As bleak and gloomy as times appeared to be a century ago, fate, along with the Lord, were working on our side when Saint Andrew parish began in 1894. Five years prior, in 1889, Lakeview Township had been swallowed up by Chicago’s expanding city limits. It was a desolate area with a scattering of small farms mostly populated by Irish, German, and Polish farmers and laborers.
The economy was in a sorry state and the streets were populated with many hungry and homeless souls. Jobs created by the Chicago fire in 1871 were long since depleted the most common means of transportation was a comfortable if not durable pair of walking shoes. The horse and buggy were considered a luxury and the streetcar had only just begun to stretch its route along Lincoln Ave. Still this didn’t keep Catholics living in Lakeview from trudging through the mud and snow through unpaved streets to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in order to worship.
It was at this time that a determined group of about 35 predominantly Irish Catholic families got together in the hope of organizing a new parish of their own. For the residents of West Lakeview, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Lourdes seemed too far a distance to go to Mass and Saint Alphonsus was strictly a German speaking parish.
Out of these limitations grew the character of the Saint Andrew parishioner that exists to this day, a determination to make things “better.” This persistent penchant and independent streak led them to Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan armed with a petition signed by 100 future parishioners. This too became a trait of a Saint Andrew Parishioner – the courage to bring things directly to the person in charge. They wouldn’t take no for an answer, despite the odds.
Map of Lakeview 1894
It was not a very promising prospect and seemed unlikely that the Archbishop would take such a risk. He was already turning down requests for new parishes with 100 families let alone accepting a request for a new parish with only 100 signatures. These original parishioners had great vision and made all obstacles transparent as they presented their plans. Another quality of a Saint Andrew parishioner that has lasted?
They must have made an impressive impact on the Archbishop because he granted their request without incident, but they weren’t finished with their requisitions. They also wanted to handpick their first pastor. They had Reverend Andrew Croke in mind who was an assistant at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Without objection, Arch Bishop Feehan named the new parish Saint Andrew in honor of Father Croke, whose namesake, Andrew the Apostle, was the first to be called by Jesus. They left his office with a pastor and a document officially creating Saint Andrew parish as a new entity.
These first parishioners set the tone for all others to follow. They created a unique character at Saint Andrew and its community, and it continued to be practiced by fellow parishioners throughout the last century and a quarter. Many of these early pioneers of the parish are with us today spiritually as we enter the church. As you enter Saint Andrew and gaze upon the spectacular stain glass windows, you will notice that many are dedicated to the memories of early parishioners who started the parish in 1894.