About Saint Christina
St. Christina was the youngest daughter of a wealthy Roman pagan who lived in the third century. When she was still a young girl, she came to believe in Jesus Christ. She broke up the gold and silver images of the pagan gods in her father’s house and sold the fragments to help the poor. Christina’s father became so angry that he beat her and threw her, with a stone around her neck, in the Lake of Bolsena where she was baptized by the Lord Himself. She was preserved from drowning and brought to the magistrate who put her to death for professing to be a Christian.
The beginning of the journey of St. Christina Parish began in the year 1921 when the Rev. Peter Geraghty saw the need for a Catholic church in the expanding Mt. Greenwood community and proceeded to purchase 2 and a half acres of land in the area around 111th Homan.
Families in the community sought to establish a parish with a permanent pastor, and with the help and assistance of an assembly of families, headed by a man named James Burns, Cardinal Mundelein granted permission for this request.
Cunningham school was the place where the first mass was said by Rev. Thomas Friel. He was the first appointed pastor of St. Christina.
Soon after, a portable church was constructed at 11023 South Homan. June 15, 1927 marked the special date that the Liturgy of the Word was shared in the new church building. This also was a significant time because it would be the first of many construction endeavors that would involve the men of the parish family.
It was during the pastorate responsibilities of Rev. J.A Rebedeau in September of 1929 that Mt. Greenwood experienced a population boom. For almost three decades the parish flourished under Rev. Rebedeau’s leadership. He expected the St. Christina community to go above and beyond the call of duty. They did not disappoint.
When a recreation center was needed the men of the parish rolled up their sleeves and went to work. This project began October 7, 1929 and was dedicated in December of that same year.
The following year attention was focused on the construction of a much needed Rectory. This parish project was also completed in a year’s time. It was dedicated December 7, 1930.
Next in line to be built was a brick church. On Christmas Day of 1935, Mass was celebrated in the brand new church on the same ground where the portable church had stood.
With the population of Mt. Greenwood growing in leaps and bounds it was obvious that the Christian community of St. Christina needed a school. On July 25, 1938, Father Rebedeau signed a fifteen year lease on the old Central Park school located on Central Park avenue. When the sisters of the Dominic were commissioned to teach the Catholic students, the former Mt. Greenwood school became St. Christina parochial school. On August 27,1938, Mother Geslaus arrived with her fellow Dominican sisters. When the new school welcomed the children of the parish on September 6, 1938 there were 173 pupils ready and eager to learn.
Rev. Rebedeau lived to see the building of the beautiful and stunning church that we utilize today. It comfortably accommodates 1,500 parishioners. This new church was dedicated by Cardinal Stritch on May 27, 1956.
Father John Ireland Gallery took over the post as pastor in April, 1958. The parish continued to grow and prosper under his direction. On Father Gallery’s 70th birthday he retired, leaving behind him 15 years of devoted service.
When Father Pavis joined the parish as pastor in January of 1973, there was much that needed to be done. Upgrades, refurbishing and general upkeep needed tending to and the list of repairs seemed to multiply while revenue couldn’t keep up with the demand. Father Pavis proved to be instrumental in creating funding solutions that kept the parish running smoothly and efficiently. His organizational skills were influential in motivating the parish family to prosper and grow under his leadership. During Father Pavis’ tenure fund raising events became a successful staple that kept St. Christina on firm financial ground.
By 1979, the Central Park buildings were torn down and the property is now a useful field for various parish functions.
The next thirteen years it was Father Curran who led the flock of Christian followers. Through the years the people of St. Christina have been an outgoing mix of humanity and compassion, all working together for the benefit of the community. The proof of its tight knit roots can be found in the generations of families who have grown up here and have stayed to raise their own children in the same neighborhood; the same Christian environment. There is a certain camaraderie that binds the people from past to present, to future.
In July, 1993, the sixth pastor chosen to head the church was one of our own. Father Martin O’Donovan, a former Mt. Greenwood resident, and St. Christina parishioner was now welcomed back as pastor in residence. For fifteen years his teachings by example were pivotal in reaching out from the pulpit to bring peace of heart through prayer and positive action. From betrayal to racism Father Marty dealt with it all with grace and conviction that openness, tolerance and forgiveness are powerful tools in overcoming negative situations. In July of 2008 we found ourselves saying good bye to our beloved Father Marty, our respected vicar, our friend.
Just when it was believed that no one could fill his shoes, in walked Father Sullivan and, without missing a beat, he has been embraced by the parish – his pastoral presence welcomed with hope and acceptance.
For over eighty years, the heart and soul of St. Christina has survived and thrived. Like so many church members before us we will continue to seek and grow – reaching new heights of possibilities while meeting new challenges with optimism and courage.