Saturday, January 2, 2021


A sampling of histories of the Church of St. Anne in Morrison, Illinois

 from various sources


**From: A History of Whiteside County by Wayne Bastian (c1968) pg. 329-330

St. Anne’s Episcopal Church goes back informally to Civil War times.  For many years following the great conflict, a group of worshippers met in homes and read morning and evening prayer services.  When their number increased, they rented quarters.  As late as 1880, the Diocesan Journal listed Morrison as an unorganized mission.

 In 1884, a gift of $120 from the diocese enabled the group to purchase a lot at the corner of Cherry and Knox Streets.  The church was ready for formal services on March 16, 1884, and cost $1800.  For many years, pastors from Grace Church, Sterling, officiated for the Morrison church and student ministers served during summer vacations.

The building remained essentially the same through the years.  Repairs were made but St. Anne’s is the St. Anne’s that an earlier generation knew.  A parsonage was acquired next to the church about 1955.  The vicar has been full time and resident since 1954.  Confirmation, Sunday School and Discussion Classes are held.  St. Anne’s Guild is active in church work.



**From a: Handwritten History found in The Canonical Church Register (Register #2 1904-1993)

History of St. Ann’s Mission by Marcus M. Lucas (1956)

 At Morrison, Illinois, about the time of the Civil War, a small group of Churchmen met from time to time in their homes to read the service of Morning and Evening Prayer.  A ??? to the number at length required them to rent rooms or stores for services.  For some time there was no affiliation with the Diocese of Illinois, the only contact with the Church being provided by passing priests who would pause on their way to other communities.

 By this means children were baptized, the young married and the dead buried according to the Rites of the Church.  The Diocesan Journal of 1880 recorded the congregation at Morrison as an “unorganized mission.”  Later arrangements were made with the Rev. Fr. J.E. Goodhue of Sterling to give them such time as his parochial duties made possible.

 This Diocesan relation bore fruit.  In 1884, during the incumbency of the Rev. Fr. August Joss, an appropriation of $120 from Diocesan Funds purchase the lot on which the Church now stands.  This money came from the sale of Church property in the near-by town of Fulton.

 At the Diocesan Convention of 1884 Bishop McLaren announced “after a hard struggle the congregation of St. Ann’s at Morrison has finally managed to erect a fine Church building and it will be opened for solemn worship on Mid-Lent Sunday.”  That date was March 16, 1884.  The Church was consecrated November 22, 1888,  At the Bishop’s first visitation to the new mission he baptized the first white child born in Morrison, whose name was Minnie E. Vroom born in 1855.

 It was in 1888 that the Bishop administered the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation.  At that time the Church was declared free of debt and consecrated to the service of Almighty God.

 The Church building cost $1800.00 and a goodly portion of that was provided by Mrs. Susan Murray.  A number of years previously Selina France’s left to the Mission a number of securities worth at the time about $10,000.

The character of the investments was such that today the endowment of St. Ann’s is valued around $74,000.  This includes a small fund called the Ann Burr Fund. 

Recent pastors of the Church have been Frs. Church, Hibish, Thayer, Sculley, Bungen, Wetherell, Morford.

Rev. K.A. Morford came to Morrison and Sterling in 1942.  After serving here at first he entered the armed forces as chaplain, spending about three years in this country and abroad in various military units.  After being released from active duty in January, 1945, Fr. Morford returned to his charges in Morrison and Sterling, and he officiated until his death a few years later. (1952)

 For several years while Fr. Morford was serving here the Church property was improved and initiated a more active parish life.

It is a small Church, but its faith and devotion are large.  Its services alternated between 9 o’clock Eucharist and the 5 PM Evening Prayer during Fr. Morford’s and Fr. Hibish services.

 During the past year 1954 have held services here, with a Communion service once a month by the Very Rev. V.S. Jones of Dixon.  Now since the Rev. Fr. M.M. Lucas became vicar in Dec 15, 1954, Communion services are being held each Sunday at 10 A.M. and Holy Day’s are observed.

Written in the Year of Our Lord 1956 by: Marcus M. Lucas




**From a: Handwritten history continued by Fr. Heschle

1958 – 60 Howell pipe Organ installed (1980 – revoiced) (1981 – rebuilt)


Since Fr. Lucas left in 1965, the mission has been served by the following priests: 1965-1968 The Revd. Don Moon; 1968-1971 The Revd James L. Steele; 1971-1975 The Revd John Reishus; 1976-1978 The Revd D. Robert Seay; 1979-  The Revd. John H. Heschle Jr.+

The Church was totally redecorated in a plain, simple manner under Fr. Moon.  Fr. Steele, the first of the Sterling Curate-Vicar’s, designed & obtained the Lenten Array & Gold Sets of Vestments.  Fr. Seay began the present (’79 -  ) renovation of the near 100 yr. old Building.  Restoration & practicality are present Building projects Key Words.

