The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

September 4, 2013

Marking 100 years

St. Paul's Catholic Church to celebrate anniversary Sunday


The parish continued to grow from the 1950s into the 1970s, led by the Rev. Charles B. Motsett, who arrived after the parish had grown to 400 families. The parish boundaries now included Catholics living northwest of the intersection of the New York Central Railroad tracks and Bowman Avenue. He created St. Paul’s Elementary School and Schlarman High School. The church grew to 800 families during his time.

The school was opened in 1956 at a cost of $176,000 and offered grades one through five, with three Sisters of the Holy Cross and one lay teacher staffing the school the first year. In 1958 the Holy Cross sisters moved into the former home of Dr. Mason at 1316 N. Vermilion (later serving as a rectory from the 1990s on), which was remodeled to accommodate eight sisters. By 1959 the school expanded with a five-room addition and offered grades one through eight, with the first eighth-grade class graduating in 1960. A third addition was built in 1963, and the school grew to 600 students by 1965.

The 1970s and 1980s saw continued growth in the size of the parish and the introduction and expansion of various programs, including Parish Council begun by the Rev. John O’Toole.

The Rev. Thomas Shea oversaw an extensive renovation of the interior of the church in the early 1980s, which included a new main altar and a baptismal area at the entrance of the church. By the end of the 1980s, the parish had grown to almost 1,200 families.

In 1988, the Rev. Donald Henderson and the parish celebrated the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the church with several celebrations and a time capsule buried at the southwest corner of the church.

In the 1990s St. Paul’s benefited from several initiatives of the Rev. Douglas Hennessy, including various liturgical and study opportunities.

Into the third millennium, the parish welcomed both the Rev. Jeffrey Lawrence and the Rev. Gregory Nelson as pastors, and prepared for the celebration of its 100th anniversary.

Also, the schools were restructured into Schlarman Academy in order to assure that Catholic education remains vibrant well into the future.

FYI St. Paul's Catholic Church, 1303 N. Walnut, will have a Mass to celebrate its centennial at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, with Bishop Daniel Jenky officiating. The 8:30 a.m. Mass has been canceled, but the 6:30 a.m. Mass will be held as scheduled. Its website is

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