LANSING | From its humble beginnings in 1913 as a mission church of the St. John Church in Glenwood, St. Ann Catholic Parish has come a long way.
And on Saturday the highlight of the parish's centennial year will take place as Cardinal Francis George will celebrate Mass at 4:30 p.m., followed by a dinner dance at the Serbian Social Center, 18550 Stony Island Ave.
"I was just with the cardinal this past week and he told me that he was excited about coming out here to St. Ann's," said the Rev. Bill McFarlane, the seventh pastor in the church's history.
McFarlane said recognizing the anniversary is in part a way of celebrating the accomplishments of those who helped build the parish. He pointed out that the current church building, at 3010 Ridge Road, and dedicated by George in 1997, is the third in the history of St. Ann's.
"It's to celebrate that this parish has stayed together and continued to work towards bringing Christ into this area and into the lives of the people around us," McFarlane said.
Paul Schultz, 74, is a lifelong St. Ann's parishioner who takes special pride in the 100th anniversary since he can trace his roots back to the beginning.
He said his grandfather, Edward Koselke, was among the founding fathers of St. Ann's.
Historical accounts say it all began with a small group of families who approached the Rev. Armand C. Martin, of Hazel Crest, to celebrate Mass in Lansing in 1913. It has since grown to a parish of about 1,500 families with a school added in 1950 that serves children in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
"It's unbelievable how we've grown," Schultz said. "It makes you feel old that you can remember every pastor that ever was there."
Schultz can make that claim because while St. Ann's has had a church building since 1913, it did not have a permanent pastor until the Rev. Francis Bellerive in 1941.
Schultz laughed as he recalled how Bellerive wrote out his sermons in shorthand.
"He had like a half an hour homily written on one index card," he said. "It was really amazing."
Schultz reflected on how receptive the parish's second pastor, the Rev. George Slominski, was to changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council that saw lay people become more involved in church decisions.
He recalled how the church's sixth pastor, the Rev. Fred Pesek, incorporated live animals, including the rental of a donkey for Palm Sunday services.
"Every pastor added something, a new wrinkle to the parish that kind of kept it alive," Schultz said.
Schultz also remembers all three church buildings, including the original one built at the corner of Ridge Road and Chicago Avenue.
"There's stories of holy water freezing because it was so cold in there," he said.
Schultz has fond memories of the nuns who taught at St. Ann's School, where he and his siblings attended.
"My mom, every month, used to give us an envelope with $3 in it and that was tuition for the month," he said.
Brian Kozlowski, director of music and liturgy for St. Ann's, said that with more than 40 active ministries there is always lots happening at the parish.
He said St. Ann's parishioners are generous with their time and donations.
"I've never seen that kind of call to action and that kind of camaraderie like I've seen it here," Kozlowski said. "We're still young and vibrant at a hundred years old."
George McNamara, 50, is a lifelong parishioner and chairman of the 100th Anniversary Planning Committee.
He said there is excitement over the large number of parish alumni who are expected to come back for the dinner and celebration on Saturday.
"A hundred years is a pretty big milestone," McNamara said. "As things kind of change in the community, it's something that has really stood the test of time."