By Will Shaw
On Saturday March 19, 2022, a large crowd gathered at Holy Rosary Parish in Fairmont City, Illinois to celebrate the Eucharist and the 100th Anniversary of the Church’s first Mass which was held on March 19, 1922. Fr. Joseph Pico held that Mass in the living room of the Church rectory with 26 parishioners in attendance.
It was the Diocese of Belleville’s Bishop Henry Althoff who saw the need for a Parish to serve the growing Spanish-speaking community which came to Fairmont City seeking work in area industries. Fr. Pico would have been gratified to see how the parish has grown in the past 100 years.
Bishop Michael McGovern of the Diocese of Belleville was on hand to Celebrate the Mass,, along with the current Pastor, Fr. Harold Fisher, OMI, Associate Pastors, Fr. Jim Fee, OMI, and Fr. Michael Barber, SJ, former Pastor, Msgr. Jim Buerster, and the Provincial of Fr. Fisher’s religious order, Fr. Louis Studer, OMI of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Prior to the beginning of Mass, Bishop McGovern blessed the handsome new doors at the Church entrance, which were a gift to the parish from a parishioner. In his homily, Bishop McGovern congratulated Fr. Fisher and the congregation saying, “You have a rich heritage of faith that has been shared by many families and the people of the wider neighborhood.”
The Missionary Oblates began serving the people of Holy Rosary upon the retirement of Fr. David Wilke in 2019. Oblate Father Harold Fisher was named Pastor after many years working with Spanish-speaking faith communities and in vocations. After Mass, Fr. Studer expressed his admiration for the Parish: “I am very proud that the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are the priests that serve this parish! Each time I have visited here, I have been edified by your love for your parish community…”
After Mass nearly everyone moved to the gymnasium for a celebratory dinner. The gaily-decorated space included music and a theatre-sized screen with a continuing slide-show with photos of parishioners and pastors from the 100 years of the parish. After Bishop McGovern’s Benediction, the attendees chose between a Mexican-inspired buffet or another featuring a traditional fried chicken dinner.
After dinner, the congregation heard greetings and congratulations from Bishop McGovern, as well as from local civic leaders and Fr. Fisher. The close-knit Parish community continued with fellowship before heading home at the end of a very special day in the life of Holy Rosary Parish.