Father Joel Phelps,
St. Malachy Catholic Church
311 East Grove Avenue
Rantoul, IL  61866
Our History St. Malachy Church History It has been recorded that Catholics had settled in, or near Rantoul prior to the Civil War and were served by priests from St. Mary’s Parish in Champaign, Illinois from 1859 to 1871.  In 1872, the original Catholic Church in Rantoul was built on the corner of Tanner and Champaign Streets. The present church located at 311 E. Grove Avenue, was under construction, but not damaged, at the time of the Rantoul fire of 1901. The church was constructed at a cost of $20,000.00 A dedication ceremony took place on December 6, 1901 when priests throughout the Diocese joined with the 95 parishioner families in celebration. Many of the appointments in our present church were made possible through the generosity of individual donors. The bell in the bell tower was donated by John Joseph Fitton. Patrick and Mary Markey donated the cross on the steeple. Fifteen original stained glass windows are still visible in the church. Names such as Francis Walsh, Patrick Murray, Robert and Henry Lordan, Thomas Christy, Edward Quirk, Michael Quinlan, John Leonard, Patrick Connor and P. & W. Conlin are visible reminders of those early parishioners. The St. Cecilia window in the choir loft remains and is inscribed as a gift of Mary Connor. Major church renovations took place in the 1940’s under the leadership of Rev. Charles J. Williams when the interior was completely redecorated. Included in the renovations were the replacement of the original altar that was donated by Peter Murray; The original pews with the current pews; The wooden floor with a mar-flex flooring, and The original windows over the crucifix. The original pipe organ was replaced by a Conn Tube Organ. Among many donations that were made at that time was the black marble main altar donated by the Ferd and Fiedler Families and a side altar by the E.J. Molloy Family. A marble communion railing was also installed. In 1962, many of the original stained glass windows were replaced with our modern impressionist ones.  Under Father Williams leadership the original Donovan Memorial School was razed and replaced with a two story building renamed St. Malachy School.  This included a new gym and stage area and cafeteria.  Also, the convent located on Belle Street was added. During the 1970’s, under the leadership of Rev. Stanley J. Malinowski, the interior and exterior of the church was updated. Louis Hollos donated his talents in providing landscaping design for the church grounds. A shrine to the Blessed Mother was erected on the lawn of the church and was dedicated in memory of Mary Morgan. The original slate roof was removed and replaced by an asphalt roof. In 1976, major redecorating took place in compliance with Vatican II. The sanctuary was enlarged, the main altar was moved forward and the communion railing was removed. The confessionals were removed and a reconciliation area was designed. The Baptismal area was move to one side altar and a Holy Family shrine to the other side altar. In addition, the lighting and sound system was upgraded, and carpeting was installed. That same year an Allen organ replaced the smaller Conn organ. In 1980, the parish joined with seventh and eighth grade students from St. Malachy School in erecting a Veterans Memorial on the lawn at the front entrance of the church. The interior was repainted to its existing form in 1994, and that same year, through the generosity of Bob and Bea Edwards and Margaret Fruin, the protective exterior windows were installed covering the stained glass. During our centennial year of 2001, under the leadership of Rev. Jeffrey G. Laible, more recent improvements were completed. A new roof, new carpeting, refinished pews, and restoration of the Stations of the Cross were completed. A unique and generous challenge was presented to the parishioners and friends of St. Malachy Church by anonymous donors to help defray the expense of these improvements. This challenge was entitled the “Century Campaign.”  Under Father Laible's leadership the "Opening New Doors Campaign " was formed which added need upgrades and space to St. Malachy School.  This included a new gym building, preschool, & expansion and addition of classrooms.  The old rectory/administrative office was torn down and the administrative office was moved to newly added office space on St. Malachy Campus/School area. The grounds were beautifed and a drive was named in the honored of Father Malinowski. Father also established the following committees:  Building and Grounds, Finance Council, and Cemetery Commission. Adornments and Enhancement were added to St. Malachy Cemetery that included additional statuary and benches. The Hispanic ministry was formed.  Also, a home next to the church was purchased as the new rectory and a paved driveway and three car garage/storage area was built. Additional parking was added on the East side of the church and a beautiful grass area where the old rectory/administrative office was. Our web page on the internet was also implemented.