Our Lady Gate of Heaven Church                                      St. Simeon Mirotocivi Serbian Orthodox Church

Our Lady Gate of Heaven
Our Lady Gate of Heaven is a Catholic territorial parish whose boundaries are 95th Street, 103rd Street, the Calumet railroad yards on the west and Torrence Avenue on the east. It was founded in 1948 to serve the newly growing residential area known as Merrionette Manor and Jeffrey Manor. Joseph Merrion, a Chicago developer, filled in the wetlands in the area with slag from the local steel mills and began to build duplexes for the post World War II families moving into the region. The outer area was known as Jeffrey Manor and the central area was known as Merrionette Manor. Currently the area is commonly referred to as the "Manor". Property was donated to the Archdiocese for a Catholic church. Our Lady Gate of Heaven was originally known by its Latin name "Porta Coeli". The church was originally located at 100th and Crandon. A combination church-school building was constructed at 2330 E. 99th Street and dedicated on April 12, 1953. By 1955 there were 383 students enrolled in the school. The church has been active in community affairs and responsible for the formation community organizations. The life of the parish has been marked by transition as the neighborhood changed from predominantly white to African American. 

St. Simeon Mirotocivi Serbian Orthodox Church

St. Simeon Mirotocivi is a Serbian Orthodox Church located at 114th and Avenue G on the East Side. The congregation was organized in 1964. The cornerstone for the new church was blessed in January 1969. A block of 48 lots was purchased for the church, a hall, and pavilions. The design of the church is a copy of the Serbian medieval monastery of Kalenich according to architects Pavlecic, Kovacevich and Markovich. The style is the Morava School of Serbian Byzantine architecture. There are no pews in the church because the worshipers conduct their services in the old style. Saint Simeon was founded by about 200 families who split from St. Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox church over a dispute arising from a Yugoslavian government decision to defrock an anti-communist American bishop. The split ended in 1992, although the churches remain separate. 

A Note About Churches

This booklet has concentrated on the older or more historical churches located in Chicago's Southeast Side. A few of the old churches have been omitted because historical records, photographs, or materials about the histories of these churches are not available. More newly established churches, founded by more recent groups of newcomers to the community, have also been omitted because materials about their history are lacking. The Southeast Historical Museum continues to acquire materials related to community and church histories. Church anniversary books are particularly important and needed to enhance the museum collection. Should any reader have access to church anniversary books or other historical materials from Southeast Side churches and congregations, please contact the Southeast Historical Museum located in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago. Regular hours of the museum are 1:00 to 4:00 PM on Thursdays and from 12:00 to 3:00PM on the first Sunday of the month. Materials may be donated to the museum or they can be copied and returned to their owner. Please help us to fill in the gaps in the history of our community. 

Cultural Pluralism or Assimilation?

The remaining pages of this booklet briefly pose the question whether ethnic groups maintain separate identities or lose their ties to the "old world" and become Americans. Is America a "melting pot" where ethnic differences diminish over time (assimilation) or, as some suggest, a "salad bowl" or "cultural mosaic" made up of different entities which retain their individual characteristics while creating a composite which is different from its component parts (cultural pluralism)? You be the judge. 

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