A group of men stand near a flagpole and pose for a photo.
February 21, 2022

The Fraternal Ties that Bind

The men of St. Mary 594 in McHenry, Illinois, share decades-long friendships through their Catholic Order of Foresters memberships.

St. Mary 594 wanted a symbol that would be around for years to come.

On a bright and windy day in November, a group of St. Mary 594 members from McHenry, Illinois, met on the banks of the Fox River at the McHenry Riverwalk. There, at a flagpole they installed to commemorate St. Mary 594’s 125th anniversary, they huddled around and sang the National Anthem as one member raised the American flag.

According to Ron Freund, a Catholic Order of Foresters High Court Trustee and lifelong member of St. Mary 594, two years after St. Mary Catholic Church was built, parishioners decided to set up a Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) court. At the time, COF was only 13 years old and primarily based in Illinois.

That was in 1896, and 125 years later, St. Mary 594 is one of COF oldest and most active courts. Between court meetings and fraternal events, the men of St. Mary 594 have remained committed to each other, St. Mary 594, and St. Mary Catholic Church.

A group of men stand around a flagpole as one of the men raises the American flag.

“It runs pretty deep,” said St. Mary 594 Chief Ranger Sean Haley.

Article by Connor McEleney