St. Columba Church                                                               St Petri Church
               133rd and Green Bay Avenue                                               103rd and Avenue L
St. Columba Church 

St. Columba Church was established in 1884 as a mission project from St. Kevin Church, which is located on 105th Torrence Ave. St. Columba was the first Catholic church to be founded in Hegwisch. It was a territorial parish serving the Hegewisch community. Reverend Timothy D. O'Sullivan, pastor of St. Kevin Church, sent construction workers to construct St. Columba Church at 133rd and Green Bay. Between 1893 and 1896, St. Columba was under the care of St. Andrew the Apostle Church located in Calumet City, Illinois. The frame building shown above was finished and dedicated on August 22, 1886. In 1900, Reverend M. Chodniewicz was appointed pastor of this small Catholic congregation. He served his pastorship there until 1905, when he began organizing a Polish church in Hegwisch, St. Florian. For the following thirty years, Carmelite priests traveled to Hegwisch every Sunday morning to celebrate mass for the English speaking Catholics in the neighborhood. There was no permanently assigned priest at the parish. St. Columba church remained alive during the period from 1905 to 1935 through hard work and perseverance of strong minded people. This church was close to death several times, and on a sick-bed all the time, if it was compared to the average Chicago parish at that time. But still the struggle continued and the congregation stayed alive. In May 1935, Reverend Edward D. Holloway, a former assistant at Our Lady of Peace Church, was named pastor. A special mass in honor of the golden jubilee of the construction of St. Columba church was held on June 29, 1937. During the 1930's there was a parish membership of 125 families. After WWII the neighborhood and parish began to grow and under the leadership of Father Kelly a brick church and school structure was constructed on 134th St. between Green Bay Avenue and Avenue O. The Benedictine Sisters opened the parish school for the first time on September 24, 1951 with one hundred sixty pupils from kindergarten to the first sixth grade. On December 2, 1951 at Solemn High Mass, Cardinal Stritch blessed the church and school and preached the sermon. On November 28, 1959, St. Colomba celebrated its 75th anniversary. At that point in time, 700 families belonged to the parish, and 430 children were going to St. Columba School. In September 2001 the school closed its doors due to declining enrollment but the parish remains open.

St. Petri Church

This church was founded several missionaries who set out to minister to the German immigrants of the East Side community. In 1885, these charter members purchased 3 lots of land for a sum of $600. These missionaries were from the society know as Home Mission Board of the Northern Illinois District of the Evangelical Synod. On October 25, 1885 the congregation built their first church. It was known as St. Petri Evangelical and Reformed Church. However, the young church was in major need of more financial funding. The church hardly had enough money to buy proper church needs. Benches with no backs were the first pews and a borrowed organ and a borrowed clock were basically the only things which the church obtained with its own funding. In 1891, Leonard Syler, a member of the church and a carpenter contractor, erected the present church structure facing Avenue L at a cost of $10,000. The original wooden structure had been designed by Diethelm and Franz Roy in a style common to churches in Germany. The church was known as the Evangelical St. Petri Church. Over the years improvements and remodeling have kept up with the times. In 1925, at a cost of $22,000, a parish hall was built. This hall was used as a community hall for many years and many important matters involving the East Side were decided within these walls. Since the congregation's vast majority was German, the services were given in German until 1929. In 1934, after a merger of the Evangelical Synod of North America and the Reformed Church of the United States, the name of the Church changed to St. Petri Evangelical and Reformed Church. From the original 19 members, the church grew to 500 members as of 1950. In 1999 producers from the TV series "Early Edition" used the church in an episode and the $6,000 which was earned was used to restore the exterior of the building. In 1999 the congregation consisted of roughly 350 members, about 50 of which attend services on Sundays. The church is currently known as the St. Petri United Church of Christ. 

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