In November 1948, Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago, established the parish of St. John de la Salle. Rev John J. Murphy, the assistant pastor of Holy Rosary, became the first pastor of St. John and remained through October 1967. Land was purchased at 102nd Street and Vernon Avenue and construction of a church and school was started. Father Murphy remained pastor of St. John de la Salle until October 1967. Subsequent pastors included Father Ralph Mollan through 1981 followed by Fr. Joseph Bennett through 1989 and Fr. Oliver Jennings who remained until his death in November 2002. Father Michael Knotek, our fifth pastor, became our Shepard in December, 2004. Fr. Knotek has been transferrerd to St. Columbanus in June of 2011.
On July 1, 2011 we were overjoyed to welcome our new pastor, Fr. Rukulatwa Kiiguta. He is our sixth pastor. Through the years the following priests have been assistants and associates at St. John De La Salle: Rev. Harold Steffens, Rev. William Lyons, Rev. Joseph Christ, Rev. Hubert Hoffman, Rev. Earl Thomas, Rev. Francis Kub, Rev. Dominic Grassi, Rev. John Boyle, Rev. Ronald Dussman and Rev. Oliver Jennings. During the years the Augustinian Fathers, especially from Mendel High School (now St. Martin de Porres) assisted, especially Father John Seary, Father Joseph Hennessey, Father John Mc Conville, Father Daniel Hartigan, Father Thomas Leo, Father John Gavin, Father Don Lewandowski, Father Patrick Murphy and Father John Crepeau. Mrs. Esther Zavaghnin was secretary for the parish for 23 years, and prior to that served as school secretary for many years. Many others have saved faithfully as church support staff over the past 60 years as well.
All vibrant churches are supported by effective lay-drive organizations. St. John de la Salle has a hard-working Parish Pastoral Council assisting our Pastor to carry out the mission of our parish. In addition to our Parish Pastoral Council our church is also supported by the work of our Parish Finance Committee, Holy Name Society, Women's Guild, Knights of Columbus, Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, Senior Citizens and other more informal groups that also support the mission of the church in various ways. In addition our church is supported by the dedication of many faithful Lectors, Commentators, Ushers, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, and Ministers of Care. Their work enhances the liturgical and spiritual life of our faith community.
St. John de la Salle School, now called "St. John de la Salle Catholic Academy of Fine Arts" was opened in the fall of 1950. The school initially began with grades 1 through 6, adding another grade each year until eight full grades existed, adding a Kindergarten in 1973, a pre-school e first graduation class of St. John De La Salle School was held in June 1953 for 44 students. Our pre-school was added in 1992 with full accreditation from the National Academy of Early Childhood Education. The Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the school until 1977 and the first principal was Sister Esther, followed by Sister Dorothy, Mrs. Cleo Arthur, Ms. Mary E. Miller, Mrs. Linda Bond, Mr. Charles Carroll, Ms. Kimberly Burks, and Mr. Philip Mesina. We now have a great faculty of lay teachers, lead by our principal, Mrs. Sally Santellano, and her Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Wills. Additionally, our school has computer, music, and art programs. We are also very proud of our Voices of Praise Choir and Praise
Dancers who enhance the quality of our liturgical celebrations. Our school is strong and vibrant and will continue to be so because of God's providence and the loving spiritual and material support of so many benefactors. God continues to bless our ministry of forming young men and women into strong Christian leaders.