Archbishop to preside over celebration at St. Cornelius


Archbishop Blase Cupich will preside over a mass celebrating the 90th anniversary of Saint Cornelius Parish at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 18.

In 1925 the Archdiocese of Chicago created a new parish to better serve the English-speaking residents in Jefferson Park, according to the parish Web site. The area had been part of the Our Lady of Victory Parish, which was founded in 1906, but the growing Catholic population on the Northwest Side led to the opening of several new churches.

"Saint Cornelius has served generations of Catholics who have made Jefferson Park their home," the Web site states. "It has also supported the neighborhood through community-wide fall events and is a source of charitable service through its organizations such as the food pantry."

Saint Cornelius celebrated its first mass at Beaubien School, 5025 N. Laramie Ave., on Oct. 4, 1925, and a year later a dedication ceremony was held for the parish’s first church, which also housed the school and the convent. A bungalow on Lieb Avenue served as the rectory and living quarters for the priests.

The existing church, at 5430 W. Foster Ave., was built in the mid-1960s after the archdiocese acquired additional land for the parish. During the 1980s parish membership grew to about 2,500 families, but the total now is about one-third of that, according to the Web site.

Parish member Kathy Annunzio said that the parish has served generations of her family.

"In the 1950s my mom, dad and five siblings attended mass in the previous church building, and four of us attended Saint Cornelius School," Annunzio said. "Our Catholic faith was a very important part of our family life. When I married I returned to the parish and sent my two children to Saint Cornelius School for a wonderful Catholic education."

The school closed this year. The parish is now affiliated with the new Pope Francis Global Academy, which has campuses at Saint Tarcissus School, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave., and Saint Pascal School, 6143 W. Irving Park Road.

A senior group-living facility is planned for the parish’ s convent. Point In Time is planning to open a model next year in the convent at Our Lady of Victory Church, 5212 W. Agatite Ave., and it also will use the model to promote its facility at Saint Cornelius, according to a company official.

The school building remains for lease.

"Although many things have changed recently, I and many other members of the Jefferson Park community will continue to rely on Saint Cornelius for our spiritual needs as well as opportunities to give back to our church and community," Annunzio said.

Saint Cornelius pastor the Reverend Daniel Fallon said that graduates of the school and past workers for the church are invited to the anniversary celebration. "Hopefully this will enliven the spirit of the parish," Fallon said. "We’ve been through a lot the last couple of years."

The anniversary mass will be followed by a picnic on parish grounds, and a "Bicycle Ambassadors" presentation is scheduled for 1 p.m. Food, beer, wine and other beverages will be sold, and Lieb will be closed for the event.