Rev. Herman Ezell, pastor, in foreground as
he turned first shovel of dirt at the location
of the new parish school. Other (L. to R.):
Msgr. Gregory M. Cloos, John Walsh Sr.
and Edward Drauden Sr. (Parish Trustees),
Rev. Joseph Jurkovich, Assistant at the parish.
Located in Plainfield, IL and part of the Diocese of Joliet, St. Mary Immaculate Parish School was established in 1955. For many years parishioners had inquired about the possibility of having a school in Plainfield. Finally assurance was given that the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate Order would be available for staffing the school. With the permission of Bishop Martin McNamara, a six-acre tract of land in Plainfield Acres was purchased in October, 1953 at the cost of $9,000.00.
On Sunday, November 7, 1954, numerous parishioners and friends gathered to witness Rev. Herman Ezell turn the first shovel of dirt for the parish school.
After Father Rotondi was appointed pastor in June 1955, he took over the supervision of the completion of the construction and bought the house on the N.E. corner of Division and Chicago to serve as a convent. The cost of the property was $18,500.
The expense for remodeling and furnishing the house amounted to $4,000. At the time of Fr. Rotondi's appointment, only $30,000 had been paid on the pledges for the 6-room school whose total cost of construction and the furnishings amounted to $119,000.
The doors of St. Mary's School opened in September 1955, with an enrollment of 167 students and a faculty of four religious with Sister Audrey Kappes as principal. Sister Miriam David, Sister Gilberta and Sister Matthias completed the faculty.
On May 13, 1956, at 3 p.m., St. Mary's School was officially dedicated by Bishop Martin D. McNamara. The students in school uniforms formed an aisle for the Bishop and Honor Guard of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus. This ceremony was followed by Confirmation at 4 p.m. for 117 children and 32 adults administered by Bishop McNamara.
St. Mary Immaculate Parish School in 1956.
In the afternoon of August 28th, 1990, at 3:28 p.m. the Plainfield community was torn apart as a category F5 tornado carved a path of destruction, killing a total of 29 people. By 3:45 p.m., the tornado had directly struck St. Mary Immaculate Parish school, killing the principal, Sister Mary Keenan, music teacher Gloria Sanchez and Howard Hawes Jr. and injuring others. The church building was spared a direct hit, but suffered major damage.
Aerial view of the 1990 Plainfield F5 tornado aftermath. The photo shows the path of destruction the tornado caused as it ripped through the church campus, including the school, and other surrounding houses.
In 1991 the construction of the new church campus began in earnest. The new church was completed in 1993. The school was open in the fall of 1993.
The school has risen from devastation into a strong, Christ-filled center of learning.