History of the Parish

In May 1927, a church was purchased from a Protestant Congregation and the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Gambrilis was assigned as its first Pastor.  It was with this simple act that the parish of St. Nicholas was established.  So many families truly sacrificed to begin and sustain the Parish.  Out of the warmth of their hearts, in the true spirit of our Patron St. Nicholas, they gave their money, and even mortgaged their houses to secure the loans.  Their generosity continued and in the 1930’s the church building was totally renovated so that the stewards could worship in a true Byzantine Orthodox Church.  The parishioners did not stop there, as they saw a need to expand the Homer Greek School.  And in the 1940’s, a two-story structure was purchased to continue to serve the needs of the Parish.  The Homer Greek School continues to serve today’s generation and keeps the Greek language and culture alive in our community.

The 1960’s brought a wonderful designation in that our church was designated as a Patriarchal Shrine.  Even the Patriarch understood that many wonderful things were in existence at St. Nicholas.  Also, the 1960’s brought many changes to our Parish as once again, without hesitation, the parishioners decided to continue to serve the families of our Parish, so more sacrifices and changes would be necessary.  The stewards sold a piece of property at 87th and Richmond in Chicago and purchased the site in Oak Lawn that continues to serve our parish today.  The parishioners not only purchased the property, they also took the affirmative steps to begin constructing the buildings in which we still share fellowship today.  Under the loving guidance of Rev. Fr. Louis Greanias, groundbreaking and the completion of both the gymnasium and the Multi-Purpose Room (now affectionately known as the Dr. Mary Dochios Kamberos Community Center).  These two structures even held Divine Liturgy Services until our present Church was completed.  It is amazing to think of all the people who were baptized, married and buried out of these buildings.  Then after the Church was built, the two buildings have, and continue to house, athletics, meetings, parties, banquets, coffee fellowship hour and so many other functions that everyone has wonderful memories of time that they have spent there.

The 1970’s can be thought of as the decade that had completed the building of our Parish.  Never once did they say that we can not do this, but instead found a way.  And because of their efforts, our beautiful Church was completed and the Rev. Fr. Constantine Bithos celebrated the first Divine Liturgy on a sunny Palm Sunday morning.  In July of 1974, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos consecrated our magnificent Church.  In fact, the World Book Encyclopedia found the event to be so beautiful and important, that they listed the day as an important day in the history of the world in 1974 in word and picture in their 1974 Yearbook.  This magnificent Church continues to serve all of the needs of our Parish today.  The parishioners, through their love and gifts, went forth and completed the construction of the Church.  Fund raising continued in the 1970’s to pay off the mortgage so money could be used for the future needs of the Parish.  This endeavor continued and the Church was lead into the 1980’s by the Rev. Fr. George Massouras and the Rev. Fr. Dennis Strouzas.

The 1980’s once again saw a need to prepare for the future.  The last mortgage bill was paid off and a celebration was held to honor that day.  This was a very important day as it marked the first time that the Parish of St. Nicholas did no have a mortgage.  Not only was the mortgage paid off, but the Very Rev. Fr. Gabriel Karambis approached the Parish Council with the idea to create a Legacy Fund to create an endowment fund for the future.  There is never a better legacy than to be known as a Parish who continues to think of the future generations of the Parish.

The 1990’s and early 2000’s to date, have seen a commitment to not only renovating the Church Buildings but also to beautifying them.  A Building Fund campaign began, and, as always, the generosity of the stewards was overwhelming.  The Church, gymnasium, community center and the classrooms have been renovated and put back into pristine condition.  Our Parish is a home and it is important to maintain what one has been given to continue to minister to the needs of our Parish.  Concurrently, with the Building Fundraising, the Very Rev. Fr. Timothy Bakakos began an Iconography project.  Several phases were completed through the generous gifts of parishioners and friends.  The Church has never looked so beautiful, and it is wonderful that the Stewards of today understand the importance to maintain and continue to expand on the sacrifices of the forefathers of our church.

This time also brought a momentous event to St. Nicholas.  We were chosen and hosted the 2001 National Oratorical Festival.  Not only did participants and their families come from all over the United States, but we were blessed with the Pastoral Visitation of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America.  It truly was a moving experience for all that met His Eminence.

In the years since our inception, our Parish has offered so many ministries in order for our Parish to remain vibrant. St. Nicholas has offered the following programs and ministries out of the hard work of the parishioners who have generously given their time: Choir, Altar Boys, Bible Study, Adult Catechism, Homer Greek School, Sunday Church School, Ladies Philoptochos Society, Ladies Auxiliary, JOY/GOYA, Boy Scouts, Basketball Leagues, Athletic Camps, Dance Troupe, Golden Circle, etc.  Our Parish also has shown character by working together at every event hosted, especially the Annual Festival.  All of our stewards have enjoyed and participated in these ministries and programs over the years.  Everyone has not only grown spiritually through the programs, but have become better people for all the friendships made, while sharing Divine Liturgy together, participating in programs, sharing fellowship and gathering for and working at the Church functions.  This practice truly embodies the spirit of Orthodoxy.