St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Chicago’s oldest African American Catholic parish, marked its 130th anniversary with a series of events that began Nov. 4.

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St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Chicago’s oldest African American Catholic parish, marked its 130th anniversary with a series of events that began Nov. 4.

“The birth of the Black Catholic community in Chicago took place in this parish,” said Rev. Richard Andrus, SVD, pastor of St. Elizabeth since 2000. “As our community grew and people moved to other neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side, many other Black Catholic parishes were born from those who migrated from here. They took with them the power of faith that started here.”

Located in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood, St. Elizabeth is the second oldest consecrated church in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“This parish has an illustrious history,” Fr. Andrus said. “St. Katharine Drexel, who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and Fr. Augustine Tolton, our country’s first African American priest, walked these streets. They played important roles in building this community and fostering positive race relations

throughout the United States.”

The Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary, the largest predominantly African American lay Catholic organization in the country, has its Chicago roots at St. Elizabeth. The parish’s local chapter was founded in 1930.

Today’s parish members carry on the tradition. Within the parish and through partnerships with community groups, the people of St. Elizabeth have founded several grassroots organizations. They include one of Chicago’s earliest African American credit unions; the Renaissance Collaborative, a collective effort by four ecumenical churches that provides housing for senior citizens, as well as people who strive to start new lives away from drugs and crime; and Neighbors Opposed to Weapons (NOW), a group that identifies tensions between street gangs and works to negotiation peace before violence erupts.

Commemorative events included a street dedication ceremony honoring Fr. Tolton, whose canonization process began last year; a banquet dinner; a Mass celebrated by Most Rev. Joseph Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago. Most Rev. Dominic Carmon, SVD, auxiliary bishop emeritus of New Orleans and former pastor of St. Elizabeth delivered the homily.

New Luther High School

Rev. Byron Williams of St. Paul Lutheran Church of Dallas will deliver “the preached word” when The New Luther High School, 3130 W. 87th St., hosts a Worship Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving for the completion of Phase I of its Martin Luther Square on Sunday, Nov. 13, 3 p.m. The theme of the service is “Come Join Us in Celebrating The Vision.”

After a decade of service at Trinity Lutheran Church in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Ninth Ward and scattered Trinity’s members. Rev. Williams returned reluctantly to Houston, Texas where he was born and raised. God showed that the body of Christ and the gospel are not bound by physical or political boundaries when he allowed Rev. Williams to become the pastor of St. Paul, where several of Trinity’s members had already been worshipping for months.

Rev. Williams is a husband, parent, pastor and patriot. He and his wife, Joyce, have raised two children and he has also served in the United States Army both at home and abroad in Germany.

ELLE, Family Christian Center

Dream Girls is the theme of this year’s annual women’s conference, Nov. 9-11, sponsored by ELLE, Family Christian Center’s Women’s Ministry at 340 W. 45th Ave. in Munster, Ind. where Revs. Steve and Melodye Munsey are senior pastors. The 5 p.m. opening service will feature Pastor Melodye as speaker, followed by Pastor Steve addressing the 7 p.m. service. On Thursday at 5:30 p.m. the ELLE Mall opens for shopping; at 6:45 p.m. FCC’s sanctuary doors open for a stimulating and thought-provoking 7 p.m. session with Christine Martin, whose life path has taken her from privilege to pain and back again. Friday’s 10 a.m. session will highlight Judy Lamborn of the St. Louis Dream Center, talking on The Passion of Dreaming Big.

After a lunch break, Dr. Susy Francis, licensed psychoanalyst, and Pastors Kent and Alli Munseu, who are living their dreams as leaders of City Church Chicago, will complete the list of inspiring speakers. On Friday evening, a black-tie benefit dinner will bring excitement, knowledge and an opportunity for face-to-face encounters as well as with God for each woman privileged to be part off this series. Registration is available online at, in person at the Info Desk in FCC’s lobby or call (219) 689-7171.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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