About Our Parish

Humble Beginnings

Jesus founded the Church on the rock of Peter's confession of faith (Mt. 16:18). He also said that he would be with His Church until the end of time (Mt. 28:20). Since then we have had over 265 popes in succession. It was Pope Pius IX who approved the establishment of the Diocese of Cleveland (1847). Shortly thereafter (1863) the Madison Mission was founded. The Rev. John Tracy, Pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Ashtabula, celebrated the first Mass in Madison. The date was July 15, 1863, and the place was one of a selected group of private homes. 

Masses were celebrated monthly, and the Catholic assemblage remained in the status of a Mission connected with Painesville, South Thompson, Jefferson, Willoughby, and Geneva successively until July 22, 1934. During the same year the parish was placed under the patronage of Mary Conceived without Sin, and thus received the title of the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

In June 1898 the Mission was removed from the jurisdiction of South Thompson and was served by the Willoughby parish. Rev. Gerald Bergen cared for the Madison Mission. He was replaced by Rev. K. P. Banks in 1902. The congregation number 10 families. Membership grew under the tenure of Rev. Julius Kitter who was followed by Rev. William Moseley who was the last priest to serve the Mission from Willoughby. The Reverend Leo Collins of St. Mary's in Painesville arrived to assist the Mission in 1915. The congregation grew to 75 people and in 1920 Rev. Daniel Gallagher of St. Mary's ministered to the Mission.  He was later, pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Geneva. 

The Rev. Raymond A. Kathe, pastor of Assumption in Geneva, was the last Mission priest. In 1934 the congregation was assigned the status of an established parish with the Reverend Ludwig Virant being the first pastor. Property was purchased in 1945 on Hubbard Road and it is the site of the present Church building. In 1950 the Rev. John F. Mulholland assumed the pastorate of the parish. Another parcel was purchased in 1952 and in March, 1953 the cornerstone of the church was laid. Status indicated 350 families at the day of Christmas 1953 in the new church. The church was dedicated October 18, 1955 by Bishop Edward F. Hoban. 

In 1974, on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Fr. Mulholland died. He had been pastor for 24 years.  In 1975, Reverend Joseph Goebel was assigned as pastor.  Groundbreaking ceremony for the new Parish Center occurred on April 9, 1978. Of this same year on September 5th, Fr. George Bailey was appointed as Associate Pastor.  Then on June 18, 1979, God blessed us with Reverend Harry J. Fagan as our newly appointed parish pastor.  

The Parish Center was dedicated in 1980 by Bishop James Griffin.  In 1982, Mary's Shrine was moved from St. John's College, Cleveland, to the parish grounds. In 1988, the parish celebrated its 125th Anniversary.  In 1994 Fr. Fagan retired to become Pastor Emeritus. On October 18, 1994, Fr. Luigi C. Miola was installed as the 5th pastor.  Fagan Hall was dedicated April 28, 1995. On October 14, 1997, Pastor Emeritus Rev. Harry J. Fagan died.  He had been pastor for 15 years.   Fr. Fagan's Funeral Mass was concelebrated by 4 bishops and an abbot, with about 100 priest in attendance. 

The new millennium brought many blessings! On November 24, 2003, Reverend Sean J. Donnelly, MA, D. Min. was appointed as pastor. Our first preistly vocation occurred on May 16, 2009 with Father Kevin Estabrook. We were blessed with two groundbreaking ceremonies, both dedicated by Bishop Richard G. Lennon. The first occurred in 2010 for the main altar and 2011 held the second for the new chapel altar. Additionally, the Church of the Immaculate Conception Church celebrated 150 years on July 21, 2013!  As of 2015, our parish community includes 1,110 families and parishoners.


Growing Through Change

God has blessed us with many needed improvements and repairs: new flooring in the church, steeple project that entailed repairs and painting. To add to the fresh look to the outside of the church, all of the windows have been scraped, cleaned and painted.

 In the Parish Center the walls were repainted and replaced the ceiling tiles and overhead lights.  Also, we replaced the carpet in the hallway to the offices, the library, and the PSR office. Furthermore, we now have WiFi. In the library we replaced the old chairs with new conference chairs and 150 new chairs for the Parish Center. The kitchen received a new convection oven. We rebuilt the handicap ramp on the south side of the church and north entrance walk ways and steps. Upper and lower parking lots were re-paved. We also did some clean up around the church yard and took out 6 trees that were partially dead as well as growing too close to some of the buildings. Once the big tree next to the rectory was removed, it was discovered that a small tree was growing out of the chimney of the rectory. A little more difficult to get to, but was also removed.

