Our Church Family

Our Patron

Parish History

The Parish's Patron Saint

Our parish was named in honor of St. Peter Damian who was born in Italy in 1007. He was educated as a professor and in 1035 entered the Benedictine Monastery at Fonte Avellana where he was elected Prior in 1043. Peter was adviser to popes and kings, and in 1057 was appointed Cardinal Bishop of Ostia by Pope Steven IX. His extensive writings were instrumental in reforming the church of his time. He frequently undertook missions of diplomacy for the papacy. Despite his stature as Cardinal Bishop, he was asked to be relieved of his office by Pope Alexander II and retired to his monastery to live a life of solitude. He died in 1072. In 1828, he was declared a Doctor of the Church.

A History of St. Peter Damian Church

In 1929, a most active time for the KKK, Mrs. Shields, a Catholic woman living in Bartlett, felt something needed to be done to counteract the menacing force of this group. She gathered together other Catholic women and together they formed the Our Lady of Victory Sodality, so named because the ladies sent a donation to the Our Lady of Victory Shrine in Lackawanna, New York for prayers for a very sick niece of Mrs. Shields. The girl was cured, so the ladies decided to name the sodality Our Lady of Victory. At this time, Catholics in Bartlett attended Mass at St. Isidore’s in Cloverdale (now Bloomingdale), St. John’s in Winfield, or St. Michael’s in Wheaton.

The first Mass in Bartlett was held in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Albert Buerger on June 14, 1942. The Mass was officiated by Father Peter Gail from St. Isidore’s. Mr. Buerger owned Berger Woodcrafts in the building that was later to become Setko in downtown Bartlett (now the Town Center). He very kindly converted a space on the second floor of the building into a chapel. There was an outside entrance, so the members didn’t need to enter through the factory. After the Buerger family moved to Michigan, the new owners of the building allowed the continued use of the chapel for Mass.

From 1943 until 1947 Father Conrad Torweihe and Father Edward Jaindl, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart from Geneva, Illinois conducted services. In 1947 the church was made a mission of St. Mary’s Church, West Chicago, Illinois. The assistant, Rev. James Lynch, said Mass for the people.

In 1949, the Joliet Diocese was separated from the Chicago Archdiocese. Bartlett remained in the Chicago Archdiocese, and so split from St. Mary’s. Choosing the name of St. Peter Damian himself, Cardinal Stritch sent Rev. Thomas B. Horne to Bartlett to form the new parish. Ground was broken for the new church on Thanksgiving Day 1949. The cornerstone was laid on May 30, 1950 by Monsignor Vincent Cooke.
The first Mass was said on the first Sunday of September 1950. The new church seated 150 people and featured a downstairs meeting room seating 200, a small apartment behind the altar and a garage on the lower level. The new parish was dedicated on Sunday July 6, 1952 by his Eminence, Samuel Cardinal Stritch.

On the evening of June 10, 1953, lightning struck the church. An engineer on the Milwaukee railroad spotted the blaze, but by the time firemen arrived the rear of the church, vestments, altar, roof and the apartment were destroyed. What remained was heavily damaged by smoke and water. Everything had to be either restored or replaced. While adding greatly to the existing parish debt, the work was done and the church restored. In February of 1973, because of failing health, Father Horne retired. An interim administrator was assigned to the parish until a full time pastor could be appointed.

Father Jerome Klug was selected and became pastor on July 2, 1973.  Father Klug’s first project was to reduce the parish debt. During Father Klug’s first years here at St. Peter Damian, Sunday bingo began, and many clubs and groups were formed. In 1975, the parish debt was paid off. Bartlett began to see a growth in population, and St. Peter Damian Church needed to think about expanding. With this is mind, ground was broken for a parish administration building in May of 1975. The building was completed in February of 1976, and provided living quarters for the pastor and two associates, a housekeeper, secretarial office, three counseling offices and a lower level meeting room. The property was also graded and landscaped, and a 100 car parking lot was paved. In the fall of 1975 the church was refurbished with new pews and sanctuary furniture.

