THE HISTORY OF OUR PARISH
1948 – 1974
The church of the Holy Taxiarhai was organized by a handful of Greek Orthodox immigrants in the late 1940s. The parish existed on the northwest side of Chicago, but had a difficult time taking an active foothold.
In 1951, a young priest named Father Chrysostomos Economakos was recruited to the parish. In memory of his father’s patron saint, Father Economakos asked that the name of Saint Haralambos be added to the church’s name. The parish of the Holy Taxiarhai and Saint Haralambos was officially incorporated as a Greek Orthodox church in 1951. Services were held in a former Protestant church located on North Richmond Avenue.
Having been born in Greece, Father Economakos wanted the children of the parish, including his own, to learn the language, culture, faith and heritage of his homeland. In September of 1951, the Aristotle Greek School was founded. Five years later, the facilities on Richmond had been outgrown. The church was sold, and the parish purchased a former Jewish temple on North California in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. The change in location gave the church more space and it attracted new families. Aristotle Greek School was housed in the adjacent building, and enrollment tripled.
By 1962, within six years of the purchase, the mortgage was retired.
By 1964, the community center had been completely renovated.
By 1968, the exterior of the church had been restored.
By 1970, the iconography of the church had been completed.
1975 – 1987
By 1975, the church in Humboldt Park had been sold. Without a permanent home, the parish rented space at the Edgebrook Community Lutheran Church and at Saint Michael’s Carpatho Russian Orthodox Church in Niles. At first, it was a struggle to adjust to the new location.
Father Ioakim Yialouris and Father Athenagoras Aneste, serving as parish priests until 1978, helped the parish transition into its new location. By 1978, with the assistance from Mayor Nicholas Blase of Niles, Father Aneste found a parcel of land on Caldwell Avenue.
Reverend George Phillipas was assigned as the new priest and served at Saint Haralambos until 1982. Many families had moved to other Greek Orthodox churches in the area, but a handful of 60 families decided to make this the permanent home of the parish of Holy Taxiarhai and Saint Haralambos.
In August of 1982, Reverend Constantine Botsis was assigned as an interim priest. Forty years later, Father Dean still serves as our Proistamenos today.
By the end of 1983, the parish had grown from 60 to 120 families.
By June of 1983, the building which housed the Aristotle Greek School and Sunday School was demolished, and construction of the new community center had begun. In June of 1984, the new community center was officially opened.
New families living in the surrounding areas now started to flock to the previously unknown parish. The Aristotle Greek School resumed classes in the new facility. GOYA was established as the parish’s youth group and our Philoptochos had a spacious center to hold their annual bazaar and bake sales.
Based on the growth of the parish, our leaders knew the time had come to build the new church.
In June of 1987, the house that was home to the church for almost 10 years was torn down. The groundbreaking ceremony for our new church was held on June 14, 1987.
1987 – 2013
Construction moved quickly. The first Divine Liturgy in the new church took place on November 13, 1988. Even then, significant work remained within the church. The iconostasis, iconography, and seating were added in subsequent projects. In September of 2013, our parish came together to witness and celebrate the Consecration of our church.
The Consecration Godparent campaign was established to generate funding for the Phase III construction project, which had been envisioned since the 80’s but had proven to be an elusive goal. The Godparent program generated over $500,000 and all of the funds were dedicated to the construction of the expanded Community Center.
2014 – Present
Design, budgeting, and funding for the new building presented a variety of challenges. After several years of refining architectural drawings, negotiating with contractors and lenders, and performing additional fundraising, the community had a viable plan to move forward with construction. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on September 16, 2018.
Construction began in earnest during the spring of 2019 and was substantially completed by the fall of 2020. Although COVID-19 restrictions were in place, the new facility was used immediately, in a safe and responsible manner, by a variety of ministries. Utilization of the new Community Center has been overwhelming and its impact on the community and our ministries is immense.
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