From reports of old Catholic settlers in Kane County, as recorded by R. Waite Joslyn and Frank W. Joslyn in a 1908 Kane County History, Father Maurice de St. Palais was the first priest to visit the Kane County area and say Mass in Elgin–and probably in St. Charles–in 1837.
Before St. Patrick Parish was established in 1851, missionary priests offered Mass in pioneer homes. Father John Guiguen and Father Dupontavice were among the priests who would come on horseback and by wagon from Chicago and Joliet to visit the Catholics in the Fox River Valley once every four months to say Mass and administer the sacraments.
In the 1840s, Catholics in the St. Charles area usually attended Mass near what is now Gilberts. Later, they were attended by Father William Feely, appointed pastor of St. Mary Parish in Elgin in 1848. It was Father Feely who began the construction of the St. Charles church. However, he completed only the exterior of the church. The records are not clear as to who actually completed the interior of the church.
On July 9, 1851, Chicago Bishop James O. Van de Velde visited St. Charles to dedicate the newly finished St. Patrick Church.
Bishop Van de Velde divided St. Patrick Parish from St. Mary Parish in Elgin in 1853. It was at this time that Father Patrick O’Dwyer (1853-1860) was appointed from Chicago as the first resident pastor of St. Patrick. The baptismal registers from St. Patrick Parish give proof that Father O’Dwyer was serving the people of St. Patrick as far back as December 5, 1852.
At this time the parish of St. Patrick’s included Elburn, West Chicago, and Geneva as missions. The people in the Batavia area also came to St. Patrick to fulfill their religious obligations until Father O’Dwyer purchased property in Batavia and Holy Cross Parish became a mission church of St. Patrick, sometime during the years from 1855 to 1860. People from Elburn continued to come to St. Patrick Parish until St. Gall’s was established officially as a parish in 1872. The people in Geneva continued to attend either the church in St. Charles or the Holy Cross Church in Batavia until Bishop Peter J. Muldoon, the first Bishop of Rockford, established St. Peter Parish in Geneva in 1912.
A Dominican priest, Father Michael Prendergast, O.P. (1870-1875), took up his duties as pastor. During his time as pastor he saw a hopeful future to the growth of Batavia and purchased for the site of a future parish in Batavia. It was at this time that he left St. Charles and went to Batavia to take up residence. From the early record, St. Patrick was treated as a mission of the Batavia church at this time. During the pastorates of the priests who succeeded Father Prendergast, it is believed that they resided in Batavia while caring for the parishioners at St. Patrick.
In June of 1883, Father Ambrose J. Goulet (1883-1886) made St. Patrick an independent parish again when he took up residence at pastor.
While he was pastor, Father Timothy Ryan (1905-1909) made many improvements in the church property and redecorated the interior of the church.
In May of 1909, Father Robert J. Carse (1909-1950) began his 41-year pastorate of the parish in St. Charles. Father Carse began the construction of the present church in 1911 and it was completed in 1912. On June 16, 1912, Bishop Peter J. Muldoon dedicated the new church. The rectory was also built at this time.
St. Patrick School was built in 1929, mainly with the donations of Mrs. George H. Rempe, as a memorial to her late husband. The school was staffed by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
During Father Thomas L. Walsh’s pastorate (1950-1956), the church, rectory, and convent were completely redecorated.
On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1959, Father Walter J. Ryan (1957-1969) broke ground for an addition to the school, and on March 17, 1960, Bishop Loras T. Lane dedicated the addition.
In 1970, the school, rectory, and convent were renovated and in 1975 the church was completely remodeled.
In 1977, St. Patrick Parish was divided into two parishes, and St. John Neumann Parish was established on the east side of St. Charles.
Thirty acres of land were purchased on Crane Road in 1987 to accommodate a new church for St. Patrick Parish. On December 8, 1991, Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill dedicated the new St. Patrick Mission Church. The 36,000-square-foot, 6-story church reflects the growth of Catholic families in the St. Charles area. The new church seats 1,200 people and a 15,000-square-foot multi-purpose room is attached to it. In January, 1993, the multi-purpose room was renamed the Father Thomas J. Dempsey Hall in the pastor’s honor.
Mass on January 1, 2001, offered by the pastor, Father Joseph B. Linster, celebrated the official kick-off of the sesquicentennial of St. Patrick Parish called “Celebrate 150!”
For more than 40 years, the parish has held the Shamrock Shuffle to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
In 2006 the parish began a capital project, “Building to do God’s Work”, to erect a new rectory, parish office, and school campus on the Crane Road property. In May of 2009, the work for the rectory and offices were completed. That same summer, work on the school was begun.
Msgr. Linster did and outstanding job leading the parish for almost 20 years. He retired from St. Patrick’s in November of 2013. Msgr. Steve Knox officially became the new pastor of St. Pat’s on July 1, 2014.
The link below accesses an in depth history of St. Patrick Parish from the book, History of Saint Patrick Parish, written by Father Robert R. Miller and published in 1975. Father Miller was an Associate Pastor of the parish at that time.
St Patrick Parish History (PDF document)