After 94 years, St. Mary's still going strong

Opinion: Kosey Corner

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By Joanne Kosey


Who would have thought back on Sept. 12, 1926, when St. Mary Parish in Riverside was established that on Sept. 13, 2020 I would be a member of the parish, watching Mass at home on TV from Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. 

I assure you it is not our intention, but is an accommodation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are other options, but this was the most suitable for us. We are never late for Mass (almost) don't have to worry about a parking space (car's in the garage), don't have to worry about what to wear (jammies are acceptable) and keep the prescribed distance from the only other person in the house (Husband Joe). 

There is no wine, but coffee will suffice. While we do miss the interaction with fellow parishioners, we do know the day will come again, though not soon enough.

We have enjoyed the service and the homilies given by Cardinal Cupich. He has his timing right down, although I do believe there is someone cueing him. He gets Mass done in a half hour, complete with a commercial reminding how to continue giving offerings.

 St. Mary Parish just celebrated 94 years, and much has happened in those years. The original church was located in Lyons before moving to Riverside on Blackhawk Road and then to its present location on Herrick Road. 

The church itself faced Herrick Road while the attached two-story school facing East Burlington Street. The school had 49 students in grades one through six taught by the Sisters of St Joseph, whose motherhouse was in LaGrange.

The parish maintained quite a bit of property. Across Herrick Road from the church, facing Longcommon Road, were two Victorian structures.  The rectory for the priests was directly across from the church next door to the convent for the nuns.

Over the years, the parish has built an addition to the original school and a parish center. The old convent and the rectory were razed, making way for a new rectory, and just last year the parish purchased a former bank branch on Burlington Street for office and meeting space. The interior of the church has been remodeled numerous times.

What hasn't changed? The lovely stained glass windows and the heart of the parish which, looks forward to resuming services on Sunday and weekdays and for loyal parishioners to greet each other with a handshake of peace. May the day come soon for all of us.

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