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St. Theresa Catholic Church
Our Parish History
The mission of St. Theresa Parish is to share Christ with others through the sacraments, education, prayer, and service.
Our Mission Statement
A movement to establish a Catholic parish in Palatine began in the nineteen twenties, when Palatine experienced a post-World War I boom. At this period in time, Palatine Catholics worshipped mostly at St. James Parish in Arlington Heights. The movement was progressing well, and then, along came the Great Depression. Still committed to having a parish closer to their homes, in the early months of 1930 a group of those involved in the movement canvassed the town of Palatine and outlying farms, acquainting Catholics with a plan for a new parish. Twenty-five Catholic families responded and donated amounts of $5.00 and $10.00.
A few were able to give $25.00, a large sum for those times. The Palatine business community generously gave a large contribution so that a sum of $1,243.50 was raised.
The old village hall on Slade Street was rented and the second floor remodeled by these parishioners. On Sunday, April 6, 1930, the little congregation climbed the winding stairway of the ancient structure to attend its first Mass there. This beginning parish was known as the St. Theresa Mission, a mission church of St. James Parish.
The enormous population growth in Palatine after the war marks the next stage of St. Theresa history. Barely in their new home for ten years, the congregation had already outgrown the church on Wood Street. The newcomers were also requesting a Catholic school and there was no land for expansion at the old location. The challenge of providing larger facilities to meet the congregation's growing needs fell on Father Arthur O'Brien, who had succeeded Father Murray in 1949
1952, the parish purchased five acres of land on North Benton and made plans to build again. In 1954, the school opened with 200 children enrolled, and in 1955, a chapel with seating for 500 opened in the basement of the school. Every Mass was packed with young families who spilled into the aisles and out onto the front steps.
Father O'Brien undertook the job of raising funds to build the church structure in which we worship today. A convent was built (now Pauline Center) in time. The little church on Wood Street was sold to an Hispanic congregation and is now known as the Mision Juan Diego. The new church on Benton Street was dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1961.
Father O'Brien died in April, 1965. Father James Dolan arrived in March of 1966 as the new pastor. During his years as pastor, a rectory was built on the church property, the large activities center, which today bears Father Dolan's name, was added, and the school building was expanded for a second time to accommodate a continually growing school enrollment.
The new pastor, appointed in 1981 after Father Dolan retired in 1980 was Father Robert Festle. Father Festle laid the groundwork for the flourishing lay ministries that exist in the parish today.
In May, 1987, Father Robert McGlynn was appointed pastor. He immediately expanded and broadened his predecessor's work with the lay ministries. He also undertook major repairs to the aging parish plant. As vocations to religious life decreased, the convent, which had once housed twenty-four nuns, took on new use. The first floor became home to a pre-school and all-day kindergarten. The second floor was developed into offices for the staffs of the School of Religious Education, the Ministry of Care, the Music Ministry and the Adult Education Program.
Our Parish Grows
Now and Into the Future
When Father McGlynn died unexpectedly in 1991, Father John P. McNamara became pastor of St. Theresa Parish. Under his guidance, St. Theresa parishioners embraced a long-range pastoral plan which defined ways to meet our parish's future needs. A major portion of the plan included major renovations to the church, Pauline Center and the school. In April, 2000, the first Mass was celebrated in the "new" church. Although the original walls and foundation remain, the extensive renovations created a totally new church, gathering area and connection to Pauline Center.
Presently, St. Theresa Parish numbers approximately 3,600 families. Nearly 340 children are enrolled in our school, and 340 more children are registered in our Religious Education program.
Father McNamara retired in 2001, and Cardinal Francis George appointed Msgr. Richard Zborowski as pastor for St. Theresa Parish. Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1978, he was the associate pastor at St. Hubert Parish in Hoffman Estates. He also served at St. Bede Parish in Ingleside, St. Joseph Parish in Chicago (Back of the Yards), Holy Ghost Parish in South Holland, and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Chicago (Hyde Park). Msgr. Richard left St. Theresa Parish in June 2013 and Fr. Tim Fairman from St. Bede’s Parish took over responsibilities of the parish.
If our deceased parish pioneers could return to worship with us now, what would be their reaction? Most likely, shock and awe at the changes in the liturgy, then wonderment at the sheer size of the parish and its buildings. What would be their amazement at the involvement of so many lay people in the liturgy and work of the parish.
And if these earlier parishioners could spend a day visiting our parish they would see St. Theresa as the spiritual center of the lives of Palatine Catholics just as it was fifty years ago. From the time of the first early morning Mass until the last meeting far into the night, St. Theresa Parish today, with its dedicated laity and clergy, stands as a beacon in Palatine. The lives of our present-day parishioners bear witness to Jesus Christ still living in this place more than a half century after it all began.
Here is our parish church. It is a means by which we may mount to heaven... In this church will be unfolded to us the story of Catholic faith and practice... Here...we rededicate ourselves to unity and to harmony in a great and unselfish labor for the greater honor and glory of God.