To anticipate the needs of Catholics moving into North Oak Park and the Galewood section of Chicago, George Cardinal Mundelein established a new parish. Property known as Kelly’s farm was purchased and Rev. Lawrence W. Frawley was appointed pastor of St. Giles on June 17, 1927. On August 7 three hundred adults attended mass for the first time in a temporary building on Greenfield Street between Linden and Columbian Avenues.
Father Frawley and his parishioners decided that the first permanent building was to be a school, for no parochial work is more important than the spiritual and mental molding of children. The first floor of the new building was used for a church with a seating capacity of 600. On the second floor, six classrooms accommodated 340 pupils. Fifteen months after he named the parish, Cardinal Mundelein returned to St. Giles to dedicate the new building on the Feast of Christ the King, October 28, 1928.
The school was put under the direction of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, who maintained a parish presence for seventy years. Four sisters taught the seventy-five pupils enrolled for the first term. By 1933 the school had grown so much that more sisters were needed and a new convent was built as a permanent home for the sisters.
In 1938 plans were made to build a new church and Cardinal Mundelein laid the cornerstone of our present church edifice in July of 1938. At that time only four walls and a temporary ceiling were constructed. In 1946 parishioners decided to build the windows and a permanent roof, and to finish the interior of the church in a fitting manner. The Second World War interrupted production of many of the decorative elements called for by the plan, and work didn’t actually begin until June 1948. Samuel Cardinal Stritch dedicated the church on May 14, 1950.
Continued growth of the parish led to additional construction for classroom space. In September, 1954, Cardinal Stritch dedicated the Rev. Joseph E. Corrigan Building on Linden Avenue. And the Rt. Rev. Msgr. James D. Gleeson Building on the corner of Greenfield and Columbian was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1960.
In 1964 Rt. Rev. Msgr. James D. Gleeson succeeded Monsignor Frawley. During Monsignor Gleeson’s pastorate the parish implemented the liturgical changes decreed by the Second Vatican Council. The main altar with its marble mosaic was relocated in a prominent forward position along with other modifications that opened up the sanctuary space. Monsignor Gleeson retired in 1972 and moved to Florida where he died on November 24, 1992.
John Cardinal Cody appointed Rev. Thomas B. McDonough as St. Giles’ third pastor. To accommodate the ever-increasing need for more space for meetings and the various spiritual and social events held at the parish, a second floor was added onto the Gleeson Building. Archbishop Joseph Bernardin dedicated the new Guildhall on January 7, 1983. After Fr. McDonough’s death in 1989, the Women’s Guild of the Tabernacle (now the St. Giles Council of Catholic Women) renamed the Guild Hall as McDonough Hall.
In June 1989, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin appointed Reverend Joseph Edward Corrigan to be pastor of St. Giles. Under his pastorate St. Giles began a three-year program “To Restore the Gift.” The buildings and spaces of St. Giles Parish are a gift from our predecessors through their hard work and sacrifice. But time and use had taken their toll on our parish facilities. Parishioners pledged over $750,000 to be used to restore our beautiful buildings.
On September 1, 1994, the Feast of St. Giles, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin appointed Reverend Thomas M. Dore after Fr. Corrigan’s sudden death in February. Ordained on May 1, 1961, Fr. Dore was installed as pastor November 20, 1994 by Bishop Thad Jakubowski. Fr. Dore completed the three-year “To Restore the Gift” Campaign begun by Fr. Corrigan and instituted the “Call to Excellence,” a Capital Fund Appeal to continue the repair and upgrading of parish facilities.
In the fall of 1995, Fr. Dore invited and encouraged the parishioners to live the “Stewardship Way of Life” as members of the Household of God, thus rooting parish life on the foundation of faith and not merely on need. By acknowledging God’s total love, each person is called to share gratefully and generously the God-given gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure with the parish and wider community.
As the new millennium and the parish’s 75th anniversary approached, 2000-2002, the Parish Pastoral Council initiated a three-phase strategic planning process to establish a clear focus for the parish’s future: 1) a needs assessment program; 2) a practical vision for the future of St. Giles Parish; 3) an action phase, which is an ongoing process that will move us toward making the vision a reality.
Project Inspire: “BE INSPIRED”
In the summer of 2000 the St. Giles Parish Pastoral Council developed and implemented Summer of Listening and Reflecting (SOLAR). This process was designed to include the whole parish community in planning for the future of St. Giles.
