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St. Andrew the Apostle Church was the first Catholic parish established in Calumet City, which was named Sobieski Park by early Polish residents. Although the town was later called West Hammond, it was incorporated as Calumet City on Aug. 1, 1911

The foundation of a church was laid on Sept. 27, 1891 by Rev. Francis Gordon, CR, acting principal of St. Stanislaus College in Chicago. The land on which this church eventually was built had been donated by the real estate firm of Reed and Stevens in an attempt to populate the area.

The parish was not organized until Feb. 25, 1892, when Rev. Francis M. Wojtalewicz was appointed pastor. He came to Sobieski Park from Downers Grove, IL, where he had organized the mission of St. Mary of Gostyn (now in the Joliet diocese).

With the help of 34 Polish families, Father Wojtalewicz was able to complete the construction of St. Andrew Church at a cost of nearly $8,000. Unfortunately, a tornado on June 13, 1892 destroyed the frame structure. Undaunted, the pastor and his parishioners began the task of rebuilding the church-this time with bricks. With the lumber from the frame church, a rectory was constructed at a cost of $1,400.

On Sept. 24, 1892 The New World reported: "The new Polish Parish at Hammond will be known as St. Andrew's. The pastor, Rev. J. Wojtalewicz, is building a brick church which he hopes to occupy this fall."

On May 14, 1893, Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan dedicated the church. St. Andrew school was built in July 1893, but it did not open until the following year.

From 1893 to 1896, St. Columba Church in Hegewisch on the far southeast side of Chicago was a mission of the Polish parish in Calumet City.

On Sept. 1, 1894, The New World reported that about 80 children had registered to attend St. Andrew school which was staffed by "two competent teachers teaching English, Polish, and other branches common to elementary schools." By August 1895, 150 families belonged to the parish with 110 children enrolled in the school.

Father Wojtalewicz was appointed pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in South Chicago in September 1895. His successor, Rev. Victor Zalewski, had been pastor of Immaculate Conception Church since Jan. 13, 1894. Unfortunately, Father Zalewski was able to serve the people of St. Andrew the Apostle parish for only a few months. He died on May 16, 1896 at the age of 36.

Rev. Francis Byrgier succeeded Father Zalewski as pastor. About this time, the Sisters of St. Francis from Lafayette, Ind. agreed to staff the parish school which had been enlarged to accommodate the growing number of school age children in Sobieski Park.

On Oct. 23, 1901, a fire destroyed the G. H. Hammond meatpacking company which had been a major source of employment in the town. As a result, half of the 400 families of St. Andrew the Apostle parish moved to Chicago when the meatpacking plants were relocated.

Following Father Byrgier's death on Dec. 15, 1901, Rev. Boleslaus Nowakowski was appointed pastor. Father Nowakowski had been pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Church which was then located at 37th and Charleston (later Justine) St. on the south side of Chicago.

In 1908, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth began their work in St. Andrew the Apostle parish. At first the Sisters resided in a private home but in 1911, they moved into a permanent convent. A new school and the present rectory at 768 Lincoln Ave. were constructed in 1914.

On Jan. 27, 1918, St. Andrew the Apostle Church was once again destroyed-this time by fire. Until the present edifice was built in 1931, the congregation worshipped in the basement of the school building.
In 1921, Father Nowakowski was appointed pastor of St. Ladislaus Church on the northwest side of Chicago and Rev. Anthony Halgas was named pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Church. Father Halgas had been the first resident pastor of St. Ladislaus parish.

By 1925, 765 students were enrolled in the school under the direction of 11 Sisters of Nazareth. In that year, St. Victor Church was organized at Hirsch and Memorial Dr. in Calumet City.

Under Father Halgas' leadership, a building fund was established for a new church. In 1928, Father Halgas was named a Papal Chamberlain with the title Very Reverend Monsignor.

On July 27, 1930, Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. Sheil laid the cornerstone of St. Andrew the Apostle Church which was constructed at 155th Pl. and Lincoln Ave. The Romanesque structure, designed by the architectural firm of Sandel and Strong, was dedicated on Oct. 18, 1931 by George Cardinal Mundelein.

In the spring of 1932, Msgr. Halgas was appointed pastor of the Polish parish of St. Casimir in Chicago. His successor was Rev. Joseph Sehnke, who had been pastor of St. Joseph Church in Summit, IL
When Father Sehnke began his long pastorate on May 8, 1932, approximately 800 families belonged to the parish.

On Oct. 11, 1942, Archbishop Samuel A. Stritch presided at the golden jubilee of the founding of St. Andrew the Apostle parish. With the generous support of his parishioners, Father Sehnke was able to pay off the $200,000 parish debt by Nov. 30, 1945, the feast day of St. Andrew.
In August 1947, the parish was faced with the financial burden of reconstructing the twin towers of the church which had been declared structurally unsafe. The entire project was completed at a cost of $100,000.

In 1949, Father Sehnke was named a Papal Chamberlain with the title Very Reverend Monsignor. Under his leadership, beautiful stained glass windows were installed in the church. Included in the renovation program were four new marble altars which were dedicated by Cardinal Stritch on Sept. 25, 1955.

A third Catholic parish, Our Lady of Knock, was organized in July 1957 on Hirsch St. near 163rd St. in Calumet City.

Through the generosity of the people of St. Andrew parish, Msgr. Sehnke was able to finance the construction of a new school at 331 155th p1. Albert Cardinal Meyer dedicated the modern two story brick school on Sept. 27, 1961. The old school was razed and a gymnasium was added to the new structure.

Msgr. Sehnke died on Mar. 3, 1962 at the age of 74. His successor was Rev. Edward S. Krakowski, who came to Calumet City from the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago where had been pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church. Father Krakowski had served as an assistant at St. Andrew Church from 1944 to 1946.

In 1962, enrollment in the parish school numbered 706 students under the direction of 11 Sisters of Nazareth and five lay teachers.

Father Krakowski celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination on Apr. 23, 1967. Auxiliary Bishop Aloysius J. Wycislo presided at the special Mass and more than 600 friends and parishioners attended a testimonial dinner in the parish hall.

Under Father Krakowski's leadership, many improvements were made in the parish plant prior to the 75th jubilee, which was celebrated on Nov. 5, 1967.

Named pastor emeritus in July 1973, Father Krakowski died on Apr. 16, 1976 at the age of 72. His successor, Rev. Ervin R. Wysocki, was very familiar with St. Andrew the Apostle parish, having served as an associate pastor for seven years.

Although St. Andrew remains a predominantly Polish parish, Irish and Italian families are also members of the congregation. A national parish, it serves families who live in the area bounded by Burnham, Ill, on the north; the Cook-Will County Line on the south; the Calumet expy. on the west; and the Illinois-Indiana State Line on the east. Parish membership has increased steadily in recent years, from 1,310 families in 1971 to 1,530 families in 1978. Enrollment in the parish school has stabilized at about 475 students.

Active parish organizations include the St. Andrew the Apostle School Board, Holy Name Society, Catholic Woman's Club, Rosary Confraternity, Apostleship of Prayer, CCD, and a scouting program. Associate pastors include Rev. Thaddeus Z. Duda and Rev. Raymond M. Pacholski. Robert Banet and Edward Cwalinski serve as permanent deacons.

From "A History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1980

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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