About St. Margaret Mary Parish

Saint Margaret Mary Catholic Church and Parish is located in the southeastern part of McHenry County Illinois. It is a Franciscan parish served by friars from St. Anthony of Padua and B. James of Strepa Province in Krakow, Poland. It is located within the Rockford Illinois Diocese on the Fox River and is in a collar county of Chicago. The Parish has approximately 3,500 registered families with a Catholic Elementary School from preschool 3 years old until 8th grade and is served by Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock. It has a strong Religious Education Program for children attending public schools from age 3 to grade 5; a Junior High Youth Ministry Program which includes Religious Education Faith Groups, Retreats, Socials, Service Projects and lots of Fun; and a High School Youth Ministry Program which includes Religious Education Growth Groups, Retreats, Socials, Youth Masses, Large Group Speakers, Service Projects, Interaction with Neighboring Youth Groups. Finally it also has a Young Adult Group and Adult Enrichment Programs.

“If you are looking for a parish which will support your faith and offer you the opportunity to grow in your relationship to God through prayer, worship and the service of others, you will find it here at Saint Margaret Mary.”

Within the Parish, there is also a Polish Community which celebrates two weekly Masses and offers the Sacraments in the Polish Language. In addition, there is a Filipino Community which celebrates devotions and the Simbang Gabi Christmas Celebrations.

Throughout the year, all our ethnic groups come together for multi-lingual masses and celebrations.

Our Parish Family

We are a Franciscan Parish located within Diocese of Rockford. The Diocese of Rockford continues to the Wisconsin border to our North, South to the Peoria Diocese, East to the Dioceses of Chicago and Joliet, and West to the Mississippi River. Saint Margaret Mary is a growing community which includes parts of Algonquin, parts of Lake in the Hills, and parts of Barrington Hills. We are a Stewardship Parish who believe that belonging to a Parish Family involves more than just attending Mass. God blesses us and gives us our Time, our Talents and our Treasure. Our Parish prides itself on being a “giving” parish. In thanksgiving of all that God has given to us, each parishioner is asked to share a portion of their gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure for the growth and development of God’s Kingdom. The many ministries of our Parish Family, as well as the contributions of treasure allow the parish to do the work of God both within and outside the parish boundaries. This “giving of ourselves” makes us a Stewardship Parish. If you are interested in giving of yourself at this time, please visit our Ministries page.

Parish Campus Map

Our Parish Campus consists of many different buildings and facilities designed to serve the needs of the faithful at St. Margaret Mary. Our Church and Parish Offices (which include our Business and Liturgical Offices) run from the west along Algonquin Rd. to our Ministry Center, which includes McDonnell Hall, and then our Parish School bounded by Eastgate Dr. on the east side of our campus. In between we have our Friary (Priest’s Residence), our Walking Together Resale Shop, McGivney Hall (Knights of Columbus Building and Parish Storage). There is also a playground and athletic fields south of the school. Please click below for a PDF of our full Parish Campus Map.

Our Parish Boundaries

The established boundaries for our Parish are as follows:
West of the McHenry/Cook County line,
East of Randall Road,
North of Bolz-Longmeadow Road,
South of Miller Road in Lake in the Hills.

If you live within this area, you are part of our Saint Margaret Mary Catholic Parish Family. If so, please register by stopping in the Parish Office during regular hours to complete the necessary registration forms and receive general information about the parish and its activities. Our staff is always available to help you in any need.

About Our Patroness

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin (1690)

Feast Day: October 16th

She was born in 1647. Her father died of pneumonia when Margaret was about eight. His death allowed her father’s relatives to move in and take over the direction of the farm and household. The relatives regulated all her and her mother’s comings and goings making them prisoners in their own home. Margaret Mary would spend much of her time outdoors to escape. There she spent her time in prayer, fasting and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

Margaret’s mom had hoped she would marry, but at the age of twenty, inspired by a vision, she put aside all such thoughts.  At twenty-two she made her profession at the convent of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial.

