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Since its founding on Aug. 11, 1911, Transfiguration Church at Carmen Ave.. and Rockwell St. has been a national parish serving Polish families who live on the far north side of Chicago. At the turn of the century, the Bowmanville area of Chicago was a small settlement of homes, prairies and the large Budlong farms which were famous for their onions. Into this community came a small band of Polish immigrants. Although Rev. Dennis M. Thiele, pastor of nearby St. Matthias Church at Ainslie St. and Claremont Ave.. welcomed the newcomers, they did not feel at ease in the German parish. As a result, many Polish families traveled long distances to either St. Josaphat Church at Southport and Belden Ave. or to St. Stanislaus Kosta Church at Evergreen Ave. and Noble St. in order to hear Mass and receive instructions in their native tongue.

On behalf of the growing numbers of Polish families in Bowmanville, Rev. Francis X. Lange, pastor of St. .Josaphat Church and a member of the Archdiocesan Board of Consultors, presented a petition for a new national parish to Archbishop James E. Quigley. He granted the request and appointed Rev. Francis Wojciechowski, former assistant at the Polish parish of St. Ann at 18th Pl. and Leavitt St., as pastor. With the cooperation of Father Thiele, the new pastor held a meeting with his parishioners on Aug. 16, 1911 in St. Matthias hail. Until a permanent church could be constructed, the Poles attended Sunday Mass in the Lyman A. Budiong public school at Winona St. and Washtenaw Ave.

Father Wojciechowski purchased land bounded by Carmen Ave., Winnemac Ave.., Washtenaw Ave. and Rockwell St. for the new parish and work began on a combination church-school building, the cornerstone of which was laid on Dec. 8, 1911. Archbishop Quigley dedicated the new Transfiguration Church on July 14, 1912; the brick structure had been completed at the southwest corner of Carmen Ave. and Rockwell St.

The pastor lived in a home at 2527 W. Carmen Ave.. until a rectory was built at 2609 W. Carmen Ave. in the summer of 1912. Early records indicate that 150 families-about 600 persons- belonged to Transfiguration parish.

Two Sisters of St. Joseph from Stevens Point, WI opened the parish school in the fall of 1912 with an enrollment of 44 boys and 43 girls. The nuns lived in a portion of the combination building.

In addition to his work in Bowmanville, Father Wojciechowski also established a mission for Polish families in Evanston, IL In June 1912 this mission was reorganized as Ascension of Our Lord parish.

Named pastor of Good Shepherd Church on Nov. 4, 1918, Father Wojciechowski was succeeded by Rev. Felix Prange, former pastor of St. Mary of Gostyn Church in Downers Grove, IL (now in the Joliet diocese). Father Prange began his work in Transfiguration parish on Nov. 10, 1918, the day before the armistice ending World Wai I was signed.

By 1925, 200 children were enrolled in the parish school. Father Prange celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination in May 1935. Following his death on Oct. 13, 1941, Rev. Dominic Zuchowski, a former assistant at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish, was named pastor. Under his leadership, a school addition containing two classrooms and a community room for the Sisters was built at the southwest end of the combination church-school structure. At the same time, two bells were raised from a platform at the back of the church to the tower above the school.

In January 1950, Father Zuchowski was appointed pastor of St. Josaphat Church and Rev. Francis E. Ploszek was named pastor of Transfiguration parish. Prior to this appointment, he had been superior of the Archdiocesan Mission Band, Group Two, since 1940.

Soon after his arrival, Father Ploszek directed the remodeling of the church. With the generous assistance of his parishioners, he was able to make the final payment on the parish's long-standing debt.

In order to provide additional classroom space, plans were drawn up in 1955 for a new convent. The Sisters occupied their modern living quarters at the northwest corner of Winnemac Ave.. and Rockwell St. in May 1956. The former convent quarters in the combination building were then remodelled into classrooms. By 1957, 290 children were enrolled.

To make way for a new rectory, the priests' former residence was moved across Carmen Ave.. and construction subsequently began on a brick building at 2609 W. Carmen Ave.. Samuel Cardinal Stritch blessed the new convent and rectory on May 30, 1957.

Named pastor of St. Fidelis Church in November 1957, Father Ploszek was succeeded by Rev. Aloysius M. Komosa, a former assistant at the parish. He returned to Transfiguration parish from St. Josaphat Church where he had been serving as an assistant.

The 50th anniversary of Transfiguration Church was celebrated on Oct. 8, 1961. Albert Cardinal Meyer presided at the special Mass which was celebrated by former pastor Rev. Dominic Zuchowski.

Following Father Komosa's death on June 20, 1969, Rev. Sylvester M. Urbanek was named pastor. Prior to this appointment, Father Urbanek had served as assistant at St. Constance Church. Under his leadership, many improvements have been made in the parish complex. All classrooms were redecorated, carpeted, and furnished with new desks and a mobile school unit was rented from the Archdiocese of Chicago. A new pipe organ was installed in the church and a wood carving of the Resurrected Christ was placed in the sanctuary.

Transfiguration school, with its current enrollment of 330 children under the direction of three Sisters of St. Joseph and six lay teachers is ecumenical in the true sense of the word as one-third of the students enrolled are not Catholic. Some of these non-Catholic students are Protestant, others Moslem, but the majority belong to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church which is located nearby at 2727 W. Winona Ave.

Active parish organizations include the Parish School Board, Holy Name Society, Mothers Club, Rosary Ladies, and Ladies Auxiliary. Rev. Jerome Andracki, CR, is in residence at Transfiguration parish.

From "A History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1980

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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