St. George Church                                         St. George School                                                    St. Florian Church
                                                                    Graduation Class 1953

St. George Church
St. George Church began in the June of 1903. The Slovenian immigrant population that came to Southeast Chicago became so numerous that it got to the point where there was a need to organize a church. Rev. Pleunik purchased the church site, originally located at 95th Street between Avenues M and N. With the purchase of this site, a committee petitioned in 1902 to have the Archbishop of Chicago aid them in obtaining a Slovenian priest. Rev. John Kranjec of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, responded to the call. The first thing he did was purchase three additional lots on Ewing Avenue at 96th Street, because the original site was not large enough. During the eight months prior to the building of the church, Sunday Masses were held in the old Eagle Hall on Houston Avenue in South Chicago. The original intention was to build a small wooden church, but with the turn of the century, there was a gradual expansion of industry in the Calumet region. So the wooden church project was turned into a large brick structure, with the amount of this project increasing to $30,000. The initial ground was broken on June 26, 1903. The parishioners had volunteered and within a weeks time, had dug out the foundation and laid in the first stone. Construction went smoothly, and the first Holy Mass was celebrated on December 6, 1903. The actual dedication did not occur until June 19, 1904, to permit the completion of the interior. Around 1912, a calamity developed when the Croatian membership of the parish separated themselves from St. George to create and develop their own church and school, Sacred Heart in neighboring South Deering. St. George Church also had a significant number of Italians in their parish. The interior of the church was completely redecorated, with a mural painting done by Slovenian artist, John Gosar, in 1924. Four years later, in 1928 , the church celebrated its 25th anniversary, stained glass windows were installed, and massive statuary of the stations of the cross were added. Ground was broken in the fall of 1949 for a school. Work progressed rapidly, and six lower grades opened in September of 1950. In 1978, the church celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, of over 75 years of service. The church continues to serve but the school closed in the 1990's due to declining enrollment

St. Florian Church

<>The Polish population was growing in Hegwisch around the turn of the century. They did not have a church to call their own, so they could worship freely. So a group of Polish men gathered together to build a church. The original location of St. Florian was 131st and Houston Avenue. It is now located on the corner of 132nd and Houston Avenue. The church was built in 1905 after Reverend James Edward Quigley, Archbishop of Chicago, gave permission to Reverend F. Chodniewicz, at that time the pastor of St. Colomba in Hegewisch, to build a church for the Polish community. So Reverend Chodniewicz began the preparations to make this church at once. After much determination and hard work the church was completed, and St. Florian was born. A small wooden structure (see photo above) that seated about two hundred people was built. The church was said to have cost an estimated $10,000. About one hundred families and two hundred single men attended this church, when it first opened. In 1907 Reverend Quigley gave Reverend Chodniewicz permission to construct a school. The school was made from pressed bricks. It was in the Roman style. The school was three stories high and consisted of eight classrooms. On the first floor of the school is the parish hall. The school building cost $35,000 to build. The St. Florian Catholic School opened in 1908. However, the leadership of Reverend Chodniewicz was cut short. On January 27,1922 the Reverend was brutally killed by a gun shot. An intruder allegedly tried to break into the rectory to drink the sacramental wine. Father Nowicki, the next pastor, immediately began planning a new combination church and school. This idea became a reality and in 1927 its construction was complete. This is the structure that is currently located on 132nd and Houston. In the following years a new convent and school were built for the 6th, 7th, and 8th, grades, which included a library and a modern science room. In 1980, there were 1.400 families that belonged to St. Florian Church and 461 children were enrolled in the school. The CCD program had an annual enrollment of about 400 people.

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