We, the people of Saint Petronille Catholic Parish, strive to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We believe all the teachings of the Catholic Church. We hold the Most Holy Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian Life. We proclaim the inspired Word of God to all God’s children, welcome all those who seek the love of Christ with a sincere heart, and assist all those who come to us in need.
Sunday Mass Schedule
Saturday 5:00 pm
Sunday 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am and 5:00 pm
Weekday Mass Schedule
Monday through Friday 6:15 am
Monday through Saturday 8:00 am
Friday 7:00 am
Saturday 4:00 pm
(During Lent, we also have confessions at 8:30 am on Saturdays and as scheduled. Please also feel free to be in touch with our priests to set a time for individual confession.)
To join the parish or schedule a Baptism, Weddings or Funeral please contact the parish office at 630-469-0404 or email Jessica Payne, Office Manager.
EMERGENCIES: PLEASE DIAL 630-469-0404 AND PRESS ‘1’ WHEN THE PHONE ANSWERS. YOU WILL IMMEDIATELY BE CONNECTED WITH A LIVE HUMAN BEING.
[Editor’s Foreword: What follows is a running chronicle that has been compiled by St. Petronille parishioners at multiple points along the years, most recently in 2021.]
St. Petronille Parish was founded in 1925. The parish is named after St. Petronilla, a martyr of the fourth century. Although she is not mentioned in the very oldest Roman liturgical books, she is seen in a painting of the mid-4th century in the Catacomb of St. Domitilla, where she was buried, and her name appears on lists of the venerated tombs of martyrs in the sixth and seventh centuries. Petronille is the anglicized spelling of her name. During the time of Pope Paul I (757-767), an ancient sarcophagus containing her remains was moved to the Basilica of St Peter. An altar dedicated to her is in the back of the Basilica of St. Peter. To this day, according to the Official Catholic Directory, our parish is the only one in the United States to be placed under the patronage of St. Petronille and to bear her name.
Before its founding, there were 60 Catholic families in Glen Ellyn who traveled by train to Wheaton or Lombard to attend Mass. The formation of the Catholic Women’s Club and Pioneer Men led to three years of an appeal process to the Diocese of Chicago for the approval of a Catholic parish in Glen Ellyn and East Wheaton. Both groups started by showing their commitment to the Diocese by raising funds for such a parish.
The Pioneer Men, to prove to the archbishop their sincere determination and willingness to sacrifice for the establishment and needs of the Parish, formulated the following resolution:
“Whereas the Village of Glen Ellyn has no Catholic Church within its boundaries and the Catholics of Glen Ellyn are put to considerable inconvenience in the practice of the religion and in attaining a Christian education for their children, therefore Be It Resolved that the undersigned Catholics assembled in meeting the second day of November, 1923, hereby agree to use their best efforts to secure the establishment of a Catholic Parish in Glen Ellyn; to purchase ground for a building site for the erection of a Catholic church; to urge those men and women of the Catholic faith residing in Glen Ellyn to co-operate with us and to give their best efforts, time and financial assistance to the success of this undertaking; the establishment of a Catholic Parish in Glen Ellyn…”
Records show that after three years of work, the Catholic Women’s Club gave $1,657 to the first pastor.
By 1925, as the reward for years of repeated petition to the archbishop through monthly and eventually weekly visits made by our Pioneer Men to the Chicago Chancery Office, a favorable decision was made by the archbishop with the following announcement:
“A Parish would be established in Glen Ellyn for all Catholics of the Village and East Wheaton.”
The archbishop appointed Fr. Walter L. Fasnacht as the first pastor of St. Petronille Parish. The families of St. Petronille first began gathering for Mass on the third floor of the Glen Ellyn State Bank building located on the northeast corner of Main Street and Crescent Boulevard. The first Mass was celebrated by Fr. Fasnacht on April 19, 1925, which is marked as the official establishment date of St. Petronille Parish. On May 9, 1925, less than a month after the first Mass, catechetical instruction of children began in the Hawthorne public school.
The capital development plan resulted in the parish being able to purchase a small parcel of land with 325 feet of frontage on Prospect Avenue and 200 feet on Hillside Avenue. This property came with two 70-year-old homes and a large mushroom barn. The two residences were converted into a convent and rectory. The barn was razed to make room for the first parish building: a combined school, church, and hall.
