Parish History

During the late 1940s and 1950s, many Greek Orthodox families moved out of Chicago to the suburbs. As a result, on March 20, 1953, the officers of the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago authorized a group of their parish members to organize a new parish in the western suburbs.

One of the early sacraments performed in the new parish was the baptism of Charles Maniatis, by Father Nicholas Spellyotis, in May 1954, at the Neighborhood Methodist Church in Maywood, Illinois, in the name of Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church. Father Spellyotis was a Greek Orthodox priest, who though retired and unassigned by the Diocese, worked diligently to organize a new parish in the western suburbs. On June 24, 1954, in the same building, Father Spellyotisbaptized Margo Tomaras in the name of Holy Apostles Church. From 1954 to 1958, Father Spellyotis and other priests sent by the Diocese would celebrate the Divine Liturgy at various places in the western suburbs.

On July 12, 1959, Father William Chiganos was appointed pastor of Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church and he and his parishioners celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the gymnasium of the Nixon School in Westchester, Illinois. In the ensuing months, Father Chiganos and the building committee searched for a more suitable site for the new church. The Evangelical Lutheran Church building in Broadview, Illinois was purchased and the interior of the church was renovated to conform to the requirements of Greek Orthodox worship with Father Chiganos actively directing this transformation.

In 1961 the parish, consisting of 280 families, purchased a five-acre tract of land on South Wolf Road in Westchester, Illinois, for $43,000. As the parish grew, the building committee chose the firm of Edward D. Dart to design and direct construction of a new church building. The parish General Assembly approved plans for the construction in November 1963. On May 17, 1964 the ground breaking ceremony was held and construction commenced on June 6, 1964. On Sunday, September 13, 1964 the cornerstone was set, followed by the long anticipated "Opening of the Doors" on Sunday, June 27, 1965.

The Holy Apostles church building is Neo-Byzantine in design. The architectural design is a contemporary interpretation of the classic Byzantine style. The building incorporates traditional forms with a present day interpretation. Mr. Dart accomplished this by extensive study, research, and travel throughout Greece and the Middle East. The primary use of just three basic materials (concrete, brick and wood) resulted in an impressive and distinctive church building. The interior of the church building features magnificent mosaic icons, designed by Sirio Tonelli Fine Art Studios. In 1966, Holy Apostles was one of sixteen Chicago area buildings that received Honor Awards and Citations of Merit, from the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, for outstanding architectural achievements. Holy Apostles Church was the only church building to receive special recognition that year.

A very special day in the history of the parish was June 1, 1975, when the church was consecrated by Archbishop Iakovos, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

In the years that followed, many dreams became realities for the Holy Apostles Parish. First, the church library was dedicated on November 16, 1969. In 1973, the exquisite icons, designed by the Tonelli Studio, were added to the Baptistry. The new Christian Educational Center, consisting of eight classrooms and a multi-purpose room, was added in 1973. In 1975, an icon of the Twelve Apostles was created on the ceiling dome in the exonarthex. Additional striking mosaics of the Crucifixion and Anastasis were completed in 1981. A permanent HARC book store opened in 1995. During the 1990s additional mosaic icons, designed by Tonelliwere installed and it is anticipated that several more will be added over the next few years.

Since 1959, Holy Apostles Church has been under the leadership of Fr. William Chiganos and has grown from humble beginnings to the present, with membership now approaching 1,000 Stewards. Holy Apostles is well known for its many innovative programs and ministries. These include the Stewardship Program, the Holy Apostles Resource Center (HARC) and AMNOS, which includes bible studies, the tape ministry, as well as publications. The parish is also well known for hosting the annual Metropolis of Chicago Celebration of Orthodox Books, which started in 1984. Some other innovative programs include Synaxis, for married couples;Eleos, a grief support group; the TOT's program for young pre-school children; GOYA; YAL and The Way. Each month the parish publishes the "Mosaic", an informative newsletter.