April 1980 Fr. Heschle+



**From a: History of an Endowed Mission continued. September 21, 1982, St. Matthew’s Day


The present Vicar, Father J.H. Heschle Jr. has committed the growing congregation to a number of projects.  Since the last installment (April 1980) the Church, through a Venture in Mission grant gutted the interior of the 1884 Church to restructure, insulate & improve structural difficulties.  The work lasted from Jan – Mar 1981 at which time the congregation set up a chapel in the Undercroft.  The interior of the Nave, Sanctuary & Sacristy were gutted & rebuilt with a new support system which allowed the elimination of the tie-rods which previously held the building up.

The walls were straightened, rewired, insulated & new wall board with complete remodeling.  The Sanctuary floor was parqued in hard wood, new lighting fixtures, pews refinished & better stations of the cross as a continuance of the Fr. Lucas Memorial.  A new altar rail replaced the 1966 round one.  A falling-apart pulpit (1954) was disposed of as not fitting the original “Steam-boat Gothic” architecture.  The McKim Memorial Lecturn now serves as Lecturn-Pulpit, fitting the new liturgical idea that there be one place from which the Word of God is read & proclaimed.  The St. Ann & Our Lady Shrine, originally a Faith Fitzgerald Memorial that was destroyed in the 1966 modernization was restored by memorial gifts.  The new statue is solid carved walnut carved by Mr. David Seagreaves, an Episcopalian from Elizabeth, IL.  It took over a year from design to dedication on All Saints Day 1981

 By Parishioners donations and the Robert Fitzgerald Memorial all the pews were refinished by the Bishop’s Visitation in March of 1982.  In 1981 the Organ was removed for the rebuilding project at that time it was overhalled & improved by the builder, Howell Pipe Organs of Dixon, IL.  It was originally installed for about $2,800.00 in 1958 and improved in 1981 for $9,000.  A set of Display pipes is yet to be installed in the new pipe chamber-room.  The Sacristy was also totally rebuilt & new cabinets, closets & piscina installed for the first time.

 A new kitchen was installed in the Undercroft sometime in 1980, the Women’s Guild raised the money & men of the parish did the work.  A new electrical box with circuit breakers were put in.  Also a new furnace was also installed at that time with air-conditioning system & new duct work.  This was also the year (1980) that the new entry was competed & dedicated in memory of Bernice Tjarks.  This year 1982 we have begun to renovate the 1860 Vicarage.  First it was insulated.  then a garage & new vinyl siding added.   Finally re land scaping & repaired shutters are added (1983).  Our plans include a new bell tower (rebuilt) for the Church, a new roof, and a new bathroom in the Undercroft.  In 1982 with an increase in the congregation & Church School the Undercroft was divided with curtains for more class room space, and room in the Farm Bureau used for Christian Education.

 Our goals for the next 3 years is to begin in 1983 to be self supporting & seek parish status by Jan. 1, 1986,  God willing he will prosper us.  Fr. H+

 1984.   On June 1st we take possession of the land and house on the North side of the Church property which will be converted to the Vicarage/Rectory over the summer.  This is to provide land for future expansion and better living arrangements for the Clergy.  A driveway & garage are gained in this move.  The Vicarage at 306 N. Cherry will be sold, it has been the Vicarage since 1939, and was bought by the Endowment Fund, which is selling it and buying the house at 403 N. Cherry.  Also this year in preparation for the Building’s 100th Anniversary of Dedication (March 16, 1984) we have remodeled the Undercroft and put in a complete new bathroom – great improvements.  Future goals include fixing the tower, repairing the outside of the Church and adding a Church-school/offices wing.  Also in March of 1984 the Organ front fa├žade was completed by Mr. Timothy Boles of Howell Organ Co., Dixon, Il.  It is a memorial of 10 families in the parish.



Assistant Ministers/Vicars listed on page 32 of the Canonical Church Register (Register #2 1904 -  1993)

Mr. Hay, Seminarian – began June 1903 – terminated November 15th 1903

Eli Croft Gear, Seminarian – November 1903 –  July 1905

Albert Edward Selcer, Seminarian –  June 5th 1907 – Sept. 22nd, 1907

Edwin Weary, priest - Sterling – January 7, 1906

George John Zinn –  Nov. 1, 1908

A.B. Whitcombe –  1910

William O. Butler –  March 1st 1910 –  March 1st 1916

Robert Phillips –  1915

Walter B. Reed –  1917

Giles Herbert Shapley –  1918

John Henry Parsons –  1919 –  1924

Albert Whitcombe – 1924 –  1931 July

H.B. Zigler –  July 1931 – Nov. 1931

H.T. Bakewell – Nov. 1931

Holland L. Church – Oct. 15, 1933 – March 15, 1936

Edwin B. Thayer – April 19, 1936 – Nov. 13, 1938

Ernest W.S. Scully – February 1, 1939 – 1941

Fr. Bernger, supply – 1943 – 1946

Fr. Wm. R. Wetherell – 1943 – 1946

K.A. Morford – Feb. 1942-43 & 46-51 – died 1952

Marcus M. Lucas – Dec. 1954 – July 1, 1965*[First Vicar resident in Morrison]

