HISTORY OF ST. JANE DE CHANTAL PARISH
On July 3, 1954, Samuel Cardinal Stritch appointed Reverend John A. Ward to organize St. Jane de Chantal Parish in the vicinity of 53rd and McVicker. The site was a vast prairie, holding the potential of uniting a Catholic Community but keeping this virtue well hidden under wild grasses.
Before constructing any buildings, Father Ward needed to create this Community. Many from the area had petitioned to create this new church. They united. On August 1, 1954, the new pastor celebrated the first Mass at Mark Twain Public School, which he rented for $96.00 per Sunday. Within a year, four Masses were celebrated each weekend. The pioneers of the fledgling parish attacked an enormous fundraising responsibility by holding bake sales, house parties, and fall festivals.
Meanwhile, a small bungalow stood on the parish property. Members of the newly organized Holy Name Society converted it into a temporary rectory with a small basement chapel for daily Mass. This simple building, in the hands of the St. Jane community, became home base.
On Palm Sunday, April 3, 1955, ground was broken at 5201 S. McVicker for a multipurpose church-school-convent-hall building. The cornerstone was laid on June 26, 1955. Archdiocesan Chancellor Monsignor Edward M. Burke extended a warm blessing onto the building that would become our place of worship for a few years, and our children’s bastion of education for their youth. Mass in the new church was celebrated for the first time on Christmas, 1955.
The multipurpose building was completed at the cost of $375,000 (about $2.5 million dollars in 2004).
On March 2, 1962, ground was broken for the present church and rectory. The cornerstone laying ceremony took place on July 16, 1962, with Reverend Monsignor John S. Quinn and Mayor Richard J. Daley participating.
Father Ward celebrated Mass in the new church on March 25, 1964. On April 26, 1964, Albert Cardinal Meyer presided at the dedication ceremony together with Mother General Francis de Sales Heffernan, OP, Governor Otto Kerner, Mayor Daley, and Cook County State’s Attorney Daniel P. Ward, the pastor’s brother.
Our current Shepherd, Father Edward J. Cronin, who came to us July 1, 2010, has re-energized our parish. We are in the midst of a major capital campaign to improve our parish buildings and grounds. We are grateful for the continuing support of our parishioners and friends during this jubilee time.
Thank you for the last 60 years. May God bless our future endeavors.