Sacred Heart Croatian Church 100 years of grace and service.
At the end of 1800’s the Croatians began to arrive in South Chicago because of the jobs, especially in the Steel Mills. In 1903 the Slovenians and the Croatians built their first church, St. George on 96th and Ewing. As some differences arose, in November of 1912 the Croatians decided to build their own church. In 1913 Sacred Heart Croatian Parish was formally organized by Rev. Ivan A. Stipanovic and the land was purchased on 96th St. between Exchange Av. and Escanaba Av. The cornerstone for the combination church, school and parish hall was laid August 31st 1913. The first Mass celebrated in the church was the midnight Mass for Christmas of 1913. The parish school opened in 1914 with a lay staff. Fr. Stipanovic was also instrumental in bringing the School Sisters of St. Francis of Christ the King to staff the school in 1915. Rev. Mato Canic replaced Rev. Stipanovic in 1916 and remained pastor until 1919 when the Croatian Franciscan friars arrived at Sacred Heart. Fr. Luka Terzic, O.F.M. was the first Franciscan friar serving as pastor. The Croatian Franciscan friars are still at Sacred Heart and the present pastor is Fr. Stephen Bedenikovic, O.F.M.
During the three and a half years as pastor, Fr. Luka Terzic, O.F.M. had 538 baptisms, the parish began to grow as he also welcomed all other ethnic entities to the parish community. Fr. Bono Andacic, O.F.M. (1922-1931 focused on adding the needed space for the school, purchasing and remodeling the building for the parish rectory and paying off the debt. During the difficult economic times because of the World War II Fr. Špiro Andrijanic, O.F.M. (1931-1947) struggled as he purchased the first organ for the church and the building on Commercial and 96th Street to serve the social needs of the people (Hrvatski Dom) the Croatian Hall. During the short time as pastor Fr, Teofil Pehar, O.F.M. (1947-1949) paid of the $19,000.00 debt. Fr. Ljubo Cuvalo, O.F.M. (1949-1958) saw a need for a new school and church so he began the plans and collecting the funds. In 1958 Fr. Miron Lasic, O.F.M. (1958-1968) began building the new school and the new church. Archbishop Albert Meyer blessed the new school in 1959. Cardinal Albert Meyer concreted the new church in 1964. Fr. Vendeline Vasilj, O.F.M. (1968-1971) built the new convent for the sisters and the new parish hall. The hall was necessary for the school children and also so that the parishioners have a place to gather socially. The parish continued to flourish under careful care of future pastors.
- Fr. Eugene Petrovic, O.F.M. (1971-1979)
- Fr. Marko Kozina, O.F.M. (1979-1994)
- Fr. Jerome Kucan, O.F.M. (1994-1995)
- Fr. Paul Maslac, O.F.M. (1995-2000)
- Fr. Stephen Bedenikovic, O.F.M. (2000-Present)