A Little History: In the Beginning
In early 1905, Adam Kasper and his German Catholic neighbors near Orchard Street and Deming Place wrote to Archbishop James E. Quigley asking for a parish. Quigley, whose main concern was establishing new parishes in the growing archdiocese, assigned Father Francis A. Rempe, then age 31, to the project in May of 1905. Rempe had great assistance from the lay founders of the parish, F. H. Ehlen, Louis P. Hugel, Frank Ehlen and Adam J. Kasper, who opened his home to the young priest. The original plan was for the parish to be German-speaking, but Rempe soon saw a demand for English as well. The parish began as bilingual.
Founder Adam J. Kasper
Adam J. Kasper organized the committee who wrote to ask the archbishop for a parish. He was the head of the A. J. Kasper Company, a coffee and tea importer and wholesaler, in Chicago. Father of five sons and four daughters (and eventually grandfather of 17), he gave many gifts to the parish, including the rose window over the main entrance. Adam Kasper died October 23, 1924, at the Edgewater Golf Club. He was 72 years old and he and his wife, Katherine, had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The altar of the Blessed Virgin at the front of the church was given by Mrs. Kasper in memory of her husband on the parish's 25th anniversary, in 1930.
Founding Pastor Francis Rempe
Saint Clement Church was Monsignor Francis A. Rempe’s life’s work. His accomplishments are the result of his talents, his capacity for hard work, and his dedication to the work of the Lord. He inspired parishioners to united action during the years of financial sacrifice for the building of the church. Perhaps only such a strong character could meet the task of building up a worthy house of God.
Monsignor Rempe served as pastor of Saint Clement Church from its founding until his death on February 14, 1946. He was 72 years old.
Women Support the Church from the Beginning
On the piers that support the great dome of our church are mosaics of saints - all women saints. They are founders (Clare of Assisi), single women (Agnes, Barbara, Mary Magdalene), theologians (Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena), mystics (Teresa), mothers (Elizabeth of Hungary), reformers (Catherine), and natives of the New World (Rose of Lima). Why these saints? The stories of the founding women of the parish suggests some answers. Read More.
Church and School
Starting to Build
On September 5, 1905, two lots were purchased for $34,800 (in 2005 dollars, $714,220). The lot on the west side of Orchard Street was to be the site of the combination school and church, to be built immediately. The lot at the corner of Orchard and Deming would eventually be the site of the permanent church building.
Architect William Brinkmann was commissioned to design the combination building with an assembly hall in the basement, a church seating about 450 on the first floor, and four classrooms, an office and a library on the second. Ground was broken on October 18, 1905. A cold drizzle fell on the procession of parishioners led by Father Rempe to bless the ground that would be the site of the new parish's home. Read More.
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini
Our Neighborhood Saint: Mother Cabrini
Maria Francesca Cabrini was born near Milan, Italy, in 1850. In 1880, she and seven other young women founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with hopes of going to China. But there were millions of Italian immigrants in the cities of the United States, and Pope Leo XIII asked her to serve them. Read More.
Saint Jude and the Comedian
It was late in the 1930s, the depths of the Depression. Comedian Danny Thomas had recently moved to Chicago with his young family, and his career was not going well. Now out of work, he prayed before the statue of Saint Jude at Saint Clement. "Show me my way in life," he prayed to the patron saint of hopeless causes, "and I will build you a shrine."
Not much later, his career began to turn around. He got a good job at a local nightclub, and before long he was working regularly in radio and then television. He starred in a popular TV show, Make Room for Daddy, from 1953 to 1965, and established a production company that produced the Dick Van Dyke Show and the Andy Griffith Show,among many other successful shows. Read More.
Pastors and Patron Saint
A Century of Pastoral Leadership
These seven priests have served as pastors of the People of God at Saint Clement Church in the first century of the parish's life.
Monsignor Francis A. Rempe: 1905-1946
Monsignor Edward O. Leiser: 1946-1966
Father George A. Knippen: 1966-1973
Father Robert Sauer: 1973-1975
Father John Fahey: 1975-1989
Father Joseph O'Brien: 1989-1995
Father Thomas H. Hickey: 1995-2007
Father Ken Simpson: 2007-present
Life of Saint Clement
Little is known of this apostolic father beyond a few facts. He was a disciple of St. Peter, and perhaps of St. Paul. It is thought that the Clement whom St. Paul praises as a faithful fellow worker, whose name is written in the Book of Life [Philippians 4:3], was Clement, afterwards bishop of Rome. But there is great difficulty in admitting this supposition. It is certain that Clement, the idol of the Petrine party in the Primitive Church, about whom their myths and traditions circled lovingly, was quite removed in feeling from the Pauline party. Read More.
Saint Clement Church 1905-2005:
Nourished by Our Roots, Sustained by Our Faith, Branching Out to the World
This beautiful book highlights the first 100 years of Saint Clement Church's rich history, featuring over 160 vintage and original full color photographs of the church's magnificent art and architecture, complete descriptions of the parish's ministries and groups, and many interesting historical facts and stories. Hardcover, 104 pages, 8.5 x 11 inches. Purchase yours today by contacting the parish office. 773-281-0371.