|| St. Jerome Parish History
In the early days of Rogers Park, the few Catholics had two alternatives for Sunday Mass: St. Henry Church at Ridge and Devon and St.
Mary’s in Evanston.
In 1893 when a committee approached the pastor of St. Mary’s to ask if he might send a priest to say Mass in Rogers Park on Sundays.
Peter Philip offered his store at Ravenswood and Lunt as a site.
In the spring of 1894, the strong Catholic spirit of the little community led to the formation of a new parish. Plans were drawn, property
acquired, and a little wooden church dedicated to St. Jerome, which was quickly constructed at Morse and Paulina.
The First Mass at St. Jerome was celebrated by Fr. Hugh P. Smythe, pastor of St. Mary’s, on September 11, 1894. The appointment of
the first pastor was not until May of 1895, Fr.Arthur Lonergan. Tied in with the population growth, new parishes were established by
St. Jerome and St. Henry. St. Ignatius was established in 1907, St. Gertrude’s in 1912, St. Margaret Mary in 1921, and St. Timothy in
The History of St. Jerome Parish quickly became a story of growth, as the needs of the booming population were served with a school,
and several expansions. Nonetheless, St. Jerome Parish continued to grow as the population of Catholics increased. In the late 1960s,
there were more than 9,000 parishioners and more than 3,000 registered families.
The current era of St. Jerome really began in the early 1960s. Massive changes were done, and it included the use of native languages,
rather than Latin for mass; the turning of the altar so that the priest faced the people, and a greatly increased role for the laity.
We were among the first to have a parish school board, a pastoral council, and lay lectors. Later, lay Eucharistic ministers were added.
These ministries were opened to women.
In the early of 1960s, efforts to serve the growing Hispanic population of Chicago, many priests began to study Spanish, and St.
Jerome was eventually served by bilingual priests.
The parish is composed of many different ethnic communities who are gradually working together to integrate their cultures and
The English speaking community, a rainbow of races and ethnic backgrounds, and a mixture of long time residents who attend English
language Masses on the weekdays and on Saturday morning and afternoon and on Sunday mornings. They have a long history of
active involvement and strong faith.
The growing Hispanic communities who attend three Spanish language masses each Sunday are a young and very active group. More
than 50 teenagers participate in youth programs and more than 60 children attend The Holy Childhood Association.
The future is certain to bring more change. New immigrants may well bring new languages and customs, and repeat the cycles of the
But the common thread that brings us and keeps us together – our shared faith – will not change.
Our Patron Saint
St. Jerome was born is Dalmatia in about 340 A.D. In Rome, where he was baptized at the age of 18, he studied his faith and the living
languages of his era, especially Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.
After years of study, Jerome set out for Palestine, were he spent some years in seclusion and prayer. He was ordained in 380, and
then settled in Bethlehem where he devoted himself to the task of translating the Old and New Testaments from Hebrew and Greek
into Latin. This Vulgate Edition was welcomed by his contemporaries, for Latin was then the universal language.
Jerome died in Bethlehem in 420. He was later named Confessor (one who has given heroic testimony to the faith) and Doctor of the
Church (a writer known for his brilliant exposition and skillful defense of doctrine). His feast day is September 30.