DO YOU KNOW THIS HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL AND CHURCH?
On June 30, 1952, Father Harold T. O’Hara was called to the Archdiocesan Chancery Office to “build a new parish on the south side of Arlington Heights.”
Our Lady of the Wayside parish is named after a 5th century painting of the Blessed Mother. The image of Mary was frescoed on a piece of stone taken from an ancient Roman building and was placed in a grotto facing one of the streets of Rome. It was moved frequently from one place to another, hence the name Our Lady of the Wayside.
About 250 families resided in the original confines of the parish. The original parish property had an old shack, which Fr. O’Hara used as a temporary parish rectory. He rented the gym at South School to celebrate Sunday Mass; the first was on July 27, 1952.
After living in the original ‘shack’ rectory for eight months, Fr. O’Hara moved to a home at 821 S. Mitchell that was purchased by the parish to be used as a rectory.
On May 24, 1953 – the Feast of Our Lady of the Wayside – ground was broken for the construction of a school building with space for a temporary church, temporary convent and temporary meeting hall. In conjunction with this event, the first group of children from the parish received their First Holy Communion.
July 26, 1953 – The cornerstone of the school building was laid.
December 25, 1953 – The first mass in the new church was celebrated, just seven months after ground was broken! Father O’Hara really wanted to celebrate Christmas Mass in the church – and he told the contractors. They stepped up their work and on Christmas Eve, Father O’Hara, the Altar Committee, and a squad of Holy Name men changed a large dusty room in the school building into a beautiful church.
On August 22, 1954, four Dominican Sisters took up residence in the temporary convent that was located on the top floor of the south wing of the school building.
On September 10, 1954, the school opened with 300 students! This was just sixteen months after ground-breaking! Sr. Cleophas, O. P., was the first principal and there were four nuns and seven lay teachers.
On November 21, 1954, Cardinal Stritch dedicated the school building.
In 1956 – Another groundbreaking occurred, this time for the building of a separate, permanent church. The new church was built in a modified Romanesque style with an exterior of Indiana limestone. The temporary church space was converted to seven much-needed classrooms.
September 26, 1957 – The first Mass was held in the church. It wasn’t decorated yet because all extra funds went to the school for new classrooms.
In 1960 – Six more classrooms were added, and construction began on the fourth and final rectory.
In 1968 – Construction of the Junior High School was completed and the dedication on April 20, 1968 capped a very busy 15-year effort in the construction of the parish complex.
In 1973 – The convent at OLW was leased to Clearbrook Center in Rolling Meadows to be used as a supervised live-in center for physically challenged adults who were working in the community.
In 1997 – OLW School won its first National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award.
In 1998 – The first major construction project in 30 years was for the Gathering Place, which is a large social room next the Church. It is used for fellowship after Mass, funeral visitation, Eucharistic adoration, social events and more. It is truly a Gathering Place.
August 2002 – The new Parish Center opened, after a complete renovation of the old convent. The Parish Center has offices, meeting rooms, and preschool classrooms.
In 2015 – Our school won its second National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award. Only about 10% of all schools have won this award twice.
2018 – A much needed update to the interior of the Church was completed from Christmas 2017 to Easter 2018. The inside of the church now features blue for our Patroness Mary.