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History of Transfiguration

Wauconda, Illinois U.S.A.

1600s
In 1608, Roman Catholicism came to the northern part of our continent.  Some time after that, in the seventeenth century, the diocese of Quebec was established.  The area which now comprises our beloved parish, Transfiguration, was included in that diocese.  It remained there until 1805, when Baltimore became a diocese of the United States.  As the Church grew, there was a rapid increase in the number of dioceses.  This area became in succession, part of Bardstown, Kentucky, Cincinnati; St. Louis; Vincennes; and finally, Chicago.  

1841
It was while we were part of the Vincennes diocese that Transfiguration came into being.  In June of 1841, the brothers, John and Michael Murray, invited a missionary to visit them.  Pere Jean Gueguen answered their call, said Mass for them, and agreed to come regularly if they built a chapel.  Accordingly, a log chapel was built in the Murray Settlement on the property donated by the Murrays, the present site of Transfiguration Cemetery.

1845
When the diocese of Chicago was established in 1845 under the leadership of Bishop Quarter, Bishop Hailandiere, of Vincennes, withdrew his priests back to his own diocese, since he needed them there.  The log chapel in Murray’s settlement, know as St. John’s Mission, served the Catholic people of this area for some years.  For several years there were only two priests, Bishop Quarter and his brother.  When Bishop Quarter did finally get priests, one named Fr. John Hampston, cared for Murray Settlement.  The WESTERN TABLET of March 13, 1852 stated: “In Murray’s Settlement, there is a very handsome frame church with a new altar, which has been tastefully decorated by the ladies.  The congregation here is too large for the church.”

1860
In the 1860’s Murray’s Settlement was cared for by priests from Donneley’s Settlement (St. Patrick’s Church in Hartland).  In 1876, the area became a regular mission of St. Patrick’s Church.  Mass was celebrated every other Sunday by Rev. Patrick O’Neill.  Under his leadership, the congregation purchased land on the western edge of the newly established town of Wauconda.  This land was purchased from Justus Bangs.  On the property, they build a white frame church (This church still stands, used as a meeting hall, on the parish property on Church St.)  Fr. O’Neill continued to care for the Catholics of Wauconda for the next 27 years.  On August 6, 1877, Bishop Foley of Chicago blessed and dedicated the church, and re-named it in honor of the feast – “Transfiguration.”

1903
In 1903, Transfiguration Parish was formally established with the appointment of Rev. Stephen Woulfe as resident pastor.  He constructed a frame rectory at 213 S. Church St.

1910
In 1910, Fr. Woulfe was transferred.  Ft. Thomas D. Burke was the new pastor until December, 1911.  Fr. Thomas J. Murphy served as pastor of Transfiguration from 1912 to 1921.  His successor, Rev. Edward P. Gahagan, came to Transfiguration in Mar, 1921.       

1940
Rev. John H. Mulligan was assigned to Transfiguration Church as an administrator.  Following Fr. Gahagan’s death on June 3, 1943, Fr. Mulligan was named pastor.  The Altar and Rosary Society was established by Fr. Mulligan in 1940.  A Holy Name Society was started a t the same time.  

1948-1950
Transfiguration School was started in a two-story frame building at 310 W. Mill St.  The structure consisted of two classrooms on the first floor, and the Franciscan Sisters’ Convent, including a small chapel, was on the second floor.  In 1949, a third classroom was opened in the basement of this building.  On April 2, 1950, ground was broken for a new brick school, containing four classrooms and a gymnasium.  It was in these early years of the school that the Parents’ Club was organized.  That subsequently became a Mothers’ Club.  Today, it is again a Parents’ Club.

1951-1989
Between 1951 and 1954, enrollment in Transfiguration school increased from 164 to 274 students.  Temporary classrooms were set up in the gymnasium to accommodate the overflow.  Ground at 315 W. Mill St. was broken on September 26, 1954 and Mass was celebrated in the new quarters on July 10, 1955.  Cardinal Stritch dedicated the combination of new classrooms and church on November 29, 1955.  Fr. Thomas McMahon was named Transfiguration Parish administrator on November 9, 1955 and pastor on July 7, 1956.  Under his leadership, plans for another school addition were drawn up.  Work was then underway on a four classroom school addition which was subsequently dedicated on May 1, 1960.  Enrollment in Transfiguration peaked at 564 children in 1964.   

