Church of St. Sebastian, Waverly, Morgan County, Illinois
Established in 1858
Waverly was first visited by a priest from Carlinville, Illinois, in 1857. In 1858 through the efforts of the leading members and the Bishop of Alton, a congregation was organized, and they purchased the Methodist house of worship which was afterwards known as St. Sebastian Church of Waverly, Illinois. It then became an annex of New Berlin under charge of Reverend Francis X. Schreiber. In 1873 it was attached to Virden and in 1886 to Franklin.
To Waverly once belonged most of the Catholics of Franklin district, and there most of the older members received instructions for First Holy Communion and Confirmation. It claims a long line of distinguished and now veteran members of the priesthood of Springfield Diocese, among them: Very Reverend Timothy Hickey, late Vicar General of the Diocese; Very Reverend Jeremiah Murphy, R.D., St. Patrick’s, Decatur; Reverend Patrick Joseph O’Rielly, St. Joseph’s, Springfield; Reverend Michael J. Davis, pastor of Athens and Cantrall; later Reverend Thomas McGrath, Illiopolis; Reverend Francis Bernard Kehoe, St. Patrick’s, Alton; Reverend P. R. McCauley; Reverend Lawrence J. Ryan, Farmersville; Reverend Amos Emil Giusti, D.C.L., Assistant Chancellor of the Diocese.
Waverly as is evident is one of the older parishes of the Diocese, and has had what might be called a checkered career, having been attached at different times to New Berlin, Franklin, Virginia, and Greenfield. In 1925, it was again attached to Franklin with Reverend E. D. Butler in charge.
The first resident pastor was Reverend P. J. O’Reilly, 1886. Afterwards it became in turn a mission of Franklin, Virginia, and Greenfield. Later it became a parish with Father McCauley as the resident pastor with Father McCauley as the resident pastor from 1907 to 1912. At that time Hagaman, Illinois, became a mission of Waverly. In 1912, Father L. C. Ryan was sent as pastor to succeed Reverend P. R. McCauley. He found the Church in dire need of repairs and immediately set to work to make the necessary improvements. The congregation was small so it required a man of Reverend Lawrence Ryan’s caliber to begin under such adverse circumstances. The church which was but a shell when he came, he left a nice brick veneer building, furnished and equipped, so that today it is one of the prettiest mission churches in the diocese. During his stay there he also modernized the parochial residence and today Waverly has every reason to be proud of its church property.
In 1919, the Reverend Amos Emil Giusti succeeded Father Ryan and carried on the work so ably begun by his predecessor. He paid off the debt that remained on the property, installed a new heating plant under the church and made other necessary improvements, both in Church and Rectory.
On December 8, 1922, the charge was taken by the Reverend Edmund D. Butler, who lived there until January, 1925, when he was appointed to Franklin still retaining Waverly as a mission.