Momence St. Jude’s Seminary H.S. “Black Knights”

Momence St. Jude Seminary
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Lake County Discovery Museum/Curt Teich Postcard Archives,

The History of Momence St. Jude’s Seminary

Momence (population: 3,200) is located in eastern Illinois in Kankakee County, about eight miles east of Kankakee and six miles west of the Illinois-Indiana state line. The Kankakee River runs thru the middle of the city, and can also be reached by using state highways 1, 17, and 114.

The community was named for Isadore Momence, who later married the daughter of a Pottawatomi chief, sometime in the 1830’s or so. When Kankakee County was founded in 1853, Momence was one of the founding townships.

Our good man and site author Kev Varney provided the following research information on St. Jude’s Seminary:

“The seminary was organized in 1933 through funds given to the Chicago Police branch of the St. Jude’s League, and grew to the point that the school went from a small building to a three-story brick and stone structure in 1937. St. Jude’s was located on Illinois Route 1, also known as the Dixie Highway, and bordered the Kankakee River. The school’s main purpose was to prepare future missionaries with the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (also known as the Claretian Fathers).

Here are a couple of links as well:

1) History of St. Anthony Claret (founder of the Claretians):

2) The Claretians’ website and their history: Website mentioning Claretians’ archives: . ”

The seminary was officially closed in 1973 after 40 years of service.

Momence St. Jude’s Seminary Quick Facts

Year opened:                     1933

Year closed:                       1973

School team nickname:   “Black Knights”

School team colors:          Black & Orange

School Fight Song:            unavailable


We know that the Momencs St. Judes High School boys competed in basketball and hockey. We believe that baseball and track, possibly even football, were offered at one time as well. If you have any specific information regarding the Black Knight athletic program please write to us via the means listed below.


Chorus was definitely an option at Momence St. Judes. Band, dances, and other clubs and activities were also a part of the school’s educational opportunities.



**From Alphe Seymour:

“I am an alumnus of SJS. I have put together a vast amount of info about SJS. I have put together every yearbook, pictures, school songs, school news papers, video clips, memories of many of the alumni, and just about every name of the alumni. I have sent a CD (of this information) to Patrick Zugg, who lives in Momence. His insurance business is on Washington Street. He is the son of the farmer who ran the St. Jude Ranch in the 1950’s and 60’s. Good luck!”

**From Greg Holler:

“I attended St. Jude freshman and sophomore years, Fall 1966 to Summer 1968.  Information you may be missing is:

Team colors:  Black and Orange

Team Nickmane:  Black Knights

I played basketball and hockey and I sang in the choir while I was attending.  The most notable singing engagement we had was singing at the policeman’s mass in the cathedral in Chicago. Thanks for keeping the memories alive.”

**From Henry Ogrodnik:


“I attended St. Jude Seminary from the fall of 1965 to the spring of 1967. It was the best 2 years of my entire 16 years of parochial education and did a wonderful job preparing me for my 28 year career in the US Army.  At St. Jude your day was packed from 5AM to 10PM with classes and other activities.  We did not spend all day in chapel but a good portion was dedicated to that part of the seminarian life.  There were also ample grounds (nearly 50 acres) to exercise and enjoy nature at St. Jude. I know of the cemetery located in the NE corner of the grounds near the apple orchard may have been omitted because of article space, but many well known Claretians were buried there.

I believe the nuns who did our great meal preparation were either from Chile or Peru. Wonderful cooking! They understood very little English but if you were able to communicate with them in Spanish you could expect some extra portions. Everyone there tried their best to make you feel at home.

I was one of the few “brother” seminarians who was originally scheduled to go to the LaSalle/Peru IL. seminary but it was closed in 1965 and the few brother seminarians attending there were transferred to St. Jude, in Momence.

I do not remember a hockey team when I was at St. Jude but I did play junior varsity and varsity basketball. One of our games was against Holy Cross Seminary at Norte Dame in Indiana. Another was against Onarga Military Academy in central IL. We did not excel in sports for various reasons but it was all in how you played the game anyway and we did that well. The gym contained a swimming pool that I really enjoyed during my off hours and the basketball court was fairly modern for those days.

I believe actor Danny Thomas was an important player in recruitment while I was going there.  He was in a promotional movie that was shown to all the Catholic primary school students who were in 8th or 7th grade showcasing the Seminary. That may be what initially peaked my interest in this way of life.”


We’d like to offer thanks to Dr. Malachy McCarthy with the Claretian Fathers in Chicago for several bits of information he provided regarding St. Judes’ history, as well as the Montay dissertation for information found in that article.


is something we say a lot and can get from you if you know more information about the history of Momence St. Judes Seminary. We welcome your information via email at or by writing us at the following address:


6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

St. Jude Seminary
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Lake County Discovery Museum/Curt Teich Postcard Archives,

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