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Humble Beginnings

Humble Beginnings, Difficult Times, Our Founding, The Hard Years


Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan, the sixth Archbishop of the 46 year old Diocese, was convinced that there were enough Catholics in Crawford to support another parish by the turn of the century. In January of 1901 the Archbishop sent Father Louis A. Erhard, a German immigrant, to Crawford to establish a new parish. With the help of friends from his previous assignments in Plano and Bristol, Fr. Erhard, a 22 year veteran of the Archdiocese, worked quickly and efficiently in order to serve the nascent community of Epiphany. On March 1st of the same year Fr. Erhard celebrated the Sacrament of Baptism for the first time at Epiphany. Natalie Lucy Patnoe was initiated into the faith of our Church and was the first native member of Epiphany.

Fr. Erhard served Epiphany for only four years, but what a four years of service and leadership that was. He rallied local Catholics to the cause of the new parish. He was able to raise over $3000 within a year (an amazing accomplishment in 1901-02) using time tested and innovative ways to do so. Epiphany Bazaar was a huge success. Pew rental and special collections padded the bank account allowing the parish to receive a $5000 loan to build our first church at 4217 W. 26th Street.

Finally, Epiphany Parish was out of the storefront and had a place to call home! But hard times and economic difficulties were not far behind. The severe poverty and sickness among the immigrant community and an extreme difficulty in raising funds to sustain the new parish took its toll on parishioners and pastor alike. Troubled and physically weakened, Fr. Erhard resigned as pastor in 1905 and retired to Joliet.


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