Catholic New World: Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Parish Pride

By Dolores Madlener

St. Elizabeth Parish

50 East 41st Street

Photo by: Sandy Bertog

Father Father Richard Andrus, SVD
Saturdays 4 p.m./ Sundays 8 & 10:30 a.m.; and 1 p.m.
Seating capacity:
(773) 268-1518
Parish founded:
Parish Website:

This parish, founded to serve the Irish in 1881, became the Black Mother Church of Chicago. By the 1920s the city’s population was divided by a color line. St. Monica, the nearby all-black parish founded in 1894, headed by the first African-American priest in the country, Father Augustus Tolton, merged with St. Elizabeth, whose white parishioners were moving away. St. Elizabeth’s school children today know the history of St. Mother Katharine Drexel’s Blessed Sacrament Sisters who taught at the school for generations, and the Divine Word Missionaries who have staffed the church since 1917. The present edifice, built in 1988, is a modern brick structure. Its pictorial history, in a brightly colored ceramic mural by Hungarian-born artist, Ildiko Repasi, hugs the outer walls. Since 2006 St. Elizabeth has welcomed some 125 families from Ghana, in Western Africa. The parish provides a Ghanian Mass at 1 p.m. on Sundays and a multi-cultural liturgy at 10:30 a.m. on the fourth Sunday. Parishioners get involved in this Bronzeville church’s spiritual, social and economic needs. A summer camp for youth stimulates art, culture and fun, while monthly jazz luncheons are helping to fund ongoing renovation projects.