During Fr. McMahon’s pastorate, all the land bounded by Liberty St., Church St., and Mill St. was acquired.  

On August 8, 1963, Fr. McMahon was transferred, and Rev. Msgr. Thomas J. Fitzgerald was named pastor of Transfiguration Church.  Msgr. Fitzgerald inaugurated the Parish Council and the Transfiguration Parish School Board.

In February, 1968, Msgr. Fitzgerald left and Rev. John L. Cashman served as pastor of Transfiguration until April, 1970.   

The new pastor was Rev. Thomas J. Curley, who was to remain until 1973 when Fr. Charles O’Brien was named interim pastor until June 23, 1976.  Rev. Byron G. Maher was named pastor on August 4, 1976 and held the post until his retirement on June 30, 1990.    A parishioner named Charles Krupp passed away and left $700,000 for the erection of a new church.  The parish had a pledge drive to make up the remaining deficit and the church was built.  It was dedicated, by His eminence Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, on May 5, 1985.

1990

On August 5, 1990, Fr. William Zavaski was installed as pastor.  The associate pastor, Fr. James Ray, came to Transfiguration in 1989.

One young man from this parish was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1975.  He is the Reverend John G. Johnson, son of Gordon and the late Louise Johnson and brother of Barbara Ford and Monica Johnson.  Fr. Johnson was born in 1949 and grew up in Williams Park.  He attended Transfiguration School until 1962, when he entered the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.  That institution granted him a Bachelor’s Degree summa cum laude in Philosophy and American Studies in 1970 and a Master’s Degree in Theology in 1974.  He received his Doctorate in Canon Law in 1986 from the Catholic University of America. 

Since his ordination on June 1, 1974, he has served on the Diocesan Tribunal in Columbus, including a term as chief Judge and many years as a Judge on the Appellate Court for the Province of Ohio and Washington, D.C.  He is a member of the Canon Law Society of America, the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Studia Canonica.  He has taught Canon Law at the Josephinum and in his diocesan Deacon School.  Fr. John is currently pastor of St. Philip, the Apostle parish in Columbus, Ohio, and Special promoter of Justice for Criminal Affairs for the diocese of Columbus.  

History of Transfiguration

Wauconda, Illinois U.S.A.

1600s
In 1608, Roman Catholicism came to the northern part of our continent.  Some time after that, in the seventeenth century, the diocese of Quebec was established.  The area which now comprises our beloved parish, Transfiguration, was included in that diocese.  It remained there until 1805, when Baltimore became a diocese of the United States.  As the Church grew, there was a rapid increase in the number of dioceses.  This area became in succession, part of Bardstown, Kentucky, Cincinnati; St. Louis; Vincennes; and finally, Chicago.  

1841
It was while we were part of the Vincennes diocese that Transfiguration came into being.  In June of 1841, the brothers, John and Michael Murray, invited a missionary to visit them.  Pere Jean Gueguen answered their call, said Mass for them, and agreed to come regularly if they built a chapel.  Accordingly, a log chapel was built in the Murray Settlement on the property donated by the Murrays, the present site of Transfiguration Cemetery.

1845
When the diocese of Chicago was established in 1845 under the leadership of Bishop Quarter, Bishop Hailandiere, of Vincennes, withdrew his priests back to his own diocese, since he needed them there.  The log chapel in Murray’s settlement, know as St. John’s Mission, served the Catholic people of this area for some years.  For several years there were only two priests, Bishop Quarter and his brother.  When Bishop Quarter did finally get priests, one named Fr. John Hampston, cared for Murray Settlement.  The WESTERN TABLET of March 13, 1852 stated: “In Murray’s Settlement, there is a very handsome frame church with a new altar, which has been tastefully decorated by the ladies.  The congregation here is too large for the church.”

1860
In the 1860’s Murray’s Settlement was cared for by priests from Donneley’s Settlement (St. Patrick’s Church in Hartland).  In 1876, the area became a regular mission of St. Patrick’s Church.  Mass was celebrated every other Sunday by Rev. Patrick O’Neill.  Under his leadership, the congregation purchased land on the western edge of the newly established town of Wauconda.  This land was purchased from Justus Bangs.  On the property, they build a white frame church (This church still stands, used as a meeting hall, on the parish property on Church St.)  Fr. O’Neill continued to care for the Catholics of Wauconda for the next 27 years.  On August 6, 1877, Bishop Foley of Chicago blessed and dedicated the church, and re-named it in honor of the feast – “Transfiguration.”

