Another parish is celebrating a milestone anniversary. The community of St. Andrew Chicago will commemorate their 90th anniversary on December 3.
90th Anniversary of St. Andrew Chicago
It’s a milestone year, and many communities are celebrating. Read on to learn about St. Andrew Chicago, the “lakefront” parish.
The early days of St. Andrew Chicago
The parish of St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago traces its history back to 1926. Father C.H. Demetry (Hadjidemetriou) hosted the very first Divine Liturgy on December 25, 1926 in a Masonic Temple at Winthrop and Hollywood on Chicago’s north side — just blocks from its current location. For his many good works, the Ecumenical Patriarch bestowed on him the title, “Teacher of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.
The Very Rev. Irenaios Tsourounakis was assigned to the parish in 1933. He shepherded the community through the lean years of the Great Depression. Father Irenaios taught Greek to the children. In 1937, he was elevated to Bishop of San Francisco.
Temporary priests served the community until 1940, when the Very Rev. Athenagoras Kokkinakis came to St. Andrew’s. Father Athenagoras led a period of tremendous growth. Under his leadership, the parish decided to acquire property at Sheridan and Hollywood, near the lake, where the church is located today. He left the community in 1945, to become the editor of the Orthodox Observer. In 1950, he became the second priest of St. Andrew’s to become a bishop.
Father George Mastrantonis came to St. Andrew’s in 1949. During his tenure, a portion of the present church property was purchased. Father George was a noted philanthropist and spread the word of God through his writings. He wrote pamphlets about the Orthodox Faith and was widely published. He planted the seed for what became the Hellenic Foundation in Chicago, which provides assistance to community members in need.
Building the church
Father John Hondras arrived at St. Andrew’s in 1953. By November, the community purchased the remainder of its current site. On March 30, 1955, His Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Nazianos officiated the “Agiasmos” service to bless the groundbreaking. Father Athenagoras returned to St. Andrew’s as Bishop Athenagoras, to lay the cornerstone. Inside, they placed a copper box containing information about the parish’s history. In 1956, the $1.5 million Holy Cross Chapel by the Lake was completed. While construction continued on the main church, Father John celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in the chapel on September 8,1956. That same year, they celebrated Divine Liturgy in the main church — though the church proper was not completed — on the feast day of St. Katherine. Interior adornments continued through 1960. Archbishop Iakovos consecrated the church in 1960.
In 1957, the parish hosted its first church picnic for parishioners. Now known as the Edgewater Greek Fest, it’s become one of the largest Greek festivals in the Chicagoland area. The fest takes place during the second weekend of July. This year’s 55th annual fest was the biggest and most successful ever.
Dr. Basil E. Stevens Greek School
A two-story classroom complex was added to the building. By 1961, Greek School and Sunday School classes took place there. The school was named Dr. Basil E. Stevens Greek School of St. Andrew Chicago, to honor a steward for his generation contributions to the church.
Father John Kutulas
Many St. Andrew’s parishioners remember fondly the arrival of Father John Kutulas as assistant priest in 1967. Five years later, Father John Hondros left, and Father John Kutulas became Proistamenos. For his distinguished service to his church as a priest, counselor, and confessor, the Ecumenical Patriarch bestowed Father John Kutulas as Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. At this time, Archbishop Iakovos also presented a relic of St. Andrew to the parish. After more than 30 years of service to St. Andrew’s, Father John Kutulas retired in 1998, but continued to serve as Proistamenos Emeritus. The entire Chicago community mourned Father John Kutulas’ passing this year.
Father John Kalomas
In 2004, Father John Kalomas left the community of Holy Cross in Justice, Illinois to become Proistamenos at St. Andrew’s Church. The dynamic priest has ushered in a new wave of enthusiasm to the parish. As Holy Cross grew under his tenure, so has St. Andrew’s.
Heart of the Edgewater community
St. Andrew Church is very active in its Edgewater neighborhood and the local Chamber of Commerce. Its facility is the site for many programs of other faiths as well as education initiatives. The Mather Foundation, which hosts luncheons and programs for seniors, holds their programs there. The Chicago Jewish Day School rents the classrooms, and Father John has often lectured about the similarities between Judaism and Orthodoxy. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago uses the facilities to host wheelchair basketball. For the past decade, IOCC hosts its walk/run at St. Andrew’s. The Council of Religious Leaders recognized St. Andrew’s for allowing the use of its facilities for so many diversified ethnicities and religious groups.
St. Andrew’s Chicago today
500 stewards call St. Andrew Church their spiritual home. There are many thriving ministries, including Greek School, Sunday School, Hope, Joy, GOYA, OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) of Loyola University, and more. Throughout the parish’s history, St. Andrew’s Women’s Philoptochos Society has assisted countless individuals and hosted many programs for the community. The parish hosts many events throughout the year for parishioners of all ages.
90th anniversary gala
Parishioners and friends of St. Andrew Chicago will celebrate the 90th anniversary with a Roaring 20s theme, on December 3, 2016 at Loews Chicago Hotel. A swing band, as well as Greek music, will highlight the event. MC is San Francisco Giants’ George N. Kontos. The pitcher grew up at St. Andrew, where he attended Greek school and served in the altar. Call the church for tickets.