Margaret Mary began to have revelations from Christ showing His Sacred Heart on fire with love for his people. The first of these occurred on December 27, 1673. The Lord told her that the love of His heart must spread and manifest itself to men, and He would reveal its graces through her. The Sacred Heart is the symbol of that boundless love which moved the Word to take flesh and offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. This was the beginning of a series of revelations covering a period of eighteen months.

For many years no one believed Margaret Mary and she suffered from despair and also from the slights and contempt of those around her.  In 1683, opposition in the community ended after an account of Margaret Mary’s visions was read aloud from the writings left by Father Claude, who had taken it upon himself to make known to the world the nun’s remarkable experiences.  The devotion to the Sacred Heart is celebrated on the Friday after the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ in June.

At forty-three Margaret Mary died on October 17,1690. As she received the Last Sacraments,she said, “I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus.”  Margaret Mary was canonized a saint in 1920 and her feast day is observed on October 16th.

Our Sanctuary: The Meaning of the Cross of San Damiano

St. Margaret Mary is blessed to have a replica of the famed Cross of San Damiano hanging within our sanctuary (pictured at right). Have you every wondered what all of the images mean and the significance of the cross itself? The original cross was fashioned around the year 1100 and hangs in Santa Chiara Church in Assisi. When in 1257, the Poor Clares moved to Sanata Chiara, they took the original San Damiano Cross with them and still guard it with great reverence.

Our Sanctuary: The Meaning of  the Stained Glass and Statuary

Our windows at St. Margaret Mary are the design of the Crosby Willet Studios of Philadelphia.  This internationally renowned firm was founded in 1898.  It came into worldwide prominence in 1910 when the Willet Studios won a special international competition for the design and installation of windows at the West Point Military Academy Chapel. Twenty-six studios entered the competition, including the studio of Louis B. Tiffiny of New York.  Willet was the winner and or the next 66 years installed two window sections a year.   Some of Willet’s more well known installations include the College Chapels of Princeton, Ohio State, and Northwestern University.  Moreover, they include the window in the National Cathedral, the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.; St. John the Divine Cathedral, and the former chapel of the United Nations Building, New Your City; Grace Episcopal Cathedral, and St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, San Francisco.

The History of St. Margaret Mary Parish

Saint Margaret Mary Parish in Algonquin is one of the oldest settlements along the Fox River in McHenry County, with missionaries conducting Catholic services as early as 1845. Father Joseph M. Lonergan, founder of several parishes, including SS. Peter and Paul at Cary, organized Saint Margaret Mary Parish in 1915. The faith community inquired about property to build a church and Father bought the land along the banks of the Fox River just below the dam by the creek (Harrison between Water) from Mrs. F. J. Kelahan in 1914 for a nominal price. The Church was a “Greek Revival” edifice build of brick. The cornerstone was laid on July 11, 1915. Nearly three thousand people attended ceremony, of whom about one-half were Chicago friends and patrons of the Parish. The Bohemian Catholic Societies, Knights of Columbus and the Ladies’ Auxiliaries had charge of the celebration. The Solemn Dedication took place on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1915, by Rt. Reverend Peter J. Muldoon, D.D., Bishop of Rockford. The mission had twenty six families. Our First Church (1915)

In the 1940’s, the parish was expanded by the creation of such subdivisions as Lake in the Hills, Haeger’s Bend, Riverview, Camp Algonquin, Algonquin Shores, and others. In June of 1954, Bishop Raymond P. Hillinger appointed Father Raymond N. Eipers as the first resident pastor in Algonquin, and on July 6, 1954 the corporation name was changed to Saint Margaret Church of Algonquin. One of Father Eipers’ first decisions as pastor was the purchase of a building for use as a rectory. The first rectory was located at 213 La Fox River Drive. The small mission Church built in 1915 had long been inadequate in size, and Father Eipers was authorized in 1955 to purchase a 10-acre plot for a future parish center. The land, located on Algonquin Road and Hubbard Street, one block east of the river, was to be the site of a combination School and Church building and the original farm house was renovated for use as a convent, with a total parish expenditure of $159,000.00.