Between 1975 and 1978 parish membership grew from 400 to 750 families.
In recognition of this growth, the Archdiocese assigned Rev. Ronald Mass as Associate Pastor. He was succeeded by Father Jim Ray in July 1982. Father Bob Beaven and Father Tom Srenn also served briefly in later years. By 1976 it became even more apparent that there was a growing need for a new worship center. The congregation had outgrown the existing church. Mass was being held in the church and the downstairs meeting room, as well as at Immaculata Convent. There was also a need for more space for Religious Education and social activities. The Finance Committee and the Planning Committee began exploring avenues of expansion. The parishioners voted on one multi-purpose building to be built, and plans were submitted in late 1977. The plans were approved by the Chancery Office in early 1978, and ground was broken for the new building on July 7, 1978. Construction began in the fall, and the new building was completed in February 1980.

The first Mass in the new Parish Life Center was celebrated on the feast of St. Peter Damian, February 21, 1980. John Cardinal Cody, Archbishop of Chicago, dedicated the building on Sunday April 13, 1980. During this time, the parish continued to grow under the leadership of Father Klug.

Sister Colette Wilczynski, SSJ-TOSF, was a great help to the parish, as was Sister Edna Kazek, SSJ-TOSF. St. Peter Damian’s first permanent deacon, Chuck Gagnon, was ordained in 1979. Other ordained to the Diaconate were Joe Fatigato and David Sattler in 1986, and Robert Newton in 1996. Robert Esposito was ordained to the Diaconate in 2003. Chuck Gagnon, Joe Fatigato, and Robert Newton have since left St. Peter Damian, but Dave Sattler and Bob Esposito still actively serve the parish.

Father Klug retired in June of 1990 and was replaced by Rev. William Lupo.
Prior to Father Klug’s retirement an addition to the PLC was started. It was named Hardy Hall in recognition of Richard T. Hardy, whose generous bequest to the parish paid for half of the addition. Hardy Hall is now used for Religious Education classrooms and, occasionally, meetings and social gatherings. The first Parish Pastoral Council was formed under the guidance of Father Lupo in 1994. The summer and fall of 1996 saw remodeling beginning to take place in both the Chapel and the PLC. The basement and kitchen of the Chapel were remodeled and updated. The PLC was completely changed to make it a more church-like atmosphere. Pews and kneelers were installed, replacing the chairs that had been used since the beginning. New carpeting, lighting and other embellishments were also added. The name ‘Parish Life Center’ was dropped, and the space is now referred to as simply ‘The Church’.

The renovation was completed in time for the parish’s 50th anniversary. 1999 saw the celebration of the church’s 50th Anniversary.  Francis Cardinal George celebrated mass for an extremely full church, followed by a reception in Hardy Hall.

In 2002 Rev. John Murray was appointed administrator and served St. Peter Damian until 2003, when Rev. Thomas Hoffman was appointed new pastor.  While Father Tom was here, two religious statues were added to the grounds, purchased in part through a fund-raising effort by the Religious Education children, along with the ‘Sharing Christ’s Gifts’ campaign.  In 2009, Father Tom was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Humility in Beach Park, and Rev. Walter Takuski was appointed pastor of St. Peter Damian.

Father Walter used the ‘Catholics Come Home’ campaign to bring people back to the church by offering several opportunities to re-connect, including a brunch at Villa Olivia in January of 2010. 2010 also marked the 60th Anniversary celebration of St. Peter Damian Church. Several activities took place throughout the year to celebrate, including the Pilgrim Virgin Family Home Visitation and a family picnic.  The commemoration ended with Mass celebrated by Bishop George Rassas, followed by brunch at Villa Olivia in February of 2011.

2011 saw the renovation of the Chapel and the lower level of the Chapel, as well as improvements to the Parish Office.  The Parish Office was fitted with new windows and window treatments. All rooms were given a fresh coat of paint. The old asbestos flooring in the Chapel was removed and replaced with new flooring and carpeting. The walls were painted, and the altar was upgraded, moving the tabernacle to the center of the back wall. A new altar table replaced the old one. Completion of the renovation saw the blessing of the Chapel and Consecration of the new altar by Bishop George Rassas on October 6, 2011.

The lower level of the Chapel was refurbished with the walls being painted and the flooring stripped, cleaned and waxed.  The kitchen area was remodeled with new countertops, and new appliances were installed.  The renovation of the lower level was completed in early 2012.  St. Peter Damian church has seen several changes since it’s beginning, but the one constant has been the faithful dedication of its pastors and parishioners to make St. Peter Damian a spiritual and selfless family community as we serve, celebrate, learn and share.