A pair of first communicants carried on a longstanding tradition at St. Mary’s Church in Beaverville, IL, when they received their first holy communion in May. Just seeing children of the parish, dressed in their finest, excited to receive the sacrament, uplifted the entire parish.

Fr. Dan Belanger with Quinn, left, and Ryder, on their special day.

Quinn Frye and Ryder Gwaltney prepared all year through their religious education classes before they received the Eucharist for the first time from Fr. Dan Belanger, CSV, pastor. To cap off their special day, they crowned Mary, the patron saint of this historic church.

Affectionately called the Cathedral in the Cornfields, St. Mary’s was founded in 1857 by a group of French Canadian families, who traveled down the St. Lawrence River and across the Great Lakes in search of farmland.

St. Mary’s in Beaverville

Ryder and Quinn and their parents help to crown the parish’s patron saint.

The church now serves approximately 100 farm families who continue to work to preserve the church and in 1996 parishioners successfully had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In serving as pastor, Fr. Dan carries on a long history of Viatorians who have led the parish, on and off, since 1882.