Holy Trinity Catholic Church, founded in the living Catholic tradition, is committed to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional and social growth of each person. Holy Trinity Catholic Church believes in Jesus as Lord, educator, teacher and model. The aim of Holy Trinity Catholic Church is to help take on the mind and heart of Jesus Christ throughout our life, according to the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.
Holy Trinity Parish was established in 1853, when the Bishop of Chicago named Fr. Bernard O’Hara as the first pastor. The first church building was a renovated Methodist church located on Olive near Main. It was dedicated under the title of The Holy Name of Jesus. Growth in the Illinois Central and Chicago & Alton railroads led to growth in the Bloomington-Normal community, attracting many immigrants of German and Irish descent. As refugees from the famine in Ireland or from political upheaval in the German principalities and lands of the Austrian Empire, the immigrants were perceived as general purpose beasts of burden. With some exceptions, most would remain poor throughout lives which tended to be brutish and short.
The Catholic Church’s commitment to education was manifest at Holy Trinity in 1858, when the first school for boys was built in the 800 block of North Main Street. Five years later in 1863, the St. Joseph convent was built.
In the spring of 1869, a new church was framed and enclosed on the site of the current rectory, with the interior work scheduled to follow. A tornado completely destroyed the unfinished building. Since the structure was not insured, recovery from this natural disaster was long and difficult. Eight years later in July 1878, Bishop John Spalding dedicated the new church at the corner of Main & Chestnut.
By the 1880’s, the parish had achieved some success. The church was the largest and most imposing religious edifice in town. This was no mean accomplishment for a congregation of Irish immigrants who had arrived only a generation earlier. Upon the strength of his congregation, the Rev. Michael Weldon was able to set about the task of developing parish services that would serve these bright and ambitious people. He invited the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa from Wisconsin to take over the management of St. Joseph’s Academy, located west of the church. A new grade school was built in 1884 on the site of the current parking lot of St. Mary’s. By 1892, St. Mary’s was serving as a grade school and high school. Continued growth of the parish caused the first spin-off of a new congregation – now called Historic St. Patrick’s.
Planning for a new high school had begun before Msgr. Weldon’s death, and the building was completed in 1928. Trinity High School, later renamed Central Catholic High School graduated its first class the following spring.
Tragedy struck the parish again, as fire totally destroyed the church in March 1932. Fortunately, Msgr. Stephen Moore had the foresight to buy insurance, which covered most of the financial loss. Just two years later in April 1934, the parish celebrated the dedication of the new art-deco style church that still stands today. The current structure is widely recognized as the purest and most imaginative expressions of that architectural design in the nation.
The outbreak of the Second World War saw numerous parishioners contributing to the war effort. Unfortunately, that included long lists of casualties.
Parishioners emerged from the war and from the Great Depression in the late 1940’s. The challenge for the Church would be to fill the pews with prosperous and well-educated parishioners. The 1950’s were generally placid for Holy Trinity Parish and its new pastor, the Right Rev. Msgr. Bernard J. Sheedy. Towards the end of the decade, however, the parish and the pastor were shaken by two important factors. First, the exponential growth in the community generally (caused by the baby boom and immigration) caused numerous problems. More visibly, however, was the catastrophic school fire in Chicago at Our Lady of the Angels school.
That blaze let Msgr. Sheedy and the parish to re-examine the safety of the old grade school. Three new grade school were built virtually simultaneously. The two year building project was initiated in 1962, providing the current facilities of Epiphany School on College Avenue, Holy Trinity Elementary School (formerly St. Clare) on Lincoln Street and Holy Trinity Junior High School on Roosevelt Street. From the facility in Normal sprang the seed of what would soon bloom into Epiphany Parish, the first new parish in the Twin Cities since the establishment of Historic St. Patrick’s in the 1890’s.
The 1960’s and 1970’s saw the church change from Latin Liturgies to the vernacular. These changes enabled the faithful to participate more and feel as if they were a part of the Eucharistic celebration.
2014 marked another milestone in our history. To more formally recognize the shared ministry of our parish school with St. Patrick Church of Merna, Holy Trinity Elementary School was given a new identity as Corpus Christi Catholic School under the patronage of St. Clare. In 2017, an expansion to the school building on Lincoln Street was completed, allowing for all students to come together and allow for Corpus Christi Catholic School to have just one campus, now serving Pre-School through 8th grades at the Lincoln Avenue site.
In 2019, the former Holy Trinity Junior High School underwent a renovation and became the permanent home for the St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry.