Cicero's St. Frances of Rome Church celebrates 90 years
CICERO — There is something alluring about St. Frances of Rome Parish in Cicero to its parishioners. Even during last week's Tuesday blizzard—as well as the day before and after—the faithful came out of their homes to gather and pray.
The three-night retreat was held as part of a week-long celebration of the parish's 90th anniversary. A special Mass was celebrated by Bishop John Manz on Saturday, who stood in for Cardinal Francis George, who was called to Rome for the selection of a new pope.
After Mass, the congregation gathered at the St. Frances of Rome School Auditorium, 1401 S. Austin Blvd., for a reception and dinner where parishioners, current and former, talked about the ties that bind them to the old church at 1428 S. 59th Court.
Father Mark Bartosic, pastor of St. Frances of Rome, said the connection between former parishioners and the church is not hard to understand.
"The people, they are very dedicated to the parish," Father Bartosic said. "I think they have had a real experience of the Lord's love here and are grateful for it."
The church got its start with just a $50 bond and the determination of a group of women known as the "La Petites." The group confronted Bishop Hoban, chancellor of the Chicago Archdiocese, and proposed that a church was urgently needed on the West Side. He sent them off with some advice on how to make it happen.
The women organized the Chicago, Oak Park, Cicero and Berwyn area into zones for the purpose of raising funds to build a church. The church would be built in Cicero, and would draw Irish, Czech, German, Latin, Slavic and Lithuanian worshippers from all four communities.
On Feb. 2, 1923, a meeting was held at the A.C. Clubhouse, where the parishioners-to-be met Rev. John L. Kelly, who was assigned as their Pastor. The first Mass was held Feb. 25 at the Clifford Theatre on Roosevelt Road near Austin Boulevard. Ground for the new, Spanish Mission-style church was broken at Austin Boulevard and 15th Street in the fall of that year.
Mary Ann Pater left the parish after she and her family moved to Berwyn and joined St. Odilo Church, yet she has fond memories of being a parish member of St. Frances of Rome for 12 years.
"It was a place where we worshiped God and met many people and made friends," she said. "We became more acquainted with the Church and God."
Pater and her husband, Gary, collaborated with another former parishioner, Helen Suire of Bartlett, in preparing a pamphlet of remembrance of the church, which included many congratulatory messages from present and past parishioners.
"What we really wanted to do is just thank God and his many blessings, truthfully," Pater said.
Only the most recent 7 days of articles are available for free. For articles older than 7 days there is a small fee for retrieval from our archive. If you are a registered member of the site, the content is free just by signing in below.
To allow for flexibility, we offer a variety of options for purchasing articles:
If you have any technical difficulties, either with your username and password or with the payment options, please contact us by e-mail at email@example.com