Throughout the summer small groups met in Parishioner’s homes to voice their feelings as to what was going well at St. Giles, what needed improvement and what was their vision for the future. All comments, concerns and suggestions were collated, put into a report and then distributed to the parish community in the summer of 2001.
The next step was to create a Strategic Plan to address the concerns, needs and visions identified by the SOLAR process. Stewards Planning A Renewed Community (SPARC) was born and approximately 30 ministries and organizations developed goals and action plans to support the identified parish goals. All plans were compiled and a summary was distributed to the parish in November of 2002.
In early 2003, the vision of a Stewardship Parish as expressed by Fr. Dore and the planning process came together in the Good Gift Appeal. One of the dreams of the parish community identified in the strategic planning process was the renovation of the former convent building into usable space for our ever-growing parish ministries. That dream was fulfilled in September 2004 as a major component of The Good Gift Appeal. The renovated building houses parish offices, a Parish “living room” and library, meeting space for parish ministries and the school computer lab, art room, library and Spanish room.
The Strategic Plan was implemented and many goals were successfully completed, but the lack of a parish structure that oversees ministries and organizations made it difficult for follow-up. Communication among the parish staff, pastoral council, organizations and ministries was lacking making it difficult to move forward in a cohesive manner.
In 2005, parishes of the Archdiocese were invited to consider participating in what is called the INSPIRE process (Identify, Nurture and Sustain Pastoral Imagination through Resources of Excellence). This project is funded by the Lilly Endowment and co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago and Loyola University. In our application the parish staff stated the need that had been made clear in the parish wide SOLAR and SPARC process: to design a structure and a system for better communication, collaboration, accountability and mutual awareness for the many ministries and organizations and themselves, and with the parish staff and parishioners at large.
During the next four years the staff and four parishioners were guided by facilitators from the INSPIRE program who led us through readings, workshops, discussions, meetings and prayer. Through that process we came to the awareness that, if we are to design a more effective means of communication and collaboration that will enable our parish community to build God’s kingdom among us, the essential components are well formed lay leadership and a more specifically focused clustering of our parish’s ministries and organizations.
On February 1, 2009, we formalized the results of this process when we commissioned the seven Leadership Teams responsible for the seven areas of parish life. As we begin to implement this new plan of communication and collaboration our prayer is that it will enable all of us to fulfill more effectively the mission entrusted to us by God: The building of God’s Kingdom among us.
OUR SIXTH PASTOR
On July 3, 2009, Father Carl Morello began his ministry as the Sixth Pastor of Saint Giles Parish.
Father Carl was ordained on May 7th, 1983 and spent the first six years in ministry as the Associate Pastor of Saint Priscilla Parish in Chicago. In 1989, he was transferred to Saint Paul of the Cross Parish in Park Ridge, where he spent six years also as an associate. Then, after the retirement of the Pastor, Father Joseph Kinane whom he served under, he was named as Father Joe’s successor! He served as Pastor at Saint Paul’s for the next twelve years. When his assignment there was finished he was named as Pastor here at Saint Giles.
Ironically, Father Carl grew up in the neighboring suburb of Forest Park. Saint Bernardine Parish was his home parish. He was a graduate of Saint Bernardine School and celebrated his First Mass as a newly ordained priest in the parish church. He attended Proviso East High School with his twin brother Michael. From there he went on to Niles College Seminary, and then on to Saint Mary of the Lake University where he was in the last class to be ordained in the chapel there on May 7th, 1983.
Father Carl’s first pastor, Father Don Ahern, whom he served under when he was a deacon at Saint Juliana Parish preparing for ordination, gave him some of the best advice ever. His words of wisdom have served Father Carl well over the past years. He told Father Carl, “love your people and they will always love you back!” These words have served Father Carl well at Saint Juliana, Saint Priscilla and Saint Paul of the Cross Parishes. He intends to follow them and do the same here in his new home of Saint Giles Parish.
Countless men, women and children have been introduced to the faith, have celebrated the sacraments, and have found friendships and encouragement within the walls of our parish buildings and within the hearts of the people who are the “Church” of St. Giles – people who have worked and sacrificed, laughed and cried together in order to create community that gives praise and thanks to God. Over the decades, parishioners have expressed their faith through generous gifts of time, talent and treasure to local, national and international causes. Samuel Cardinal Stritch summed up the history of the parish when he spoke these words at the parish’s 25th anniversary: “From a farmland and in its shadow these beautiful buildings – this is the story… If you search for miracles, this is the one. A miracle of charity and sacrifice.”