Former St. John Cantius Church, rectory fall to wrecking ball

2013-09-04T19:45:00Z 2013-09-04T23:38:05Z Former St. John Cantius Church, rectory fall to wrecking ballLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 04, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO | Soon no trace will be left of the former St. John Cantius Church and rectory at 3903 Main St. in the city’s Indiana Harbor section.

Crews are demolishing the buildings on the property now owned by the East Chicago Lighthouse Charter School.

The school building at the location remains.

No information is yet available on how the property will be used by the charter school. Calls to the school office weren’t immediately returned.

Bishop Dale Melczek officiated at the final Mass at the parish on June 22, 2009. Following that worship service, the doors closed for the last time.

St. John Cantius was founded in 1905 by 26 Polish immigrant families. The church was named for a Polish priest and theology professor, St. John Cantius, who was declared a patron of Poland and Lithuania by Pope Clement XII in 1737.

The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago — then known as the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Cunegundes — opened a school in the parish the same year.

According to the church’s history, the Rev. Michael Petzel shepherded the parish for 33 years, and by 1965 it was a spiritual home for 800 families.

Many baptisms, First Communions, confirmations and weddings were celebrated at St. John Cantius over the years.

Published reports from that final Mass state that a number of past and current parishioners shared memories printed in the church’s final bulletin. They recalled singing in the choir, Polish Christmas carols, crowded midnight Christmas Masses, the Easter resurrection procession, the Communion rail and "the beautiful tall altars."

The parishioners also held candles and led a final procession out of the church before its doors were locked.

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