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East Side Churches
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St. Francis De Sales

Original Wooden Church Building

      One of East Side's most well known churches is St. Francis de Sales which began in 1888. At the time, the church was considered as an organized German Parish, a mission of St. Peter and Paul Church. Soon after, the parish was established as a territorial parish to serve Catholic families in the Colehour district (now known as the East Side).  During this time, St. Francis De Sales was unofficially considered as a German Parish.  There were also a large number of Luxemburgers in the parish.  Under the leadership of Rev. Francis M. Bay,  a frame church was constructed at 10215 S. Ewing Avenue (then known as Avenue K). This was the beginning of the official church. The church became a very important part of the community and during that time the church came to be known as part of "The German Element" on the East Side of Chicago. 
      On the night of January 22, 1925, St. Francis de Sales church was almost completely destroyed by fire, that began in the basement of the church.  The flames of the fire were so great and so intense that firemen could not approach within a hundred feet of the inferno. 
     In June of 1925, the church was reconstructed with the help of Rev. Francis Wester.  Whatever the cause, January 22, 1925, was a day that tested the faith of the parishioners of 40 years ago.  Their courage and determination to build an even better St. Francis de Sales Parish is still considered as one of the brightest chapters in the parish history.

St Francis De Sales After Fire
     What started as a little German Parish had become a big part of the East Side community affecting many families in their religion.  During its heyday there were four major ethnic groups at St. Francis de Sales parish: German, Irish, Italian, and a large number of Luxemburgers. Later groups came from Abrozzi,  in the province of Campobasso.  The recent arrivals in the East Side neighborhood include Spanish-speaking families, mostly Mexicans. These families have become a big part of the parish today.
       St. Francis de Sales church is now currently located at 10155 S. Ewing. As was common with Catholic parishes of the time,  St. Francis de Sales had a grammar school which was opened in December of 1888.  In recent years it was closed and then sold and became a grammar school known as the Gallistel Branch.  Across the street from St. Francis de Sales parish, is located a high school "St. Francis de Sales High School," that holds the same name as the parish since it was constructed because of the church.
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