Nestled in the shadows of Chicago's tall skyscrapers and a matrix of highways, lies the Croatian parish of St. Jerome. Embedded in one of Chicago’s oldest ethnic neighborhoods, the church has stood as a proud beacon ministering to Croatian immigrants and their families since the early 1900s. Like many unique ethnic parishes in the U.S., it has served as a refuge to preserve faith, family and identity. At its core - a continuous mission to remind its flock that for every journey - they were not alone. This is the story of their centennial path.
DID YOU KNOW...
The 18th Century Croatian tradition of honoring the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Velika Gospa) on August 15th, was organized by the Croatians of Bridgeport and Armour Square in 1906. St. Jerome's continues the legacy today, making it the oldest procession in the City of Chicago which is still celebrated on the same day and along the same route since it first began more than a century ago.
Croatian Franciscans established the church in 1912 and continue to minister to this day. Its first location was the old German Evangelical Church of St. Stephen's on 25th St. and Wentworth Ave. - now a slab of cement under the shadows of the Stevenson Expressway. The church moved in 1922 into the old Swedish Salem Lutheran Church on 2823 S. Princeton Ave.
St. Jerome Catholic School was founded in 1922. Nuns from the order of the Adorers of the Precious Blood of Christ were brought over from Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina to help teach and minister at the school and parish. The school continues to educate children from pre-school through Grade 8.
Former Chicago Mayor and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Michael A. Bilandic was a former student and parishioner of St. Jerome's.
Mayor Richard J. Daley, Mayor Richard M. Daley and other government officials have walked the route of Velika Gospa.