History of Parish

We hope you will enjoy this short video presenting the history of St. Emily Parish.

St. Emily Parish has its origin in the spring of 1960, when Father John McLoraine, associate pastor at St. John Berchman’s Church in Logan Square was appointed by Albert Cardinal Meyer to organize a new parish in the vicinity of Wolf and Central Roads. The area was then part of unincorporated Cook County, later incorporated into the village of Mount Prospect.
Winter_Roof of the church

The first parishioners of this newly formed parish belonged to either St. Raymond de Penafort in Mt. Prospect or St. Mary Church in Des Plaines. In June 1960, Father McLoraine celebrated the first Mass for St. Emily Parish, named after his own mother, in the gymnasium at Maryville Academy, located near River and Central Roads in Des Plaines.

In March 1961, ground was broken for a new school. Six months later, members of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth opened the parish school for first through fifth grades. Six classrooms in the new brick building were converted into a contemporary church and Mass was celebrated at this location. Within less than two years, the parish had increased in membership from 900 to more than 1300 families.

As the school enrollment increased, the need for more classroom space became evident. The classrooms that had been converted to a temporary church were returned to their original use and by the spring of 1964 construction began on the gymnasium. This would serve as a church space until the parish debt was paid off. As the number of parishioners grew, more space was needed for worship. Additional Masses were celebrated in the basement of the school and at Euclid School. For a period of time there were twelve Sunday Masses being celebrated in three different locations.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the permanent church began in November 1969. Father McLoraine oversaw every detail of construction, which took less than two years to complete. The brown brick, decorative stone and metal exterior were complemented by an interior of slate, marble and matched wall panels of rare black walnut.

Because of the circular configuration of the building, the installation of the interior panels was a feat in itself. Each wall panel was matched and numbered for a specific location in the church according to color and grain. The choir area, behind the sanctuary, required sixteen foot walnut panels, made too look like one solid piece, but which were actually two panels matched end-to-end. The solid red oak pews were arranged in eight sections around the raised sanctuary, which is equi-distance from any wall in the church. Fourteen stained glass windows, depicting lighted candles, were set in place to line the back interior walls, along with the carved wooden Stations of the Cross.

Sanctuary CrucifixThe original church plans called for a crucifix to be suspended from the concave dome above the altar. The project was put on hold until, in 1996, the long awaited crucifix, designed by Jerzy Kenar, was installed. The cross was carved from black walnut to match the church’s architectural paneling and the corpus was carved from a solid block of linden wood. There is a space between the corpus and the cross to symbolize the transition from Crucifixion to Resurrection.

Over fifty years have come and gone since that very first spring of 1960. St. Emily Parish is a thriving, spirit-filled community today, thanks be to God and all those who have made St. Emily Parish their home. May God be pleased with our effort.