The History of St. Agnes Parish

St. Agnes ParishSt. Agnes Parish was established by Bishop James Ryan on October 1, 1888. It was the fifth Catholic parish in Springfield, at that time a city of some 33,000 people. The new parish was to serve the area south of Carpenter Street and west of the main line of the Chicago and Alton Railroad and contained 180 families.

The cornerstone of the first church was blessed August 25, 1889, almost exactly 100 years before the blessing of the cornerstone of our present church, held on August 27, 1989. The first Mass in the original church was celebrated by Father James Howard on May 4, 1890. Father Howard served as pastor for some 42 years, until his death on June 16, 1930. By that time, the parish had grown to 400 families.

The first school was built in 1897 and was staffed by the Springfield Dominican Sisters. This began a relationship between the Dominican Sisters and our parish that has continued to the present day. A new school was built in 1913 at a cost of $54,000. This building served the parish until the present school building opened in the fall of 1981.

Father William Costello was appointed the second pastor of St. Agnes and served until his death in 1942. He was succeeded by Monsignor Amos E. Giusti who was appointed the parish’s third pastor on April 21, 1942. He remained at our parish for many years and celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 1963. He retired as pastor in 1968 and died December 12, 1970.

Father Robert McCarthy was appointed pastor following Monsignor Giusti's retirement, but resigned shortly thereafter due to poor health. He was followed by Father James Casey who served as pastor until his death on September 26, 1975.

Our next pastor was Monsignor John McGrath. As a newly ordained priest, Monsignor McGrath had served as associate pastor under Monsignor Giusti. Plans for moving the parish facilities to our present location were begun by Monsignor McGrath. Sadly, Monsignor died in January 1979 before seeing those plans carried out.

Monsignor Patrick Wright was appointed pastor in March 1979. Under his leadership the formal move to the present site was accomplished in 1981. The first Sunday Mass was celebrated in the gymnasium of the new school on November 15, 1981. Ground was broken for our new church on June 26, 1988. On Sunday, November 26, 1989, the new church was dedicated by Bishop Daniel L. Ryan. Upon reaching his 75th birthday, Monsignor Wright was appointed Parish Administrator of St. Agnes until his semi-retirement on June 30, 2004. He then served as Parish Administrator of St. Augustine in Ashland, Illinois until his death in 2007.

Reverend Robert Jallas was appointed the eighth pastor of St. Agnes Church on July 1, 2004.