“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?” -Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
A Message From Father Harris:
Welcome to our parish website! First of all, let me tell you a little about our parish. The parish territory is the upper part of Rock Island County in the State of Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi River, extending from East Moline all the way up the river to the County Line. To the North of us is Rockford Diocese; to the West of us across the Mississippi River is the Davenport Diocese. The office and rectory for both Churches is located on the property of St. John’s in Rapids City. There are about 250 families at St. John and 90 families at St. Mary. Currently, St. Mary Catholic Church in Hampton is a mission of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Rapids City. This website will provide you with information about the various liturgical, social, and educational opportunities that our parish offers.
It is my hope that through this website you will see that our parish is an extended and close knit family. It is here that we are born again in Baptism as Children of God. It is here that we learn from fellow family members the way of the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is here that many of our members were married in the sight of God and his Church’s ministers with family and friends as witnesses. The parish is like a mother who gives us consolation and strength in the midst of the inevitable trials and sorrows of life, but also rejoices with us in the triumphs and victories of life. As a family is strengthened and nurtured as its members gather around the family table and hearth, parish members are nurtured at the Holy Altar of the Sacrifice of the Mass as well as the other sacraments; we feel the Lord’s presence through the quiet moments of prayer in our churches and in fellowship with other members in our church meeting halls.
It is also my hope that you will see that we are part of a bigger family and other family circles. Our parish belongs to the larger family of parishes that make up the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, with the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky C.S.C. as the head of our diocesan family. This parish has been clustered with St. Patrick’s in Colona, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Silvis, and St. Anne in East Moline; together with these parishes we support Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy in East Moline. Together with other parishes within the Rock Island County Vicariate we support Alleman Catholic High School in Rock Island. We also maintain good relations with the various Protestant Ecclesial Communities that have affiliated themselves with the Upper Rock Island County Ministerial Association. With this website we hope to enter into dialogue with all people of good will, thus creating opportunities for other people to join our family circle.
Fr. Glenn H. Harris
What We Believe
We the people of St. John the Baptist Parish and St. Mary Parish, in the Diocese of Peoria, are called through Baptism to celebrate the presence of Christ in Word and Sacrament. We are called and sent by Christ to live gratefully the life God has given us and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. In the spirit of faith, service, and community, we strive to bring people closer together and closer to God. This we accomplish by:
Building our lives in the image of Christ through worship and prayer.
Contributing to the growth of our parish by spreading the Gospel by word,witness, action and evangelization.
Inviting everyone to serve, in this way meeting the needs of our parishioners and the broader community.
Being faithful stewards of St. John the Baptist and St. Mary, accountable to God for by responsibly sharing our time, talents and treasures.
Lending support to the parish leadership and working together to fulfill the mission."
It Started with Fr. Alleman
Catholics first gathered as a community under the spiritual leadership of Fr. John G. Alleman in the 1850’s. Fr. Alleman was born on December 3, 1804 in Alsace, France. In 1832, he was preparing to become a priest at the Dominican Priory at St. Rose, Kentucky. He was fluent in German, English, and French, which made him ideal for missionary work in the United States. In June 1834, he received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, but because of numerous problems, he was expelled from the Dominican Order. This did not weaken his desire to follow his vocation as a secular priest; he started his new life in the Diocese of Dubuque. Bishop Loras appointed him pastor in Fort Madison, Iowa. His parish territory would include parts of Western Illinois.
By 1851 Fr. Alleman's responsibilities changed. Rt. Rev. William Quartes, the first Bishop of Chicago, urged Fr. Alleman to dedicate himself to this diocese, and Fr. Alleman selected Rock Island as the center of his apostolate. His project of constructing a new church was taken up with such enthusiasm that he helped build a structure of limestone where St. Mary's church and rectory In Rock Island now stand. This structure was dedicated to St. James, and the cornerstone was laid on August 31, 1851. He soon, with the help of Fr. John P. Donelson, laid a firm foundation for St. Mary's, St. Joseph's, Sacred Heart, and St. Paul's churches. He planted the roots of the Catholic Church in Moline, where in 1857, the first church, a frame structure, was dedicated to St. Anthony. Then following the completion of St. Anthony's; St. Mary's, Sacred Heart, and Holy Trinity churches in Moline; and St. Mary's and St. Anne's churches in East Moline were founded. In the process, Fr. Alleman organized Immaculate Conception Church in Hampton (later known as St. Mary’s), Holy Name in Coal Valley, St. John the Baptist in Rapids City, and St. Patrick's in Edgington. Twice a month he had Sunday Mass at St. Joseph's, and the other Sundays, he celebrated Mass at Nauvoo. In his last seven years of ministry, he established seven mission churches.
Twenty-five years of constant traveling and hard work soon took its toll on Fr. Alleman. He was admitted to St. Vincent's Sanatorium in St. Louis in 1863 - diagnosis was melancholia (depression). However, his breakdown more likely resulted from excessive labor, travel, and heavy responsibilities. While he was very sick and weak, Fr. Alleman received word that he was received back into the Dominican order. He was thrilled and replied: "The special vocation of the Dominicans is teaching and defending the truths of the faith. They preach devotion to the Rosary. I have lived up to these ideals all my life. I was always a Dominican at heart." He died on July 14, 1865, and was buried in Calvary Cemetery in an unmarked grave. He died as he lived, a humble friar intent only on God's work, caring not about a name or record.
The History of Our Parish
Our churches were formally founded as the numbers of Catholics grew: St. Mary in 1865; St. John in 1878. St. John’s was established as a mission of St. Mary, but then as St. John became significantly larger in membership to St. Mary’s, the relationship was then reversed. Our ancestors worked hard to lay the foundation of our parish persevering despite harsh and severe living conditions. Even after the first two churches of St. Mary’s were destroyed by fire, they remained firm in their faith.
Under the guidance of Fr. Richard Moran, a building plan began in the 1950’s. St. Mary Church was the first building constructed in 1953. The current church and rectory at St. John were built in 1972. Fr. John Gaughran became pastor in 1973, and remained pastor for the next 22 years. In 1978, a Church Hall was built at St. Mary. A new parish center at St. John was built in 1991, and in the process tearing down the old church and rectory that had been used as meeting space up to this point.
During Fr. James DeBisshop’s time as pastor from 1995 to 2007, many improvements were made to the buildings at both St. John and St. Mary. In 2000, a multi-function building was built at St. John which currently serves as a storage building. Many renovations to St. Mary Church were made to make it a prayerful and peaceful place; new sanctuary furniture, incorporating elements from the original altar, made by Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s nephew, Fr. L.F. Sheen, gives St. Mary an intimate and inviting feeling to everyone who enters.
Fr. Steve Loftus was pastor from 2007 to 2011. During that period of time several devotions were introduced to the parish, including First Friday Eucharistic Adoration. Since my assignment here at this parish since 2011, my focus has been implementing the “New Evangelization” which includes using the modern tools of technology to further our mission. This Parish Website is part of that effort. I have spent a little bit of time telling you what we have done in the past, but now I would invite you to look at the rest of the website and see what we are currently doing. I pray that this website might show you the way to many blessings.
Fr. Glenn H. Harris