Our Legacy

Celebrating twenty-five years of the patronage of St. Benedict the African, this parish was the culmination of almost a decade of prayerful discernment during the 1980s of Roman Catholic presence in the Englewood neighborhood:  what it would look like, how it would evolve, what values it would incarnate through its faith community.  Eight parishes formed into two worship communities along geographical lines:  St. Justin Martyr, St. Raphael, and Sacred Heart came together at the St. Justin Martyr site.  St. Brendan, Our Lady of Solace, St. Martin, St. Bernard, and St. Carthage came together in a new church built on the site of the 1968-razed St. Bernard church.  By 1995 the single parish with two worship sites split into two separate parishes (St. Benedict the African West and St. Benedict the African East), reflecting the independent growth and stable Eucharistic communities at each site.  2016 saw a further evolution of Catholic presence in Englewood, as both parishes formed a single new parish of St. Benedict the African, with no indicators of west or east.  We are hopeful and strong with the newness of our faith community, and move forward with the confidence, courage, and joy of a people who share faith and faithfulness.

Our Church

The church building was designed by the renowned architectural firm of Belli & Belli and is one of the very few Catholic churches built in Chicago to serve a predominately African American community. Upon entering the church building one begins to to catch a glimpse of the many surprises inside. Several artistic renderings in sculpted wood, stained glass and original art work welcome and draw one into the building.

Baptismal Pool and Sanctuary

Quickly one encounters our full immersion baptismal pool which measures 24 feet and is 3.5 feet deep. It is among the largest (if not the largest) of baptismal pools in the country. The sanctuary features a high arched ceiling with sky lights. The altar and ambo are carved out of black walnut, drawn from the image and meaning of an African drum.

One of a Kind Works of Art

An inspired 200 pound hand woven tapestry adorns the wall behind the altar and depicts a dancing flame (the spirit of God), choppy waters (daily strife), and the broken body of Christ image as the Bread of Life. One is drawn into the theology of the powerful symbols of the Blood of Christ and the water that came from piercing His side, which reminds us of the waters of baptism. Throughout the building are various stained glass windows crafted by the internationally known designer and artist David Lee Csicsko, as well as inspired wood works of Jerzy Kenar, and magnificent depictions of black life by Jan Spivey-Gilchrist.


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