Discover St. Barnabas Parish
In the early days of this community, a sparse Catholic population extended from 87th Street on the north to the city limits on the south. Washington Heights-Fernwood bordered on the east and the west stretched miles toward what is now known as Palos Hills. The few Catholic families attended Mass in the Longwood convent chapel until the first parish, St. Margaret of Scotland, was started in the early 1880s. In 1923, the parish was divided. George Cardinal Mundelein, then Archbishop of Chicago, appointed the pastor of St. Margaret's, Father Timothy D. Hurley, to organize the new parish. This was not an easy period for the early parishioners of what was to become St. Barnabas. Catholics were a distinct minority, and many of their neighbors did not readily accept a new Catholic parish. Father Hurley was prevented from breaking ground on the site chosen for the new church. Neighborhood residents had successfully petitioned the city to turn the land into a park, now known as Hurley Park.
Undaunted, the Irish-born clergyman authorized the purchase of a parcel of land where the current church is located. Across the street, a large old Victorian home was bought and used as the rectory. On the parcel, the construction of a combination church/school began. Construction was almost finished by the end of the year. At five o'clock Christmas morning 1924, Father Hurley celebrated the first Mass in the new church assisted by Fathers Mulligan and Dolan.