Festival to mark St. Joe’s centennial
By REBECCA SUSMARSKI email@example.com May 31, 2012 10:22PM
Members of the Centennial Fest Committee Marge and Jack Hayes, John Ligda and Joe Santschi pose for picture outside St. Joseph's Church in Homewood, Illinois, Wednesday, May 30, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:44AM
The centennial of the Titanic’s sinking may have been the focus of national attention this year, but Homewood residents know of another centennial of a much happier occasion.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Parish in Homewood turns 100 this year and is celebrating by hosting a community festival 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the church’s north parking lot, 17949 Dixie Highway.
“I think everyone is getting really excited as the event gets closer,” said 73-year-old Jack Hayes, a member of the parish’s Centennial Fest Committee. “We’re hoping people will come and recognize all that the parish has given them.”
The celebration begins with a noon Mass led by Cardinal Francis George followed by the blessing of the crucifix in front of the church, as well as a time capsule.
The festival will feature children’s games, a bean bag tossing contest and music by Bill Hogan and Xtra-Xtra. Aurelio’s Pizza, Belagio Restaurant, 5th Quarter and Press Room Eatery and Sweet Annie’s Everyday Treats will sell food.
“I hope the fest brings back a lot of memories and makes people feel blessed (regarding) everything that has taken place in the last 100 years,” said 30-year-old John Ligda, the parish’s director of music.
Much certainly has happened within those 100 years. The parish began in January of 1912, when the Rev. Armand Martin used the village hall’s meeting room to say Mass on Sunday mornings. By the end of the year, the parish had its own church building that stood until 1955 when a larger church was built just south of the original structure.
In 1926, the Rev. Stephen Sullivan led the parish in founding St. Joseph’s Catholic School. Sullivan also demonstrated the church’s spirit of giving through charity activities, including giving food and monetary donations to the poor during the Great Depression.
“I think people who aren’t even members of St. Joseph’s know the impact the parish has had on the community for the past 100 years,” Ligda said.
Joe Santschi, a member of the parish’s Centennial Fest Committee, said some current parishioners have ancestors who became members of the parish at its founding.
“My wife and I and all three of our children went to St. Joe’s,” said Santschi, who joined in 1968. “It’s a generational parish.”
“It shows that through a history that has encompassed world wars and a great depression — and more recently an unprecedented recession — is that the one thing that people have in common with each other is the sharing of their faith and the sharing of their beliefs,” Hayes said.
Santschi said the Rev. Richard Kozak, pastor, and the Rev. Daniel Jarosewic, associate pastor, play a vital role in keeping the St. Joseph’s community together.
Their personas are unifying, Santschi said. “Every Sunday after the Gospel is read, both give you something to think about.”
After Sunday’s festival, the centennial celebration will continue with a concert by St. Joseph’s choirs on Sept. 23 and a dinner-dance on Oct. 6 at the Olympia Fields Country Club. The parish celebration will conclude with a Nov. 21 Thanksgiving service.
For now, however, Ligda is hoping Sunday’s fest will bring “all the people of Homewood and St. Joseph’s together for a day of fun and reflection.”
“As a whole the community really rallies around one another, and likewise will rally around the church and its anniversary,” Ligda said. “I hope that it will be a moving experience and something that people will remember for years to come.”