A new Catholic Church near 103rd and Cicero! Back in July 1955, that wonderful news spread quickly through hundreds of Catholic homes in southern Oak Lawn. The issue of the New World of July 1, 1955, which carried the exciting news, announced that the Reverend Bernard E. Burns, formerly at Immaculate Conception parish in Highland Park, was appointed to form this new parish.
Since that time, many visitors from all parts of the Chicago area have come to view and admire the results of this hard-working combination. In fourteen months a school and a temporary Church stood on what had been a prarie. Within two and one-half year construction began on a new Convent and within five years, on a new Church. Even in this era of speed, few events can match this record-making building program. Rather than detail this inspiring story in volume, we will, instead, list the historical higlights of Saint Linus Parish, as these typify the probems and events leading to this dedication.
Thanks to Father Welsh, Pastor of neighboring St. Gerald's, who furnished the necessary articles, the first Mass in the new parish was celebrated in the Sward School on Sunday, July 24, 1955. At this time about 220 families lived in the parish. Not borrowed, however, was the parish spirit in evidence at this event, for we knew that it would not be long before we would be on our own in all parish matters.
On a cold November 20, 1955, in a Ceremony attended by hardy Parishioners, friends and village officials, Father Burns turned the first shovelful of dirt for our new school. All of this activity was constantly supervised by Father Burns. His muddy shoes became a symbol of our growing building and it became not difficult to find him due to the trail he usually made.
St. Linus School opened for 106 boys and 102 girls on September 10, 1956. Simply put - but only a few know the situation that existed until the desks were uncrated, chairs set up, debris cleaned away. Our men met the challenge and a clean and orderly school was ready for the youngsters on opening day. Even so, some workmen were still busy in sections of the school. They paid tribute to our children by commenting on their behavior during the workman's stay.
A Parish Trend
On June 23, 1957, the solemn dedication of our school and temporary church was held. Cardiinal Stritch presided and preached, endearing himself to the parishioners. How vividly we recall this Saintly Prince of the Church stopping the procession in order that he might personally bless the little children who, with their mothers, lined the processional route.
Bishop Hillinger celebrated a Solemn Mass, with Monsignor Reed as assistant priest, Father Lynch as Deacon, and Father Byrne as Subdeacon. All in all it was a wonderful day for St. Linus Parish, and a milestone in our history.
On June 7, 1959, thirty boys and girls graduated from St. Linus School. Our friend Bishop Hillinger presided, and another milestone was passed.
Beauty is simplicity. This is the case in St. Linus Church. Seating 1,400 plus, this large functional church manintains the majesty and dignity its purpose warrants and perfectly suits the needs of the Parish. Facilities include two "crying" rooms, two large sacristies, a choir loft, a baptistry which figures to get much use, and a large vestibule. Altars by Daprato follow the line of simplicity. The tower climbs to a height of 108 feet, and a reliable source advises that the Chicago "loop" may be seen from its top on a clear day.
Projecting on what has been accomplished in the brief span of six years, our future can be unlimited. We should and can harvest much from this Center of Catholicism in which we are privileged to belong. Some of our youngsters have already entered into Religious life and this is indeed an excellent reflection. The physical phase of our great effort is almost accomplished. The tools are in our hands. Teh concentration now is for the most part in spiritual areas in order to meet the challenge of this age of materialism. In this regard we are, as it were, a sleeping giant. Our potential in enormous. Our future is up to us.