Don Pardee Moon – July 1, 1965 – July 1, 1968

James L. Steele+ - July 1, 1968 – June 30, 1971

John H. Reishus – July 1, 1971 – Dec. 1975

D. Robert Seay – June 6, 1976 – July 31, 1978

John Henry Heschle, Jr.+ Vicar – January 1979

        (Deacon – 12/20/78 – Priest 6/29/79 at Grace, Sterling.  6/30/79 1st Mass at St. Anne’s Morrison.  Received as Vicar by Dean Willoughby on Sept. 14, 1979 at St. Anne’s Morrison.)

1st Rector of Parish Jan. 12, 1986 Annual Meeting.



From:  St. Anne’s ECW Recipe Collection, September 1991

Children of Grace:

Historical Notes on an Episcopal Parish in Morrison Known as the Church of St. Anne

 About the time of the War Between the States, churchmen from the East and families arriving from Canada, Scotland and England met in their homes to read Mattins and Evensong from the 1789 Prayerbook.  The Parochial Register of the Church in Sterling, Illinois records their priest, The Rev’d Father Oscar Thayer, coming to Morrison in 1865 to solemnize the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.  In 1869 Father Goodhue came in February and June to baptize fourteen persons.  He also buried John Burr on July 26, 1870 at Grove (Rose) Hill Cemetery.

 The Rev’d Father J.E. Goodhue set up a place to worship in the Hall above the First National Bank on the southwest corner of Main and Cherry Streets in the same year he came to baptize fourteen, which was 1869.  In 1877, the mission work in Fulton, Illinois known as “Grace Church,” collapsed and the property sold for $600.  Bp. McLaren, Bishop of Chicago, visited Whiteside County that year and assigned the proceeds of that sale to aid in the building of a Church in Morrison. In 1878, Bp. McLaren again visited the congregation in Morrison, on November 19th, to baptize three persons.  Later in 1891, Bp. McLaren described that visit as “a few dry bones,” indicative of previous activities in the shape of a small Altar, Cross and Lectern of wood painted white.

 Services continued to be held by the laity and Mass said when Fr. Goodhue visited.  In 1880 he baptized four more persons.  That year, Bp. McLaren listed St. Anne’s as an unorganized mission at the Diocesan Convention.  Later, Fr. A.A. Joss continued to guide the mission congregation in the rented hall.  In 1883, the corner lot at Knox and Cherry Streets was acquired for $120.  On October 11, 1883, the present wood frame structure was begun and a large portion paid for by Mrs. Susan Murrey.  The structure was completed by Thanksgiving, but not officially opened until the Bishop could dedicate it, which was not until March of 1884.

 At Diocesan Convention in 1884, Bp. McLaren’s address included these words: “After a hard struggle, the Church of St. Anne at Morrison has finally managed to erect a fine church building which will be opened for Solemn Worship on Mid-Lent Sunday (Lent IV, Rose Sunday).”  That year Rose Sunday was March 16th.  Later the bishop continued: “I visited the mission Church of St. Anne in Morrison.  In the morning I celebrated the Holy Communion, christened two children and preached.  At night I preached again.”

 After the debt of the building, $1800 was retired, Bishop McLaren returned on November 22, 1888, to consecrate the building and administer the Sacrament of Holy Confirmation.  The Rev’d Father Brittain was the first resident priest and vicar of Morrison.  In 1891, Bp. McLaren again returned to confirm five and celebrate Mass.  By 1904, the present stone Undercroft was added and the parish register recorded sixteen families and twenty-seven communicants in good standing.

 In the first decade of this century, the mission was served by a long line of priests and seminarians who stayed less than a year at a time.  In the next two decades, the incumbent-vicars tended to stay for three years or less.  In this period, three priests were well beloved and of note.  From 1933 to 1936, Father Church, a faithful priest, served as vicar and died here in Morrison.  He was followed by Father Edwin B. Thayer, 1936 – 1938, who in 1960 became The Right Reverend, The Bishop of Colorado.  In 1939, Fr. Ernest W. Scully followed Bishop Thayer, and during his vicarate, the house on 306 N. Cherry Street was purchased for $3500 by our endowment fund.  It served as the Vicarage until 1984, when it was sold and the home adjacent to the Church at 405 N. Cherry was purchased for the Rectory.

