Most Blessed Trinity Academy is writing a new chapter in the history of Catholic education in Waukegan and North Chicago. Most Blessed Trinity Academy traces its heritage through the history of Waukegan and Immaculate Conception parish, one of the oldest parishes in northern Illinois. Located in Waukegan at 510 Grand Avenue, Most Blessed Trinity Academy (2012-present) occupies the school building which was previously the site of Immaculate Conception School (1864-2005) and Academy of Our Lady School (2005-2011).
According to Diana Dretske, Lake County Historian (firstname.lastname@example.org) in 1843, an Irishman named Michael Dulanty purchased two parcels of land located at the northwest corner of County and Water Streets in Waukegan with the intention of building a church for Irish immigrants. Dulanty then sold the land to the Catholic Bishop of Chicago. The land record shows the name of the church as St. John’s, however, almost immediately in late 1843 the parish was renamed St. Mary’s. The earliest church services were held in a log cabin. Reverend B. McGorisk was sent from Chicago to minister to the new parish and to begin the construction of the church. The first mass in the new church building at County and Water streets was held in 1847. The parish was renamed St. Bernard in 1854. Then in 1857 a parish school was established. The parish was re-named Immaculate Conception in 1864 and has had a school in this location ever since.
In October 2014, Virginia Mullery spoke about the history of Catholic schools in Waukegan to an audience gathered for the Dedication of the Ralph Tekampe Gymnasium. According to Virginia Mullery, “To construct its family tree you need to go back to 1862 when Immaculate Conception School began in a little frame building on the ravine near County and Water streets in Waukegan and from 1895 and 1926 the tree of Catholic education in Waukegan and North Chicago grew to include St. Joseph, Mother of God, St. Bartholomew and Holy Family schools... where an army of nuns – Dominicans, Benedictines, Franciscans, Sisters of St. Casimir and Mercy Sisters…taught thousands of immigrant children…from Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Lithuania and Germany.”
In the early 1980’s, Waukegan experienced a changing demographic and as a result Mother of God, St. Joseph, St. Bartholomew and Holy Family schools were compelled to change also. The leadership of these schools agreed to consolidate the four schools into three buildings with the result being the establishment of Lake Shore Catholic Academy (LSCA) in 1984 becoming one of the first school consolidations the Archdiocese of Chicago was compelled to make.
Over time, Lake Shore Academy was faced with declining enrollments and increasingly costly infrastructure maintenance. Lake Shore Academy and Immaculate Conception entered into merger negotiations in 2005. The pastors at the time: Fathers James Merold of Queen of Peace and Gary Graf of Holy Family (Waukegan), along with sponsors of Lake Shore Catholic Academy, and Frank Plotka of Immaculate Conception met to discuss the viable options. The negotiations resulted in the formation of Academy of Our Lady, a new school and with a new name, to be housed in the former Immaculate Conception building linked by continuity between the historic old schools and the newly established school.
In 2011, as the result of economic, social and demographic changes occurring in Waukegan and North Chicago, Most Blessed Trinity parish was established in response to the need for a sustainable and resourced church to serve the community. The Waukegan and North Chicago parishes of Immaculate Conception, Queen of Peace and Holy Family were unified into one parish with three sites. Most Blessed Trinity was selected as the name for the newly unified parish.
In 2012, in order to better align the identity of the school with its supporting parish, the leadership of the church and school decided to change the name of Academy of Our Lady School to Most Blessed Trinity Academy. The guiding principles and traditions established by the legacy schools are embraced within Most Blessed Trinity Academy today. Most Blessed Trinity Academy continues the tradition of providing an excellent Catholic education for all the children who come through its doors and is proud of its rich history in Waukegan.