With the Dominican Sisters of Springfield in charge, the school opened in September 1955, with 130 pupils in its first four grades and Sister Mary Estelle as the Principal. One grade was added each year so that by 1957 the enrollment for six grades was over 200 students and three Dominican Sister of Springfield and one lay teacher comprised the staff of the school. The old mission church was abandoned as a church and the congregation moved for a short time into the upper level of the Church/School building and then into the lower level (now known as McDonnell Hall)  on March 9, 1958.  The old mission church was converted into four additional classrooms, and was used by the parish during the 1960’s.

In 1969, Father Joseph J. Reikas was appointed the fourth pastor, and the school entered into share time instruction with the public district. Middle school students would travel to Algonquin Middle School for half-day sessions five times a week for courses in mathematics, earth science, history, industrial arts or home economics and physical education.  That shared time instruction continued until 1983.  The first of the Annual Parish Dinner Dances was held in 1976 as the country celebrated its bicentennial.

Father P. William McDonnell (now Monsignor)  was named pastor on January 28, 1979, and remained for a full term of 12 years.  Through the leadership of Father McDonnell, the parish began to grow in numbers and spirit. But the parish was quickly growing out of the Church, still located in the basement of the present Ministry Center. On August 28,1983, Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill, Bishop of Rockford, dedicated and blessed the new Church, Chapel, Parish Offices and Meeting Room facilities. Though the cost of the building was $1,650,000, the parish was able to pay off the costs completely within a 10-year period.

In the summer of 1985, Father McDonnell led a pilgrimage of parishioners and others to the Holy Land and Rome.  As they were returning, TWA Flight #847 was hijacked from the Athens Airport and forced to land in Beruit.  Some of pilgrims including Father McDonnell and the women, were released.  Fathers Thomas Dempsey and James McLoughlin remained hostages along with many members of the parish.  The experience for the parish was both a frightening one and a spiritual one, and showed the world the strength and faith of our parish community.

In early 1993, Father Michael Tierney (now Monsignor), was named pastor.  He led the parish for 18 years, the longest tenure of any pastor to date. In the late 1990’s he began to identify a growing and strong Filipino Community within the parish, and four Filipino associates have served at Saint Margaret Mary. Also during this time, he identified a group of people of Polish descent who wished to celebrate Mass as a community, and to have Sacraments and devotions in the Polish language.  Although they lived in the northwest suburban area, they continued to drive into the City of Chicago to go to Mass. The Divine Word Society, a Community of Priests and Brothers in Techny, Illinois came to the parish to assist with the Polish Community.  This community has grown to over 1,000 Polish families, and we now also have a Polish cultural school that teaches the children of these families both Religious Education and the history, culture, language, and geography of the Polish People and Nation.

In 2002, it became clear that the growth of the parish and its children and ministries required another increase in our parish physical plant. At that time the local public school district was looking to move the local grade school and indicated they would be interested in accepting Fr. Tierney’s offer to buy the Eastview school building and property. This purchase doubled the number of classes in our Catholic Elementary School and provided additional space for the Religious Education and Youth Ministry programs, as well as for meeting space for our many Parish ministries.  The purchase price was $3,400,000, but it would have been much more had we not received an additional blessing in the gift of construction and remodeling from an anonymous donor through a Catholic Foundation. The Catholic Elementary School, the Elementary religious educations programs, and the Polish school all moved into the new Education Center just after Labor Day 2003.

In 2011, the Parish began a new phase in its spiritual journey when the Diocese entered into an agreement with the Conventual Franciscans to establish a Friory with missionary priests based out of Krakow Poland. On July 1 of that year, Father Peter Sarnicki  became our 12th pastor.

Starting in 2014 the Parish began a year long celebration of it’s founding as a Parish, culminating in a jubilee mass celebrated by Bishop David Malloy and attended by past and present priests and deacons. Also during that year the sanctuary received a major makeover with a white and rose marble floor and back wall highlighting a new San Damiano cross.

In the summer of 2020, at the height of the global COVID pandemic, Fr. Witold Adamczyk took over the stewardship of the flock and served until summer 2022 when both he and Fr. Sarnicki answered their missionary call to move to the Diocese of Peoria, and on August 1, 2022 Fr. Zbigniew Zajchowski, OFM Conv. became Parochial Administrator. He and his Friars now lead a flock of over 11,000 members of our parish, which is approximately 3,500 registered families.