Welcome to St. Joseph Parish, Manteno
A BRIEF HISTORY
In the year 1855 the mission of St. Joseph, Manteno was established. The small mission was cared for by priests from Maternity BVM Church, Bourbonnais. The very first to say Mass for the people of the small community of Manteno was Father Cartuyvles. Others in those early pioneer days were Father Lapointe, Ginoras and Paradis. It was Father Paradis that was responsible for the erection of the first chapel in the north east part of the town in 1862. Every third Sunday Father Paradis would make the trip from St. George to Manteno to offer Mass for the congregation at Manteno.
Under the direction of Father George Kerston the first permanent church was built in 1872 at a cost of $14,000. The first marriage and baptism were celebrated in the church on July 2, 1885. Things were going rather smoothly under the pastorates of Father Goulet, Mevel and Bergeron. then on the evening of July 31, 1898, when Father Chouinard was pastor, a devastating fire destroyed the church.
Father Boudreau took on the task of rebuilding the church where the parishioners could again come together for worship. In 1899 stones were brought all the way from Momence by horse drawn carts, not only by the parishioners, but by friendly neighbors for the community. In the same year construction of Our Lady Academy began.
On May 18, 1905 the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary would begin planning to open Our Lady Academy. September of 1905 was the day the doors opened for the first class to call it home with 215 students. The school was run by Mother Mathilde and Mother Marie Eustelle along with Sister Mary of Jesus (Gagnon), Sister John Baptist of Ireland, Sister Alexis of France, Sister Melanie (the first to enter the American novitiate from Bourbonnais) and Sister Ambrosia. The school closed in 1968 under the pastoral administration of Father Hoffman.
In 1977 Father Donald Pock would become pastor and his name will always be associated with the renovation of the church in 1982. The exterior stone was cleaned, the three bells were removed from the tower and sent away for reconditioning and put back into use. The entire interior was also redone. The church was rededicated on October 5, 1983.
In the year 2000, under the leadership of Father Edward Grotovsky a Religious Education Building was built containing 12 classrooms. The building houses around 300 students and is used for some adult education classes and other parish meetings. In the years to follow there would be construction of a wall in the sanctuary and new statues of Mary and Joseph, along with a votive candle rack and a new crucifix were added to the interior. In spring 2005 construction on the new front entrance and elevator were completed. Currently there is construction under way to repair the bell tower.