Marshall County


Rev. M. C. O’BRIEN, pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic church of Toluca, is a native of Ireland. After completing his theological studies in Troy, N. Y., he was ordained in Lowell, Massachusetts, in September, 1879, by Archbishop Williams, in the church of which his brother was assistant pastor. His first pastorate was in Champaign, Illinois, where he served as assistant priest, and also served in the same capacity at Monmouth. His first charge as pastor was in Ohio, Bureau county, Illinois, after which he was transferred to Lacon.

St. Ann’s church of Toluca was established through the efforts of Father O’BRIEN, then pastor of the Immaculate Conception church at Lacon, where he had located in 1884. In October, 1893, he came to Toluca, where he succeeded in calling together a meeting of perhaps fifty persons, who were members of other parishes, and services were first held in a building in what is now known as the old town. In the following October he became a resident of Toluca and the regular pastor, holding services in the Fay hotel, which was not then completed. Father O’Brien raised the funds with which he erected the first house of worship, and mass was there celebrated for the first time on Christmas morning, 1893. The old building is still standing, but a much better church has since been erected. It is a beautiful, modern structure, one hundred by forty-four feet, with a seating capacity of six hundred, and was erected at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars. This was raised through the efforts of Father O’Brien, who is an indefatigable worker in its interests. Here services were first held Easter morning, 1896, and on the 19th of the following July the church was dedicated, and a class of sixty confirmed by Bishop Spaulding.

Father O’BRIEN is a conscientious, earnest Christian, faithful in the discharge of his duties, a friend to the poor and needy, and he has the love and respect, not only of his parishioners, but of the community at large. Under his pastorate his present congregation has steadily increased. In politics he is a democrat, and an advocate of free silver.

Extracted May 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.

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