Elk Grove Village, following the master plan developed and initiated by the Centex Corporation, quickly grew from a town of 156 people in 1956 to an incorporated city of over 35,000 residents in 2004. In the 1960s, many of these new residents were Catholic. The area west of Arlington Heights Road, occupied by cornfields and wetlands quickly disappeared and was replaced by streets, homes, parks, Alexian Brothers Hospital, Lake Cosman and several shopping areas. This rapid growth created a strong need for a Catholic church in the western portion of Elk Grove Village. In February 1967, the Archdioceses of Chicago addressed this need by acquiring 11 acres of land directly across Biesterfield Road from the Alexian Brothers Hospital. This, then, was to be the site of a second Catholic church in Elk Grove Village.
On May 15, 1968, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that a new parish had been established to serve the Catholic families living in the western portion of Elk Grove Village. Reverend James E. Shea was appointed to be the founding pastor. Father Shea took up temporary residence at Alexian Brothers Hospital and began the huge task of creating a new parish community. His initial effort involved approximately 170 families, many of whom were formally members of Queen of the Rosary Parish. However, that number grew very rapidly as new homes were completed and occupied in the western part of Elk Grove Village.
On Sunday, July 14, 1968, this new parish community celebrated their first series of masses at 8:30, 9:45 and 11 a.m. in the multipurpose room of Admiral Byrd Grad School. Masses were continued at this location until September 8 1968 when masses were initiated at Lively Junior High School. Religious education classes for elementary, junior high school and high school students were started in October, 1968 with the classes held at Admiral Byrd Elementary School and Lively Junior High School.
John Cardinal Cody announced on November 8, 1968, that Saint Julian Eymard had been chosen as the Patron Saint of this new parish. Saint Julian was born February 4, 1811 and ordained on July 20, 1834 in Grenolble, France. He was the Founder of the Congregation of Blessed Sacrament Fathers and is called the Modern Apostle of the Holy Eucharist. He died on August 1, 1868 at age 57. Saint Julian was Beatified on July 12, 1925 and canonized on December 9, 1962.
On November 29, 1968, a home at 506 Bristol Lane was purchased to serve as the Rectory, Chapel and meeting place or the parish. This was followed, one month later, by the establishment of the St. Julian Eymard’s Women’s Club and the election of Mrs. Mary Semrau as its first president. The Women’s Club has been a strong originator and supporter of many activities and events for the parish. The current president, Ana Schumann and her board continue to encourage their members to provide leadership and enthusiasm for the many activities and events that occur in Saint Julian Eymard Parish.
Father Shea hired Sister Rosemary Lynch, IBVM, as Coordinator of Religious Education in August, 1969. During her 11-year tenure, she initiated many religious education programs, recruiting and training parishioners to serve as teachers, aides and support volunteers. She was also very helpful in the development of parish adult religious education events. Sister Rosemary left St. Julian Eymard in March, 1980 to join the religious education staff of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Schaumburg.
Reverend Thomas Vitro was appointed as an Associate Pastor of St. Julian Eymard in June, 1973 to help Father Shea in administering to the needs of this rapidly growing parish. He was instrumental in the recruitment of Ralph Schumann as Music Coordinator and song leader in September, 1973. Father Vitro was also a very active participant and strong supporter of Father Shea’s efforts to raise funds for the construction on Saint Julian Eymard Catholic Church. He actively promoted and participated in the Saint Julian Eymard pledge campaign that started in November, 1976 and was still at our parish when the ground-breaking ceremony was held on July 17, 1977. On June 4, 1978, he was appointed Associate Pastor of Saint Edmunds Parish in Oak Park and left for that assignment.
Significant increases in the parish administrative workload due to the record parish growth, more programs, activities and staff created the need for a secretary to support the church and religious education efforts. Mrs. Kathleen Storinger was selected and hired for this position in August, 1974 and performed those duties through 2005 when she died. Mr. Edward Landeck was ordained as a permanent deacon on May 24, 1975 and was assigned to perform his responsibilities at Saint Julian just before the departure of Father Vitro.
However, Father Shea was not without an associate pastor for very long. Reverend Leon Rezula was appointed Associate Pastor on June 18, 1978. Father Rezula had been ordained in 1969 and served as an associate pastor at several parishes before being assigned to St. Julian. He was warmly welcomed by Father Shea and quickly assumed his new responsibilities in the parish.
The first Mass in the brand new Saint Julian Eymard Catholic Church located at 601 Biesterfield Road was celebrated on October 27, 1978. What a happy event that was for Father Shea, his staff, and all the parishioners who had worked so long and hard to see their dream realized. At long last, the days of setting up and taking down folding chairs in the multipurpose room of Lively Junior High School were over.
The joy in having its own parish church was quickly tempered on April 29, 1979 with the news of the death of the beloved founding pastor, Father Shea, after a short illness. He was in the 35th year of his priesthood and was loved by all. The parish was thankful that God allowed him to complete his dream for Saint Julian Eymard Catholic Church in Elk Grove Village.
Reverend John Dedek, ordained on May 3, 1955, was appointed as Pastor of St. Julian on May 3, 1979. He came to the church as pastor after many years as a theologian on he staff of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. His arrival occurred about the same time as the Church’s main entrance memorial sign along Biesterfield Road.
The official dedication of Saint Julian Eymard Catholic Church by John Cardinal Cody and other officials of the Archdiocese took place on August 1, 1979. It was a solemn, joyous ceremony witnessed and participated in by many parishioners who saw it as the last action in creating and blessing a house of worship.
In September, 1979, the Blessed Sacrament Fathers of Notre Dame donated a beautiful statue of Saint Julian Eymard which resides today by the main entrance memorial sign. The Blessed Sacrament Fathers o Notre Dame also donated the graceful statue of the Blessed Mother with the child Jesus that was placed in the garden on the east side of the church. In the same month, Mrs. Camille Hahn accepted the position of church secretary in order to assist in administering a workload that was required but had grown beyond the capability of the current staff. The Saint Julian Eymard Choir under the director of Mrs. Virginia Golemo was also formed and began participating in mass and other church events.
A special Christmas present for Saint Julian Eymard Church in 1979 was the ordination of Mr. William Kalivoda, a parishioner, as a Permanent Deacon. Bill devoted many hours of study and work to achieve his goal and had been a dedicated, supportive parish member for many years. His smile, gracefulness and open personality made him many friends at Saint Julian Eymard Parish.
Mrs. Joan O’Keefe joined the parish staff on May 25, 1980 as Director of Religious Education assuming the responsibilities formerly assigned to sister Rosemary Lynch.
The month of June 1980 brought another change to or religious staff. Father Leon Rezula, our Associate Pastor for two years was reassigned as Associate Pastor of Saint John the Evangelist in Streamwood. His contributions, guidance and support, working together with Father Shea and then Father Dedek, helped guide many parishioners to a stronger Catholic faith. Father John Pollard, ordained in1974, was assigned as Associate pastor later that month.
During a serious midsummer storm in July, 1980, the rectory was struck by lightning. Some parishioners jokingly commented that perhaps the Lord was sending a message to Father Dedek. Fortunately, the damage was not severe and was quickly repaired.
The 1982/83 fall and winter programs and activities were well underway when notification of the death of Edward Landeck, the first Deacon to serve the parish was received. Edward’s death came after a brief illness and was a surprise to everyone in our parish. Deacon Ed set a wonderful example with his sincerity and commitment to his appointed ministry. The parish family had lost a counselor and a friend – a man who could always find good I every person he met.
Several months later, Mr. Richard Gietl was ordained as a permanent deacon and assigned to Saint Julian parish. His ministerial activities were determined with Father Dedek and he quickly established himself within the parish.
In May, 1984, the parish benefits from an agreement made between Father Dedek and the Elk Grove Park District to increase the parking area on the east side of the church. The park district paid for the enlargement of the parking area by 60 parking spaces in return for its use of the lot for overflow crowds at the Pirates Cove facility located across the street from the church. The agreement does not interfere with Saturday evening or Sunday mass parking.
During July 1984, there were several more changes in the church staff. Mrs. Camille Hahn was appointed as Director of Religious Education replacing Joan O’Keefe who retired and returned to parish ministry at Saint Norbert Parish in Northbrook and Mrs. Flora Stomper was appointed as Church Business Manager.
In May 1985, Father John Pollard was appointed Associate Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chicago. Reverend Pollard, was greatly accepted during his five years as an associate pastor at St. Julian Eymard and left many friends who missed his challenging, yet supportive effort to improve the parish’s religious life.
The religious education classroom space was expanded in September, 1985 through the acquisition and use of portable walls in Shea Hall. In early 1986, a section of the rear church wall was removed to allow room for the construction of a permanent baptistery and a new altar mensa, tabernacle, and lectern were purchased for the altar.
Spring seems to bring religious staff changes and 1986/87 was no exception. Mr. James Connolly was ordained as a permanent deacon and assigned to the parish in April, 1986. One year later, Deacon Richard Gietl left the parish and moved to Glenarm, Illinois and Deacon Connolly resigned as permanent deacon. Mrs. Paula Hahn was also hired by Father Dedek in November, 1987, after creating a Coordinator of Lay Ministers position.
Construction of a 13 classroom building addition was initiated in April, 1988 and completed on June 30, 1988. This classroom space was critically needed in order to accommodate the significantincrease in students enrolled in parish religious education programs while reducing the class sizes for each grade. The new school building addition was dedicated by Bishop John Gorman Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, on September 11, 1988.
Paula Hahn retired as coordinator of lay ministers in August, 1988 and was temporarily replaced by Theresa Bergman. In November, 1988, Mrs. Barbara Rettberg accepted the permanent position of Coordinator of Lay Ministers. Mrs. Gail Carlson joined the parish administrative staff in May, 1989 as support staff to Camille Hahn, Director of Religious Education. Rettberg was then promoted to parish business manager replacing Stomper who retired in November 1989 after nine and a half years of service. Stomper later died in June, 1990 following a long illness.
Anthony and Terry Maiorella donated a statue of Pieta and vigil candle stands which was dedicated in the church vestibule on Thanksgiving Day, 1993.
In June 1994 Camille Hahn retired after 10 years of service and Mrs. Therese Bergmann was hired as Director of Religious Education. Mr. Anthony (Tony) Vallillo also joined the staff as Pastoral Assistant for funerals also in June, 1994. Mrs. Barbara Gersey joined the staff as Coordinator of Lay Ministers in June, 1995.
Deacon Bill Kalivoda retired in June, 1996 to accept a position as Chaplain at Villa Addolorata Retirement Geriactric Center. The building changes made in 1996 included new front doors and replacement ad striping of the church’s parking lot. The new bronze doors created a striking change to the front of the church.
In early 1997, Sue Olafson was hired as co-coordinator of lay ministers and in September John Slauson, Mary Ramsden, Tim Quistorff and Norma Garcia joined the staff as leaders of song. Mary Ann Pearson continued as leader of song for funerals.
A new church roof was installed in May, 1997. The roof over Shea Hall and the administrative offices were replaced in 1998. Additionally, the parking lot was resurfaced and an underground heated front entrance and rails were installed at the church’s front entrance.
The year 1998 started with the appoint of Mr. Jack Nolan as a permanent deacon for the parish. Father Dedek announced his retirement after 21 years of committed service to the church. His retirement plans included providing assistance with masses at Incarnation Parish in Palos Heights, while catching up on long overdue reading and writing. He was a tremendous leader and religious pastor.
The Archdiocesan pastor selection process included the opportunity of parish member input and was initiated in the fall, 1999. On November 1, 1999 the Archdiocese appointed and announced Reverend Leon Rezula as the new pastor of Saint Julian Eymard Parish. Father Rezula was the previous associate pastor from 1978 to 1980 and had familiarity with the parish and many of its parishioners.
The newly established Saint Julian Eymard Women’s Club held their first meeting in Shea Hall in July, 2000. (The guilds had undergone a dissolution process in May of 1980). Mrs. Susan Dompke was elected president and their program for the year was agreed upon and put into action. On December 23, 2000 Father John Dedek died unexpectedly after 45 years in the priesthood.