Immaculate Conception Catholic Church: A Short History of the Founding and Early Years

By Frank Vargo

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was organized on August 13, 1922. The new parish members consisted of former parishioners from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church located in the Robertsdale section of Hammond. These parish members wanted their own parish in Whiting where the Slovak culture and language would be preserved for the adults and passed on to their children.

In February of 1923 the site of the church building was purchased from land owned by Henry Schrage for $25,000. The site was located between White Oak and Schrage Avenues and John and Fred Streets.

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The Rev. Michael Kosko arrived on August 24, 1923 and became the first pastor. The cornerstone was laid on June 1, 1924. Father Kosko celebrated the first mass in the new church at midnight on Christmas Eve, 1924. Immaculate Conception Church was officially dedicated in 1926 by the Rt. Rev. J.F. Noll D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne.

The Rev. John J. Lach was transferred from Knox, Indiana, and was appointed pastor on June 28, 1926. He continued as pastor until his death in 1960 at the age of 66. Father John made sure that the new ten room school would be ready to open for the 376 students in September of 1926. The sisters of SS. Cyril and Methodius of Sacred Heart Villa in Danville, Pennsylvania, were selected to teach in the new school.

The Lourdes Grotto was erected with the help and generosity of the parishioners. The grotto, built of stone imported from the Lake Superior region, was dedicated by the Rt. Rev. J.F. Noll D.D. on July 4, 1928.