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History of our Parishes

St. Bede
The 1950′s were a time of tremendous population growth, the now famous “baby boom.”  Soldiers returning from World War II began families.  By the early fifties a sizable number of these young families desperately sought adequate housing and good schools for their growing families.  Small homes were mass-produced to provide comfortable, affordable housing.  In this context, the Catholic parish of St. Bede the Venerable was established in June of 1953.

St. Bede the Venerable Parish was canonically established on July 7, 1953.  The first Mass was celebrated on July 12th, 1953 in a warehouse at 8333 S. Cicero Ave., which had once served as a hangar of the Ashburn Airport.

The original St. Bede the Venerable Church, now St. Bede Gym, was opened for Mass on June 22, 1955.  That same year, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet opened the parish school.  On September 11, 1955, 300 pupils were enrolled.  On October 6, 1955 construction began on the present rectory at 8200 S. Kostner Avenue.

The 1955 construction of the church and school was the impetus for exponential growth and expansion.  Within one year, it was necessary to build an addition to the school to accommodate the growing number of school age children who had moved into the area.  The three-year-old parish had grown to 1500 families and the school had an enrollment of 480 children.  Ground was broken for an additional twelve classrooms on September 6, 1956.  On May 19, 1957 Samuel Cardinal Stritch dedicated the new church, school, convent and rectory.  The construction of single family homes continued and soon the parish registered more than 2,000 families.  By 1959, the school had outgrown its facilities and construction began on an additional eight classrooms and an auditorium to accommodate the overflow crowds that could not fit into the church for Sunday Masses.

By 1961 St. Bede the Venerable Parish had 2,300 families and a school enrollment of 1,900 children.  Ground was broken for a new church on the Northwest corner of 83rd and Kostner.  The school enrollment at this time was 1,635 children under the direction of 18 Sisters of St. Joseph and 18 lay teachers.

In 1996, the Sisters of St. Joseph withdrew from the parish.  The school with an enrollment of just under 1000, was totally managed and staffed by laymen and laywomen. The spirit of dedication and commitment of the founding sisters continues in their successors.

St. Denis

Established in 1951, our beautiful parish church was dedicated on the feast of St. Denis-October 9th- in 1966. The story of St. Denis parish however begins fifteen years earlier. In 1950 not many people lived in the Ashburn area. Open spaces and prairies were the rule. By 1960 they were mostly gone, replaced by the houses in which many of us live today or lived then. The first Mass of the parish was celebrated in 1951 at Owen School. By the end of that year, the "Quonset Hut" church was up and running and busy. Social activities and fundraisers were common place to provide the funding for school, convent, rectory, and church construction. St. Denis School opened under the direction of the Adrian Dominicans. This religious community of women still serves St. Denis today. Many thousands of children enjoyed a St. Denis education until its closing in 2002. The Second Vatican Council ushered in a new era of lay participation and engagement with the world.