 Often until 1954, and especially in the 40’s with a shortage of priests, the Church was served by the Rector of the parish in Sterling.  Fr. Kenneth Morford was one of the much loved priests-in-charge during this period.  In December of 1954, the Rev’d Fr. M.M. Lucas came as vicar and still holds the longest record of the cure of souls here, ten-and-a half years.  He was followed by the Reverend Fathers: Donald P. Moon (’65-’68), James L. Steele (’68-’71), John R. Rieshus (’71-’75), D. Robert Seay (’76-’78) and the present priest who arrived on the 27th of December, 1978 as Vicar and became the first Rector on January 12, 1986.

 In 1979, a new barrier-free entrance was constructed on the north side, and the grounds re-landscaped.  In 1980, the Women’s Guild paid for a new kitchen, and in 1981, the Church was structurally rebuilt and a much needed restoration completed with the help of V.I.M. funds.  The Howell Pipe Organ, installed in 1958, was refurbished in 1982.  In 1983-84, a new Rectory was purchased and restored.  The addition of this land increased the Cherry Street frontage from 75 feet to 180 feet.  On the 12th of January, 1986, the mission congregation voted to organize as a Parish Church in the Diocese of Chicago and a religious corporation in the State of Illinois.

 With this background, it is our primary mission to spread the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Catholic Faith as our Church has received from Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the Creeds of Christ’s One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  It is our goal that in seeking this Faith as a parish family we will be a mission of God’s love to those around us.  “May the God who gave us this calling, give us the grace to see it realized.  From small beginnings we hope great things may be accomplished and pray it may please God to strengthen the hands of those who work, that the foundations here laid may be built upon and adequate provision be made for the development of the Church in Morrison.” Quoted from the parish register of 1883.

 Adapted and enlarged by the Rev’d Father J.H. Heschle, Jr., from a history by The Rev’d Father E.W. Scully entitled: “An Endowed Mission,” 1939.   

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Rev. Fr. James Brzezinski bio

The Rev. Fr. James Brzezinski
The Rev. Fr. James Brzezinski is a cradle Episcopalian, baptized as an infant, who grew up in New England. In his youth, he sang in the Royal School of Church Music – Men and Boy Choir training program in his parish. Involvement in public school music classes and musical groups, church music, studying piano and organ, youth group, Sunday school, serving as an acolyte and eucharistic minister, James found his life centered around faith and activities in the church. During his confirmation by the bishop he felt the Holy Spirit issuing a call to religious service.

He attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where he studied organ, voice, choral conducting, and music education. He suspended his musical studies and became an apprentice to a pipe organ builder in Wallington, New Jersey. Moving back to his home state of Connecticut he apprenticed with an organ pipe maker, learning the specialized craft of building the metal organ pipes. He then moved to California to work with the organ builders on the organ at Robert Schuller’s “Crystal Cathedral” in Garden Grove California.

While living in Long Beach, he joined an Episcopal church there singing in the choir, serving as a lector, lay reader, chalice bearer and substitute organist and choirmaster. After the Crystal Cathedral project, he accepted a position with an organ builder in Lakeland, Florida, where a year later he met Nancy Bock, a talented organist trained in Hamburg, Germany. Within ten months Nancy and James were married.

He operated his own business making organ pipes for other pipe organ builders. After closing his organ pipe shop he worked for the citrus processing company where his father-in-law was CEO. He assisted in managing the domestic and international logistics of shipping Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice.

Feeling the call to priesthood again, he returned to college and completed his Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Belhaven University. He spent three years as a seminarian at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin earning the Master of Divinity Degree.

He was ordained Deacon in 2012. He was ordained into the Sacred Order of Priests in 2013.

He has served Jesus Christ as a layman in Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Florida and Wisconsin. Since his ordination he has served churches in Wisconsin, was called as a Curate to the Church of the Holy Faith, Santa Fe, New Mexico, serving as Assistant for Pastoral Care and Liturgy, and was appointed Priest-in-Charge at St. Francis on the Hill in El Paso, Texas, serving as priest, healer, peacemaker, and rebuilder.

In May of 2017 he received a call to be the Rector, priest, and pastor of The Church of St. Anne in Morrison, Illinois, beginning his ministry at St. Anne’s on July 1, 2017.

He enjoys welcoming people into an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ.

Fr. Brzezinski is always available for Pastoral Care, Confession, Spiritual Direction, Prayer or Conversation.  Please Call Fr. Brzezinski on his cell phone: 407-761-5665 or the office: 815-772-2918 for an appointment, or email Fr. Brzezinski: