Johnsburg Parish Celebrates 180 Years
St. John the Baptist parishioners celebrate their community roots
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 7, 2021
JOHNSBURG—St. John the Baptist Parish here traces its beginnings all the way back to 1841 when three young men arrived in the area, immigrants from Germany.
More families followed, and in 1842 the first St. John the Baptist Church was constructed on the site of the present church. That first church was built of logs and was 20 x 28 feet in size.
A larger, frame church was built in 1850 and blessed by the bishop of Chicago. A third church built of brick and of Gothic architecture was begun in 1867. It was destroyed by fire in 1900. 
The current St. John the Baptist Church was completed in 1902, patterned after the north German Gothic architectural style. It was in this church where parishioners and dignitaries gathered to celebrate the parish’s 180-year history on Oct. 2 with a Mass followed by a social gathering.
Rockford Bishop David Malloy served as celebrant, joined by several members of the Congregation of the Resurrection including retired Bishop Robert Kurtz, CR, who after a varied career as a Resurrectionist priest served as Bishop of Hamilton in Bermuda for 20 years.
Present also were the Resurrectionists’ U.S. Provincial, Father Steven Bartczyszyn, and current St. John the Baptist pastor, Father Jacek Junak, CR.
Two diocesan priests came from nearby parishes: Father Joseph Jarmoluk of St. Peter in Spring Grove and Father Carlos Datu “Caloy” Saligumba of Christ the King in Wonder Lake.
Bishop Malloy began his homily with the reminder that, “This is Respect Life Sunday.” 
He spoke about the Mass readings, including Genesis 2:18-24 about the creation of Eve.
“All of this is part of creation,” he said. “It is part of God’s plan … that whole program of God: the sanctity of marriage, the gift of sexuality … the very gift of children, a new reflection of God’s life … All of that is being challenged today … so it is that we respect life because it comes from the hand of God, it reflects God and it is a part of creation that has been handed to all of us.”
Turning to the 180-year anniversary, the bishop reflected how 1841 was 27 years before the First Vatican Council and the year that St. Bernadette was born.
That length of time, he said, “gives so many thoughts about faith, about continuity, … about struggles,” and he noted that the “first thought is congratulations … but the whole story … reminds us … our first task is to return and to offer thanks to God.”
Bishop Malloy noted the four St. John the Baptist church buildings, “the first being the result of a vow that (was) taken by one of the first settlers” during a stormy ocean crossing.
“Those first settlers,” he noted, “were people who did not have the material things and the social blessing that we have … St. John the Baptist (church) came to a people who put their faith first … what a lesson it is to look at that … that whole view you have inherited … and kept up so well … it was made to honor the presence of God and to draw our hearts to God.”
Toward the end of his homily, the bishop noted the almost-30 pastors of the parish, the donors, the parish secretaries, and the parishioners over 180 years, “with that thought to pray” for one another.
“Your participation becomes the grace,” he said. “May God continue to bless this parish; may God continue to keep all of us faithful.
“Yes, congratulations. But first, thank God for this great gift.”
A social time drew parishioners across the street after Mass to a community hall for Polish sausage, bratwurst and hamburgers cooked up by the Knights of Columbus and cakes decorated with an edible rendition of the church.


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