamora in 1863 when Mass was offered in the Metamora Courthouse, the same edifice where young lawyer Abraham Lincoln would ride the circuit and argue cases.
Before that, the Catholic faithful attended services at Lourdes Church.
The Metamora church was built in 1864 and enlarged and dedicated in 1877. Early records indicate members of German, French, and Irish origin.
In early years, the church was served by priests of the Redemptorist Order in Chicago who covered both Lourdes and St. Mary’s churches.
The first school began in 1875 with Charles Wernert, a parish member as teacher. Today it is the only Catholic school in Woodford County.
After the formation of the Peoria diocese in 1877, the Capuchin Order took over St. Mary’s and rebuilt the church into its present form. They also added a parsonage which was used until destroyed by fire in 1910 after which the present residence was erected.
In 1894 another change took place when the church came under the control of the Franciscan Fathers of St. John the Baptist province in Cincinnati. St. Mary parish returned to the care of diocesan priests in 20o1.
St. Elizabeth Parish
411 E Parkside Dr
Washburn, IL 61570-9405
Phone: (309) 248-7151
The congregation of St. Elizabeth’s church, then known as an out-mission, was established in 1878 under the supervision and direction of a Franciscan missionary who was assistant pastor of St. Mary’s church in Metamora. Many of the pioneer members of this congregation had been driving with their families in lumber wagons to attend Mass at St. Mary of Lourdes or in Metamora or Lacon.
A building committee was appointed, land was purchased at the corner of Jefferson and Magnolia Streets and a cornerstone was laid in 1879. Financial depression delayed completion of the frame building and it was not dedicated until 1882. Because Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Adami had been especially generous contributors, the parish named the church “St. Elizabeth” in honor of Mrs. Adami. The Capuchin Order, a branch of the Franciscan Order, had charge of the parish until 1895. Then the parish went under the charge of the Franciscan Friars Minor of the Cincinnati Province.
The first baptism was May 12, 1878; the first funeral was Nov. 23, 1880, and the first marriage was Jan. 11, 1887.
In 1946, lightning struck the church spire and sparked a fire to the belfry and adjacent areas, causing considerable damage. The church was repaired, but the bells were placed on the inactive list upon destruction of the church spire.
On the morning of Dec. 17, 1958, another fire gutted the 76-year old church. Father Conradin Burtschy, OFM, pastor at the time, suffered burns as he attempted to save the Blessed Sacrament. The congregation, salvaging what they could, removed to the Social Center, which had been built in 1950, where services were held until the new $110,000 limestone structure could he completed. The cornerstone for the replacement church was laid in Sept. 1959, and on Sunday, Oct. 23, 1960, the church was consecrated. The bells were again hung. The church sanctuary was renovated prior to the celebration of the parish centennial in 1978.
A Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, built by the men of the parish, was blessed and dedicated on Aug. 2, 1959.
Both St. Elizabeth and St. Mary parishes were returned to the care of diocesan priests in 2001.
Due to declining membership, a scarcity of priests, the proximity of neighboring parishes and financial considerations, the parish became merged with St. Mary’s Parish in Metamora in the summer of 2015.