We welcomed the new addition to the altar during Eucharist Adoration. The Monstrance, which holds the consecrated host, sets on a Thabor to give it an elevated appearance. The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Come and spend time with Him.

Altar Alterations over the Years…The most important part of the sanctuary in a Catholic Church is the altar of sacrifice, because it is the locus for the sacramental offering of Jesus' body and blood. Traditionally, an altar is specially consecrated for sacred use. When people approach the altar, a proper gesture is a bow. When the priest ascends the sanctuary steps and approaches the altar, he and accompanying ministers (concelebrating priests or deacons) will kiss the mensa (the altar top). An altar that is specially consecrated has a relic or a set of relics inside the altar stone, which is traditionally located in the mensa, close to where the priest kisses the altar. In more recent times, the relic is placed under the mensa, where there is a hollowed out area to hold the small metal case that contains it. The saint whose relic is housed in our main altar is St. Maria Goretti and in the chapel alter is St. Catherine of Siena.

Our main altar has seen several metamorphoses. Originally, it was located directly under the wooden canopy, with the picture of the Immaculate Conception as the backdrop. When the liturgy was modernized and it became customary for the priest to offer Mass facing the people, the altar was cut down, to about half of its original size, and moved forward. Many of you remember that this was the way the altar looked until four years ago. At that time, the mensa was replaced by a much larger one. (The bishop blessed the new mensa on January 23, 2010.) This gave the altar a much more imposing presence in the sanctuary. In the summer of 2014 allowed us to add a couple of pedestals on either side of the altar's central support structure. The pedestals (or "legs") give the altar a more balanced appearance, and add to the beauty of the sanctuary.


Looking to the Future

As we go forward, we have plans to fix the walls to the basement entrance to the back of the church, as well as the rectory front steps. If we have the money to do so, we would like to continue our paving project sometime this summer with paving the back parking lot.

Who can adequately measure the contributions made by a parish, to the life of a community? The sacraments, the Christian moral life, the Creed and the life of prayer provide the means to attain and maintain holiness of life. 

A humble and sincere thank you to all that helped rebuild God's house and our home!




















For several years St. Francis of Assisi searched the Scriptures, talked with friends and spiritual advisors, and prayed long hours in churches, woods and caves listening to God’s call and purpose for his life. Then one day in the church of San Damiano, a chapel right outside of Assisi, he heard the invitation of Jesus: “Francis, go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins.” “Yes!” said Francis. “This is what I want; this is what I long for with all my heart.”


St. Catherine of Siena was the 24th child of a wool dyer in northern Italy.  She started having mystical experiences at only 6 years old, which she saw guardian angels as clearly as the people they protected. St. Catherine became a Dominican tertiary at 16 and continued to have visions of Christ , Mary and the saints. Without formal education, she was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day. In 1375 Our Lord gave her the Stigmata, only visible after her death. St. Catherine died at just 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430. Her feast day is feast day is April 29, she is the patroness against fire, illness, the United States, Italy, miscarriages, people ridiculed for their faith, sexual temptation, and nurses.


St. Maria Goretti  was born on October 16, 1890. She died as a martyr by defending her chastity. At only 11 years old she was attacked by a young man (Alessandro Serenelli), which she knew. When his attempted rape failed, Maria was stabbed 14 times. During the 24 hours it took for her to die, she repeatedly prayed that her assailant would repent. Maria died on July 6, 1902. During Alessandro's 27 years of confinement, he said Maria appeared to him in a dream, holding 14 white lilies. His first act was to ask Maria's mother, still living at the time, for forgiveness. She said to him, "If my daughter can forgive you, who am I to withhold forgiveness." Many years after Maria's death, Alessandro converted and contributed information that led to her sainthood. On June 25, 1950, Alessandro and Maria's mother attended her canonization ceremony, conducted by Pope Pius X . Her feast day is July 6. St. Maria Goretti is the patroness of youth and for the victims of rape.

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