1903
In 1903, Transfiguration Parish was formally established with the appointment of Rev. Stephen Woulfe as resident pastor.  He constructed a frame rectory at 213 S. Church St.

1910
In 1910, Fr. Woulfe was transferred.  Ft. Thomas D. Burke was the new pastor until December, 1911.  Fr. Thomas J. Murphy served as pastor of Transfiguration from 1912 to 1921.  His successor, Rev. Edward P. Gahagan, came to Transfiguration in Mar, 1921.       

1940
Rev. John H. Mulligan was assigned to Transfiguration Church as an administrator.  Following Fr. Gahagan’s death on June 3, 1943, Fr. Mulligan was named pastor.  The Altar and Rosary Society was established by Fr. Mulligan in 1940.  A Holy Name Society was started a t the same time.  

1948-1950
Transfiguration School was started in a two-story frame building at 310 W. Mill St.  The structure consisted of two classrooms on the first floor, and the Franciscan Sisters’ Convent, including a small chapel, was on the second floor.  In 1949, a third classroom was opened in the basement of this building.  On April 2, 1950, ground was broken for a new brick school, containing four classrooms and a gymnasium.  It was in these early years of the school that the Parents’ Club was organized.  That subsequently became a Mothers’ Club.  Today, it is again a Parents’ Club.

1951-1989
Between 1951 and 1954, enrollment in Transfiguration school increased from 164 to 274 students.  Temporary classrooms were set up in the gymnasium to accommodate the overflow.  Ground at 315 W. Mill St. was broken on September 26, 1954 and Mass was celebrated in the new quarters on July 10, 1955.  Cardinal Stritch dedicated the combination of new classrooms and church on November 29, 1955.  Fr. Thomas McMahon was named Transfiguration Parish administrator on November 9, 1955 and pastor on July 7, 1956.  Under his leadership, plans for another school addition were drawn up.  Work was then underway on a four classroom school addition which was subsequently dedicated on May 1, 1960.  Enrollment in Transfiguration peaked at 564 children in 1964.   

During Fr. McMahon’s pastorate, all the land bounded by Liberty St., Church St., and Mill St. was acquired.  

On August 8, 1963, Fr. McMahon was transferred, and Rev. Msgr. Thomas J. Fitzgerald was named pastor of Transfiguration Church.  Msgr. Fitzgerald inaugurated the Parish Council and the Transfiguration Parish School Board.

In February, 1968, Msgr. Fitzgerald left and Rev. John L. Cashman served as pastor of Transfiguration until April, 1970.   

The new pastor was Rev. Thomas J. Curley, who was to remain until 1973 when Fr. Charles O’Brien was named interim pastor until June 23, 1976.  Rev. Byron G. Maher was named pastor on August 4, 1976 and held the post until his retirement on June 30, 1990.    A parishioner named Charles Krupp passed away and left $700,000 for the erection of a new church.  The parish had a pledge drive to make up the remaining deficit and the church was built.  It was dedicated, by His eminence Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, on May 5, 1985.

1990

On August 5, 1990, Fr. William Zavaski was installed as pastor.  The associate pastor, Fr. James Ray, came to Transfiguration in 1989.

One young man from this parish was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1975.  He is the Reverend John G. Johnson, son of Gordon and the late Louise Johnson and brother of Barbara Ford and Monica Johnson.  Fr. Johnson was born in 1949 and grew up in Williams Park.  He attended Transfiguration School until 1962, when he entered the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.  That institution granted him a Bachelor’s Degree summa cum laude in Philosophy and American Studies in 1970 and a Master’s Degree in Theology in 1974.  He received his Doctorate in Canon Law in 1986 from the Catholic University of America. 

Since his ordination on June 1, 1974, he has served on the Diocesan Tribunal in Columbus, including a term as chief Judge and many years as a Judge on the Appellate Court for the Province of Ohio and Washington, D.C.  He is a member of the Canon Law Society of America, the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Studia Canonica.  He has taught Canon Law at the Josephinum and in his diocesan Deacon School.  Fr. John is currently pastor of St. Philip, the Apostle parish in Columbus, Ohio, and Special promoter of Justice for Criminal Affairs for the diocese of Columbus.  

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