On December 18, 1926, St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church drew its first breath in a brownstone two-story building located on the southwest corner of Winthrop and Hollywood in the city of Chicago. One week later, on Christmas Day, Rev. Constas H. Demetry (Hadjidemetriou), an outstanding clergyman, celebrated the first Divine Liturgy of the new parish. Father Demetry was an able administrator and organizer and as a result of his many good works, the Ecumenical Patriarch bestowed upon him the title “Doctor of the Ecumenical Throne”, he was also honored with the Golden Cross (‘Χρυσούς Σταυρός’) of the Order of The Redeemer (Τάγμα του Σωτήρος), by the Greek Government.
In 1933, an erudite, humble, and saintly priest, the Very Rev. Archimandrite Irenaios Tsourounakis, succeeded Father Demetry. He served the parish of St. Andrew faithfully during the economically trying years of the early thirties. The parish family respected and greatly loved Father Irenaios. One of his greatest contributions was the teaching of the Greek language to the children of the parish. In recognition of his many outstanding qualifications, the archdiocese elevated him to Bishop of San Francisco in 1937.
From 1935 to 1940, several priests on temporary assignment also served the parish. Rev. Gregorios Mionakakis (1935-1936), Rev. Nicholas Spiliotes (1937-1938), Rev. John Mesarhakis (1938-1939), Rev. Matthew Papavasiliou (1939), and Rev. Constantine Glavas (1939). In 1940, the Very Reverend Athenagoras Kokkinakis became the new pastor. A graduate of the Theological School of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Father Kokkinakis was a profound scholar and an able administrator. The parish began to grow significantly under his tutelage. During this time the mortgage of the church was retired.
Father Kokkinakis conceived the idea of a new building complex to better serve the needs of the rapidly expanding parish. He was instrumental in persuading the congregation to acquire the property on Sheridan and Hollywood as the site of the new church.
In 1945, Father Kokkinakis left for Astoria, New York, where he undertook the position of editor of the “Orthodox Observer,” the official periodical of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. In 1950, Father Kokkinakis ascended to the office of Bishop, gaining the distinction of being the second former parish priest of St. Andrew to become a bishop. He later went on to serve as Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain.
The idea of a new parish complex did not fade away with the departure of Father Kokkinakis. Under his successors, the Very Rev. Gregory Karfopoulos (1945-1948) and the Rev. George Mastrantonis (1949-1952), the idea grew and crystallized.
During Father Mastrantonis tenure, the building fund committee collected the initial funds and purchased a portion of the present site. A man with deep humanitarian instincts, Father Mastrantonis became involved in philanthropic work and spreading the word of God via the written word. During his four-year tenure at St. Andrew he planted the seed for what is today the Hellenic Foundation. His work for the “O LOGOS” also had its beginnings at that time. You could always find Father George seated at his desk, late at night, on the top floor of the old St. Andrew church, writing and editing informative pamphlets on the Greek Orthodox faith .
Reverend John Hondras came to the parish in January 1953. It took Father Hondras less than a year to get the community to purchase the land on which the church now stands. On November 13, 1953, the parish purchased the corner lot on Hollywood and Sheridan Road, adjacent to the property already acquired. The architects, Peter Camburas and Theodore J. Theodore prepared preliminary sketches of the proposed building.
On June 19, 1955, the cornerstone laying ceremonies took place with His Grace Athenagoras Kokkinakis, officiating. The bishop and former St. Andrew priests blessed and placed a copper box containing various documents pertaining to the history and growth of the parish in the cornerstone. In 1956, after spending nearly 1.5 million dollars for construction, the contractors had completed structure.
On September 8, Father Hondras celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in the newly constructed Holy Cross Chapel by the Lake. Until completion of the main church, Father Hondras conducted religious services in the large auditorium of the community center.
On November 25, 1956, the feast day of St. Katherine, Father Hondras celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in the new, but uncompleted church proper. Soon the interior of the church began to take shape. In February 1957, the parishioners witnessed the completion of their new red-roofed, limestone church. A year of expansion, 1957, also heralded the beginning of a church picnic for parishioners. In the summer of 1957, the marble Iconostasion and the installation of the stained glass windows was completed.
Archbishop Kavvadas officiated in the new church on September 29, 1957. The consecration of the church took place in the spring of 1960. On Saturday, May 28, during the Great Vespers, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, prepared the relics for the Sunday Consecration Service and Divine Liturgy. On Sunday, May 29, he conducted the sacred and inspiring service of Consecration.
Even though the parish had purchased the lot to the south of the church property in 1957, it was evident that further expansion was necessary so the parish council arranged for the purchase of the adjoining property exactly 10 years later.
In 1961, the erection of scaffolding marked the beginning of the decoration of the interior of the church proper resulting in the magnificent mosaic of the Virgin Mary, the Pantocrator on the dome, and the delicate designs on the walls and on the column capitals. With the addition of the second story classroom complex, the Greek school and the Sunday school began using the new second story facilities in the fall of 1961. In appreciation of his generous contributions to the church, the parish council named the Greek language school, “The Dr. Basil E. Stevens Greek School of St. Andrew.”
On January 15, 1967, Reverend Father John Kutulas arrived as second priest. Five years later, after having served the parish diligently for 19 years, Father John Hondras was reassigned to St. John’s Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Father Kutulas assumed the temporary pastorship of St. Andrew. On January 21, 1973, at the request of the parish council, Archbishop Iakovos approved the assignment of Father Kutulas as permanent pastor.
One of the greatest honors bestowed upon the parish took place on July 4, 1974. Under the pastorship of Father John Kutulas, Archbishop Iakovos presented, at a beautiful ceremony, a sacred relic of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle. For his distinguished service to his church as priest, counselor and confessor, the Ecumenical Patriarch awarded Father Kutulas with the Offikion (office) of Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Father Kutulas served honorably as Proistamenos until July 1998, when the Reverend Michael H. Kontos, Jr. succeeded him assuming the responsibilities of Proistamenos of St. Andrew. Father Michael was reassigned to the parish community of the Annunciation Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio, on May 1, 2004.
On June 1, 2004, the community of St. Andrew welcomed Reverend John N. Kalomas as its new Proistamenos. Having previously served Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Justice, Illinois, where under his tutelage the community of Holy Cross grew from 35 families to over 320, and its youth and ministry programs thrived. During his years there he worked very hard with the laity to pay off and burn the mortgage on December 31, 1997. The church was consecrated during his tenure on October 18, 1998. While at St. Andrew we enjoyed growth of our parish and ministries under Father John’s spiritual guidance. In June 2019, in recognition of his dedicated service to the church, Metropolitan Nathanael bestowed upon Father John, the Offikion of Protopresbyter. As of September 1, 2021, Metropolitan Nathanael assigned Fr. John to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Justice, Illinois. We thank Fr. John for his 18 years of dedicated ministry and service to the community and its parishioners. Axios!