St. Patrick time capsule reveals history of church
By Judy Masterson email@example.com February 1, 2011 7:36PM
Rev. Fred Pesek Jr. holds a newspaper that was in a time capsule from 1956 that was opened at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Wadsworth on Tuesday. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 3, 2011 4:47AM
An all-but-forgotten time capsule was opened at St. Patrick School in Wadsworth on Tuesday.
The welded-copper box was discovered behind the school’s cornerstone last June, during a renovation of the building’s front entrance.
The capsule, which was interred in 1956, the year the school was founded and in which construction began, was opened at the conclusion of a Catholic Schools’ Week Mass, attended by more than 600 students, teachers and parents.
Students watched quietly through the sanctuary’s soaring floor-to-ceiling windows as a small team of priests carried the box outside, through blowing snow, to be sawed open with an electric grinder. They marched back in to a triumphant cheer.
After St. Patrick pastor Rev. Fred Pesek Jr. called for a screwdriver to pry the lid, he announced the predictable, but still satisfying contents: newspapers, old coins, a copy of the parish’s 1949 centennial booklet.
The box contained three slightly yellowed editions of the The Waukegan News-Sun from 1956, each containing a front-page story on the new school. When Pesek read the $155,000 cost of the construction, adults in the crowd chuckled. A May 7 article on the school’s groundbreaking featured a photo of dignitaries and others in attendance, including James “Jimmy” Merold, a sixth-grader at the time, who grew up to become a priest.
Rev. Merold, who still owns a home in Wadsworth, accepted the school’s Distinguished Graduate Award during the Mass and delivered a homily in which he recalled how the new school, taught by Holy Child sisters, first offered classes in two basements, one in the church and the other in the nearby home of his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. George Cashmore. He also recalled riding his horse through a forest and jumping a creek to get to the school.
“The thing about Wadsworth is the people who grow up here — we’re strong people,” said Merold, a former pastor of Queen of Peace, now Most Blessed Trinity Parish, in North Chicago. “We won’t be deterred by a little snow.”
The box also contained a long list of parishioners who pledged over and above their usual Sunday contribution to help build the school.
Opening the capsule, Rev. Pesek said, offered students perspective on the meaning of community.
“They’re benefitting from those who have gone before,” Pesek said. “A lot of community people worked very hard to get this school going. We’re enjoying the fruits of their labor.”
Principal Marcie Bosnak, who has led St. Patrick, at 15020 Wadsworth Road, since 1979, said student anticipation of the capsule unsealing had been building.
“It’s just really fun to go back to your beginning,” she said.
Eighth-grader Julia Campanella of Wadsworth, whose dad Peter actually buzzed open the copper box, declared the solving of the mystery “cool.”
The capsule and its existing contents, plus newly added ones, will once again be sealed behind the cornerstone for a future generation to discover.
St. Pat eighth-grader Nicole Dowd of Lake Villa said the contents of the 1956 capsule were “different than what we would put in there.” She would include a yearbook. Other eighth-graders suggested group photos of students and staff, and a picture of the church.
Bosnak said that after one student suggested including a flash drive containing information and photos, another wondered if that wouldn’t be outmoded technology in 100 years, to which still another student responded: “You know, antique people save that kind of stuff.”