Chicago Unity or Unity Catholic High School

Chicago Unity Catholic High School Building
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Submitted by Patricia McCray (Hankins) Unity HS Class of 1976
Unity Catholic HS Crest

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Submitted by Patricia McCray (Hankins) Unity HS Class of 1976

The History of Chicago Unity High School

Chicago (population: 2.8 million) is located along the shores of Lake Michigan in northeastern Illinois. From its early days as a Potawatomie settlement, then as the site of Fort Dearborn in 1803, which led up to the formation of the city and its incorporation in 1833 and 1837, respectively, the “City of Big Shoulders” became a major location in the US for various reasons. Railroads and water transportation were two reasons why Chicago was one of the fastest growing cities in the country during the 19th Century.

Today, numerous railroads and highways of interstate, US, state, and local designations bring people together in the city on a daily basis, as does air traffic at O’Hare and Midway Airports. Chicago is a melting pot of people from many nationalities, making it ethnically diverse, and thus, is referred to as “the cultural, economic, and financial capital of the Midwest” (according to Wikipedia).

Like three other Catholic high schools on Chicago’s South Side, Unity High School was an all-girls’ school that had to close its doors in 1980. But closing doors and to undergo a change was nothing new for Unity, given its history.

It all started back in 1905 when Loretto Academy (an all-girls’ school) opened its doors in the Woodlawn neighborhood as a grade and high school that served both day and boarding students. That lasted until 1925 when the grade school was discontinued, and then boarding students stopped in 1933 during the Great Depression. Right before the grade schoolers stopped coming to Loretto, Mercy High School opened its doors to girls in 1924, and did so for the next 48 years.

In 1972, both Mercy and Loretto merged to become Unity at the Mercy site, at the urging of the superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago at the time, Rev. Robert Clark. Unity’s intial enrollment was around 800 when it first opened, but continued to drop to 400 in the fall of 1979.

In the spring of 1980, Unity along with AquinasSt. Thomas the Apostle, and Visitation were told by the Archdiocese of Chicago that their schools were going to close, but the foursome became two schools with the formation of Aquinas Catholic (for Aquinas and Visitation students) and Unity Catholic (Unity and St. Thomas the Apostle students) to form the VAUT Corporate System.

The financial situation only worsened after the schools merged as Aquinas Catholic closed in 1983, and Unity Catholic closed in 1988. Unity’s closure was tied to the formation of another new school, St. Martin de Porres, when Unity, Mendel Catholic, and Willibrord Catholic came together. That arrangement only lasted until 1997 when St. Martin de Porres was shuttered.

Unity Catholic alumnae Jacquelyn Foster tells us the former Unity High School building was razed some years ago. Today, the site that was Unity High now entertains residential living space. If you have a photo you can share of the Unity High School building in its prime, please forward it to us so we can share it on this page.

Unity Catholic HS Angels Sweater Sept. 1980 – 1989
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Submitted by Patricia McCray (Hankins) Unity HS Class of 1976
Unity Catholic HS Sweater Sept. 1972 – May 1980
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Submitted by Patricia McCray (Hankins) Unity HS Class of 1976


Year opened as Unity:           1972

Year renamed Unity Catholic: 1980

Year Unity Catholic closed:    1989

School colors:                       Black & Gold (from 1972-80),

Crimson & Cream (from 1980-89)

School nickname:                  none from 1972-80,

“Angels” (from 1980-89)

School song:                         unknown


In researching the history of Unity, we were unable to find any information that would tell us whether or not there was athletics or activities at the school. At the time the school was open, the Title IX reforms were taking place nationwide, which opened the door for girls’ athletics, but they offered volleyball, basketball, track, and possibly other sports such as tennis and softball, according to alumnae who submitted their memories below.

It would be simple to think that the school may have been part of a conference such as the Girls’ Chicagoland Athletic Conference (GCAC) or a similar organization, and they probably were members of the IHSA.

Unity probably did offer other activities such as band, chorus, musicals, dances, and others that would have rounded out the educational experience of any girl that attended the school, but we have no proof of it at this time.


From Stephanie M. Inis:

“I am a former Unity Angel (Class of 1986). We did have a basketball, track, & volleyball team. We also had a Drama Club, Spanish, & French Club. Unity also supported a liturgical dance troupe.”

From Mrs. Lisarn:

I went to Unity Catholic H.S. in Chicago (Class of 1989). Our colors were red and white. Our nickname was Unity Angels. I can’t remember our school song (lol). We had a little sorority called Uni Phi Psi. Unity merged with two other Catholic H.S. which were Mendel and Willibrord in the 88-89 school year.


Then we’d like to hear from you. Please contact us at one of the addresses listed below so that we can accurately tell the story of Unity High School or its predecessors, as well as the schools that were connected to Unity’s history (see above). Our e-mail address is or you can use the USPS to contact us at:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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