The Founding of VISITATION Parish

Visitation Church was founded in 1953 to serve the growing Catholic population in south Elmhurst. At the time, there were 450 Catholic families within the bounds of the parish.

Bishop Martin D. McNamara canonically erected the parish on June 11, 1953, and on June 27, he assigned Rev. John F. Podesta to be Visitation’s first pastor.

A site for the parish was found in a nine-acre tract of land along York Road south of Madison Street. In July, work began on a small building intended to serve both as a church and a meeting hall (today that building is known as Madonna Hall). By September, ground had been broken for a second structure – a parish school to be staffed by the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan.

Celebrating mass at the church ground breaking

Visitation's first church

Msgr. John f. POdesta


The parish rapidly outgrew the original church, so a new wing was added to the school and another “first Mass” was celebrated on Christmas morning, 1954. The space would serve as a church for more than 12 years.

Next on the building agenda was a convent, completed in 1957, to house the six Sisters who had been assigned to Visitation School.

In 1959, construction began on a second school wing, which was finished in time for the start of school in 1960.

By 1964, the parish numbered more than 1,600 families. It was clear Visitation had to build a new church. Designs were created to reflect the liturgical changes introduced through II Vatican Council, and a new church was completed in 1967. A welcome effect was that the school could convert into classrooms the space that had been the temporary church.


Named in 1959 Domestic Prelate with the title Right Reverend Monsignor, Msgr. Podesta retired in 1977. He had shepherded Visitation Parish for nearly 25 years.

Succeeding Msgr. Podesta was Rev. Dominic Valentino, who served the parish until 1994. Fr. Valentino spearheaded construction of a new rectory and the parish center gym that today bears his name.
In 1994, Rev. Michael Lane was named the third pastor of Visitation Parish. Among his initiatives, Fr. Lane has focused on updating and maintaining the church and school’s aging facilities.

Most significantly, in 1996, Fr. Lane established the Perpetual Adoration Chapel of our Lady, Mother of the Eucharist. Today the chapel draws people from throughout the area who seek to be in Christ’s presence through the Blessed Sacrament, which is exposed upon the chapel altar 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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