St. Mary Parish Riverside, Illinois
The earliest record of St. Mary is 1873 when a mission church was established. In 1875 the parish petitioned for the construction of the first church building at 45th and Joliet Road in nearby Lyons. This church was dedicated in 1876. In 1889 the parish had grown to 130 families and a site on Blackhawk Road in Riverside was acquired. The new church was dedicated December 8, 1901. By 1923 we had grown to 1,100 parishioners and construction on a new church began, with dedication of the current church and the original school occurring on September 12, 1926 by Cardinal Mundelein. By 1950 the school had grown to over 400 students and a school addition was constructed as well as a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph who were teaching in the school. The rectory was constructed from 1973-1975. Following an intensive planning process in 1995, plans for new facilities were developed as well as a stronger focus on our mission and ministries as part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “Tomorrow’s Parish” process. The convent was sold in 1995 and was developed as a private residence. In 1997, the school was expanded with additional classrooms, a new library and a parish center/gymnasium. Our worship space was refurbished and dedicated in 2003.
Mary is the greatest of all Christian saints, the Blessed Mother and Queen of the Church. She was chosen by God to bear his son Jesus, the second person of the Trinity who was God incarnate among us. Her acceptance of this role is the greatest act of obedience to God’s will. Mary helped initiate the ministry of Jesus at the wedding feast at Cana by asking him to perform his first miracle—turning water into wine. Mary was present at the crucifixion of Jesus. At her death, the Church holds that she was assumed into heaven. Feast days for Mary include the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) recognizing Mary as being born without sin, Mary’s birthday (September 8), the Annunciation (March 25) which celebrates the exact moment of the Incarnation when the Angel Gabriel told the Blessed Virgin she had been chosen to be the Mother of God, and the Feast of the Assumption (August 15) which recognizes Mary’s entry, body and soul, into heaven. The Magnificat and the Hail Mary are among the most beloved prayers in the Catholic faith.
The boundaries of St. Mary parish are roughly those of the Village of Riverside, although there are registered parishioners who live beyond those boundaries. The median age is about 45. We currently have about 1,400 families. We have approximately 400 students in St. Mary School and about the same number in our Religious Education program. St. Mary is actively involved in the Riverside Covenant of Churches, an ecumenical organization. We have sister parishes, St. Agatha and Our Lady of the Mount, which we support financially and through volunteer programs.