The Society of the Divine Word has a longstanding history in northeastern Illinois. During the late 19th century, the order’s founder St. Arnold Janssen sent missionaries to the United States. After a few years on the East Coast, they settled in the Midwest and purchased land about 25 miles north of Chicago, beginning a fruitful relationship with the Archdiocese of Chicago.
In 1917, Archbishop George Mundelein asked the Divine Word Missionaries to serve as pastors of St. Monica. St. Monica, Chicago’s first African American parish, was founded by Father Augustus Tolton, America’s first black priest. In 1924, St. Monica and St. Elizabeth parishes merged. Today, we continue to provide pastoral care, educational opportunities and social outreach for African American and recent immigrant communities in northeast Illinois and northern Indiana.
Twelve Divine Word Missionary priests live and work in this district. The age range from the eldest (1928) to the youngest (1969) is 41 years. They come from the Philippines, Poland, the United States and Vietnam.
Chicago — St. Anselm and St. Elizabeth
Wheeling, Ill. — St. Joseph the Worker
Fort Wayne, Ind. — St. Patrick