Less than a year after St. Petronille’s first parish Mass was celebrated at the Glen Ellyn Bank Building, the first Mass was celebrated on February 7, 1926 in the partially finished basement and then on April 4, 1926, Mass was finally celebrated on the main floor of the combined new church and school building of St. Petronille Parish. The school opened on the second floor of the building with 126 pupils under the care of the School Sisters of St. Francis. Until 1956, this building served as church, parish hall and parish school. The same building, with the words carved above the entrance “God, Our Country, Education,” exists today as the entrance to the parish school. Also above the entrance doors is the coat of arms of His Eminence George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago, with the words “Dominus Adjutor Meus” translated to “The Lord my helper”.
The School Sisters of St. Francis were the mainstay of the St. Petronille faculty for over 50 years. They vacated the convent in the early 1980’s. During that time, they inspired 17 vocations to the sisterhood and 10 vocations to the priesthood.
More property was purchased in 1927, a 100 x 125 foot lot. In June 1930, Rev. Peter A. Engeln was appointed as the second pastor of St. Petronille.
Fr. Eugene J. Luke was appointed as the third pastor of St. Petronille on June 29, 1941, as America was emerging from the Great Depression and just before the Second World War. Fr. Luke’s pastorate was to extend thirty-two years and he oversaw the tremendous growth of St. Petronille Parish. In celebration of his 25th Jubilee, Fr. Luke purchased and donated to St. Petronille Parish five lots and a residence on Glenwood Avenue. The parish purchased additional lots at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Hillside Avenue, and plans were soon announced for a new rectory, a new convent, and a new church.
By the end of 1948 on the last day of the year, parishioners along with a substantial matching grant from Fr. Luke’s friends, managed to raise enough for the cost of building a new convent and rectory, $120,000.
The Diocese of Joliet was formed in December 1948 to include DuPage, Kendall, Will, Kankakee, Grundy, Ford and Iroquois counties. The greater need of establishing the Diocese of Joliet delayed the capital plans of St. Petronille Parish from building right away.
In conjunction with the Silver Jubilee of the parish, a groundbreaking ceremony of the new convent and rectory took place on April 30, 1950. In December 1951, the two buildings were dedicated by Bishop Martin D. McNamara, the first Bishop of Joliet, assisted by the newly appointed Right Reverend Monsignor Luke. The convent building still stands today as part of St. Petronille School, where the current kindergarten and library exist.
By 1954, a capital project of $640,000 began for a new parish church. The size of the church made it one of the largest in DuPage County and the third largest in the diocese at the time. The Georgian-style church, that still exists today, was completed on November 22, 1956 and holds 700 people with its steeple being the highest point in Glen Ellyn. The design of the building included a large imported, bronze statue of Christ the King, gracing the entrance and high-arched windows engulfing the church in sunlight.
Monsignor Luke continued to build to serve the needs of the parish. In 1963, an addition to the school provided eight classrooms and the Sacred Heart Chapel with seating for 175. At the same time, the basement of the church was finished with a gymnasium and swimming pool.
In June 1973, at age 75, Monsignor Luke became Pastor Emeritus.
In 1973, Fr. William T. Cullen, newly appointed as the fourth pastor of St. Petronille, took on the new challenge of implementing the Second Vatican Council at the parish level. This was not an easy task for anyone; special speakers were invited to illuminate the issues and encourage parishioners in their understanding.
During Fr. Cullen’s tenure, the Vietnam War concluded, and St. Petronille Parish moved towards reconciliation after the controversial war by sponsoring 10 families of Vietnamese refugees to enter the United States. St. Petronille’s leadership became a model for other refugee programs in the country and continues today by providing a home base for many refugee families from many parts of Africa and the Arab-speaking Middle East.
In 1985, the church celebrated its Diamond Jubilee – 60th anniversary.
