St. Francis De Sales
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.
Original Wooden Church Building
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
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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