History of the South Bend Chapter

Mrs. Jerome J. Crowley

Mrs. Jerome J. Crowley

Mrs. Jerome J. Crowley, Founder – South Bend chapter of Christ Child Society
The Christ Child Society of South Bend was founded on August 6, 1947, by Mrs. Jerome J. Crowley. After obtaining Bishop John F. Noll’s permission for this new enterprise, Mrs. Crowley asked 15 friends to serve with her on the first Board of Directors. As a beginning project, these women decided to furnish clothing to needy babies. The first layette was presented to a baby born shortly after midnight on Christmas morning. It seemed the Christ Child smiled on this new organization!

Before long, calls were received asking for clothing for older children. The membership decided to add this project to their original proposal.

In summer, 1949, the South Bend chapter was incorporated and a constitution and by-laws were drawn up. In 1951, the official seal of the Christ Child Society of South Bend was designed by Mrs. Alice Schlesinger, who was inspired by the famous Della Robbia plaques. In December of the same year, the program was answering letters from needy children at Christmas, one of the oldest and best loved works of the Society throughout the country, was begun.

As both the numbers of children being helped and the membership grew, it became clear that the Society needed a home. In October, 1954, the organization accepted the use of seven rooms, rent-free, on East Jefferson Boulevard. After several interim locations, in 1973 the Society moved to the vacant Sacred Heart Church on West Thomas Street.  The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend not only provided the use of the building but also authorized extensive remodeling and upgrading of the property.

In 2007, the Chapter’s 60th Anniversary year, the Board of Directors began the search for a new location because the number of children and infants served annually had exceeded 4000. We had outgrown the aging Thomas Street building. The former Saint Patrick’s Parish school on Scott Street was underutilized by the parish. An agreement was reached between Father Lenard Chrobot and the Society to occupy the building. In May of 2008, after extensive remodeling of seven classrooms and two offices, the Christ Child Society moved 3 blocks to its new home. The Clothing Center, is the very heart of the South Bend chapter, which is 1 of 41 chapters throughout the U.S. of the National Christ Child Society.

The Christ Child Societies of South Bend and Fort Wayne were featured in the 2015 Annual Bishop’s Appeal.  It is a great way to have a look at some of the programs offered in both areas of Indiana. 2015 Bishop’s Appeal Video


1960 Open House Layettes on Display

1955-Christames Bazaar.Coquillard

1955 Christmas Bazaar


1960 Open House


May 1960 Mrs. Arthur Diedrich, Mrs. Bruno Schlesinger, Mrs. Paul Mackin


May 1960 Mrs. F. Kenneth Dempsey, Mrs. Burton E. Toepp, Mrs. Donald McKeen Smith


1960 Open House Mrs. J. Arthur Haley, Mrs. Peter George, Bishop Pursley, Msg. John Sabo, Msgr. Elmer G. Peterson

1960-Makar.Hardig.Kamm.Thornburg 001

May 1960 Mrs. Edward Makar, Mrs. Eugene Hardig, Mrs. B.A.Kamm, Mrs. Maurice Thornton


1955 Mary Jane Moynihan, Rosemary Hardig, Grace Dempsey, Francis Laughlin, Dorothy McCarthy


1952 Layette Delivery to St. Joseph Hospital

Past Presidents May 2016

Past Presidents May 2016
Standing: Peg Riggs, Mary Liddell, Bette O’Malley, Beth Barrett, Esther Cyr, Kathy Seidl, Marie Brady, Marge Hosinski, Sheila Emge, Norma Villanucci, Maureen Cahir, Marcia Auger, Jane Horning, Diane Quinn, Sue Urhan, Jeanne Ward
Seated: Margie Bycraft, Marilyn Toepp, Sandy Redden, Katie Screes, Rosie Shafer, Joan Hardig