In 1987, Bishop Joseph Imesch appointed Fr. Arthur Maher as St. Petronille Parish’s fifth pastor. Known for his re-establishment of a Men’s Club and uncanny ability to remember parishioners’ names, Fr. Maher was pastor of St. Petronille Parish for two years before Fr. Paul Wittosch was appointed to administer the parish from October 1989 until his transfer in June 1990. Fr. Maher, universally and affectionately referred to as Fr. Art, returned to St. Petronille to spend his retirement years in residence, beginning in 2015 until his death in 2021.
Fr. Michael O’Keefe was appointed as the St. Petronille Parish’s sixth pastor in June 1990. Fr. O’Keefe initiated annual parish gatherings such as the St. Joseph’s Day Table and a renewed annual parish picnic. He also nourished many parish ministries, most notably Christian Service and Youth Ministry, and he was a strong advocate for the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). During the 1990’s, these ministries strengthened their roots. The Youth Ministry began summer trips to work in a poor community in Kentucky continuing today with summer trips to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. With parish support, the Christian Service Commission set up two transitional housing units with parishioners acting as mentors for troubled families. Additional support was provided for community-wide efforts such as the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry and PADS, Adopt-a-Family at Christmas time and other ministries for distressed families. These efforts all continue today.
In 1995, our parish welcomed the return of Fr. John Sullivan in his retirement years. Father Sullivan continued to serve the parish actively even as he transitioned to senior status, and he remains in residence to the present day. A native of Glen Ellyn, Fr. Sullivan graduated from St. Petronille School in 1942.
In 1993, parishioners identified the need to adopt a comprehensive plan to update the existing facilities. Building the Faith for Tomorrow (BFFT) project became a vehicle through which parishioners channeled their efforts to preserve the gifts of the past, accommodate the needs of the present, and provide opportunities for the future. The parish responded by pledging $5.5 million dollars to the project between 1994 and 2000.
As a result, in 1999, the narthex of the church was renovated with a new entrance and accessible washrooms. The school complex, including what had been the convent was updated with completely new systems, reconfigured and modernized classrooms and amenities.
In 2000, the St. Petronille Parish celebrated her Platinum Jubilee – 75th anniversary. And in 2001, the old rectory, contiguous to the church building, was razed to make way for construction of a new Parish Life Center.
In 2002, Fr. James Dougherty was appointed as the seventh pastor of St. Petronille Parish and completed the project of the Parish Life Center addition in 2004.
The Parish Life Center provided a space for key ministries of St. Petronille Parish, such as the Music Ministry, RCIA program, and Youth Ministry. In addition, the Parish Life Center provides both large and small gathering spaces immediately adjacent to the church. With a connected kitchen, it serves all types of functions and community outreach programs.
In 2013, a groundbreaking ceremony took place for a much-needed, new rectory on Prospect Avenue. The new rectory, containing complete living quarters for as many as four priests, was completed by February 2015.
Since its very inception, the founders of St. Petronille Parish believed in having a school where the children could be educated in the Catholic faith. Teaching and reinforcing disciplined Catholic beliefs and values has been a hallmark of the parish since carving “God, Our Country, Education” above the original building. Together the parish school and Religious Education program currently impart these values and beliefs to about 800 children.
Today St. Petronille School provides a quality education environment for almost 500 students, pre-kindergarten (added in 2021) through 8th grade. Catholic beliefs are integrated with current education practices, supported with an up-to-date technology infrastructure. Students are provided the opportunity to develop to their full personal, spiritual, intellectual, physical, social, and emotional potential. St. Petronille School’s program is accredited by the Diocese of Joliet and the Illinois State Board of Education and guarantees that no student shall be denied admission solely on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin.
The current pastor, Fr. Thomas Milota, was appointed in 2019 as the eighth pastor of St. Petronille. He served during the 2020 global pandemic, which led to the temporary closure of Catholic churches by the end of March 2020 across the globe. St. Petronille quickly switched gears to offer daily and weekly live-streamed Masses via the internet within a week of the suspension of in person liturgical celebrations. On June 6, 2020, churches were finally permitted by the state and the diocese to celebrate Mass in person with restricted capacity and subject to stringent cleaning protocols and other safety measures. It wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that churches in the state of Illinois were able to finally open their doors to normal capacity Mass attendance.
In July 2021, the original arched windows in the church were replaced after a generous, anonymous donation.