Catholics Held Meetings Here As Early As 1838
Rushville had a small Catholic group, numbering eight families, as early as 1838, a fact that is certified by the reports of missionary priests coming from St. Louis, Mo. Previous to the year 1844, the western part of Illinois was included in the jurisdiction of the bishop of St. Louis, and many prominent priests visited Rushville in that early period. Of these may be mentioned Father Peter Paul Lefevere, later bishop of Detroit, Mich., who referred to Rushville as a possible outmission of the old ghost parish, Fountain Green. This was in 1836, so even as early as 1836 there must have been several Catholic families in or near Rushville. Father Felix Van Quickenborne, a pioneer Jesuit missionary, and Father George A. Hamilton, Sr., a relative of Archbishop J. L. Spaulding's forebears, visited Rushville in the 1830's.
Springfield was a mission center as early as 1839. Father Hamilton ranged over the surrounding country, the heart of the present Springfield diocese in Illinois. The first Catholic church in Mt. Sterling was erected in 1849, and for many years thereafter was the base of missionary visitations to all the Catholic settlements of Brown county. Rushville was one of the early dependencies of Mt. Sterling. The Catholic directory of 1854 states that Father William Feeley, pastor of the Catholic church at Mt. Sterling, occasionally visited Rushville and Bath, in the Chicago diocese.
The Peoria diocese was erected in 1875, and Schuyler county was included in the jurisdiction of the bishop of Peoria. The first bishop, Most Reverend J. L. Spaulding, came to Peoria in May, 1877.
The late date of 1870, at which the first Catholic church, St. Rose, was built in Rushville, is easily explained by the fact that in pioneer days priests were permitted to celebrate Mass in the homes of their parishioners, or in public buildings rented or leased for this purpose. Today this concession is granted only in grave emergencies.
St. Rose Catholic church, which is located on West Adams street in Rushville, does not have a resident priest, but regular services are held each Sunday morning by the church pastor, Rev. Father Gordon of Bushnell.
The Rushville Times, October 7, 1948
The Rushville Times used by permission.
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