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St. Monica
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The origins of St. Monica Church date back to the late 1800s when Black Catholics worshipped in the basement of the Old St. Mary's Church which was located at 9th and Wabash Ave.   

 1882  Members of the St. Augustine Society sponsored a bazaar in St. Mary Church in order to raise funds for a church of their own.
 1889  Rev. John Augustine Tolton, the first Black priest to be ordained for the United States was appointed to organize the Black Catholics of Chicago.  Rev. Tolton born a slave in Brush Creek, MO as a youth was baptized a Catholic.  He grew up in Quincy, IL where he attended school.  Denied permission to enter a U.S. Catholic seminary he pursued his studies at the Sacred College of the Propaganda in Rome, where he was ordained in 1886.
 1891

 On September 13, 1891 the Chicago Times reported: 
In Chicago the colored Catholic population is small and their needs are amply ministered to by Father Tolton (colored), in the basement of St. Mary's church on Wabash Ave.  It was by their own wish to be formed into a congregation by themselves, but if prevented from attending their own mass they were always made welcome at any of the other churches.  In this way there has been no cause for friction, and white and colored lived in "perfect harmony" with the other.

 1892  Father Tolton met with a group of prominent Catholics to make plans for a new church at 36th and Dearborn.  A donation of $10,000 from Mrs. O'Neill was made on condition that a like sum be raised by friends of the new parish.
 1893  The foundation of St. Monica Church was laid and when completed, the structure would be 62 feet wide by 100 feet in length, of Romanesque design, with twin towers.
 1894  St. Monica Church was dedicated on January 14, by Rev. M. Neumann, OSF.  Father Riordan of St. Elizabeth also took part in the dedication. 
 1895  Father Tolton had to go on leave of absence to regain his health and St. Monica was cared for by the priest of St. Elizabeth.  In June, Father Riordan wrote a letter "An Appeal on Behalf of the Black Catholics."  The letter published in the New World stated in part: 
As the colored Catholics are few in number, it was not expected that they would be able to meet the large expense necessary for the building of their church.... the church, though only partially built, is burdened with a very large debt, and I find myself greatly embarrassed in trying to meet even the current expenses.  During a whole year I have practiced the most rigid economy, and am now obliged, though reluctantly, to appeal to the public for assistance. 
 1897

 Father Tolton continued his work among Chicago's Black Catholics until sudden death from sunstroke on July 9th.  Father Riordan of St. Elizabeth took charge of St. Monica.

 1909  In December, Rev. John S. Morris was named pastor.  One of his first projects was to organize a reading, lecture, and social club. 
 1912

 Father Morris began to raise funds for a parish school.  He purchased the former barracks of the 8th Regiment located at 37th & Wabash, which was composed of Black soldiers who had fought in the Spanish American War

St. Monica School

Miss Elsie Hodges (later Mrs. Shepherd) suggested to Father Morris asking the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to help start St. Monica School.  Father Morris moved to an apartment on the northeast corner of 36th Place and Wabash.  Mother Katharine Drexel brought five sisters, and classes were held at 3669 S Wabash for the first year.

 1913  The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament took up residence in the rectory at 3669 S. Wabash Ave.  Father Morris bought a barn of the 8th Cavalry near Raymond School at 36th Place and Wabash.  They built four classrooms on the first floor.  Some two hundred students attended St. Monica the first year.  According to the New World the Black Catholic population of Chicago had increased from 50 families in 1889 to more than 400 families in 1913.  Still Black Catholics were a minority among the 50,000 blacks in the city
 1917  The women from Corpus Christi and St. Mel parishes sponsored a benefit for St. Monica's.  The goal was to raise $15,000, the amount due on the school and convent.  The school, which operated free of charge, had 250 children enrolled.  Father Morris was appointed to St. Ailbe Church and St. Monica was entrusted to the Divine Word Missionaries of Techny, IL.
 1918  The Archbishop's letter which was published in the New World on November 2, stated in part: 
Until now practically anyone who so desired could affiliate himself with St. Monica's, attend the services and receive the Sacraments there.  But now I desire St. Monica's to be reserved entirely for the colored Catholics of Chicago, and particularly of the South Side; all other Catholics of whatever race or color are to be requested not to intrude.  It is, of course, understood that I have no intention of excluding colored Catholics from any of the other churches in the diocese, and particularly if they live in another part of the city, but simply excluding from St. Monica's all but the colored Catholics. 
 1921  Rev. Reismann, SVD served as pastor until 1921, when Rev. Eckert, SVD was appointed pastor.
 1922  On April 28, the New World reported that more than 1200 persons attended Easter Mass in St. Monica Church.
 1924

 St. Monica consolidated with St. Elizabeth on December 6, and Father Eckert became pastor of St. Elizabeth. 

Between 1925 and 1928, enrollment in the parish grade school increased from 505 to 1,016 pupils.  A building at 4117 S. Michigan Ave. was fitted up as a convent. 

St. Elizabeth now becomes the "Mother" Black Catholic Church.

 1928  On April 27, the New World reported that Father Eckert had been placed in charge of preliminary plans for a hospital to be constructed in the close proximity to St. Elizabeth Church.  With the onset of the Depression the plans for a Pentecost hospital were abandoned.
 1930

 On January 3, St. Elizabeth Church was destroyed in a 4-11 alarm fire which raged for hours in subzero temperatures.  The assembly hall of St. Elizabeth parish at 24 East 41st street was remodeled to become the church.  Pews from the old church were installed.  Two murals were painted which reflected the heritage of Black Catholics; the subjects - St. Peter Claver and the Ugandan Martyrs

 1931  February 1 the newly refurbished church was dedicated.  At the time 920 children were enrolled in the grammar school and 70 students were enrolled in the high school.
 1932  Between 1921 to 1932 Father Eckert baptized 1782 adults at St. Monica and St. Elizabeth.
 1933  Father Eckert became pastor of St. Anselm, and Rev. Pawlowski, EVD succeeded him.


 
 
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