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SS Peter and Paul Church at 38th and Paulina St. was established in 1895
to serve Polish families who had settled west of Bridgeport. With the aid
of Rev. John Radziejewski, pastor of St. Adalbert Church at 17th and Paulina
St., the Poles of McKinley Park petitioned Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan
for a parish of their own.
Archbishop Feehan appointed a young Polish-born priest, Rev. Paul P. Rhode,
to organize the national parish of SS Peter and Paul. Following his ordination
on June 16, 1894, Father Rhode had been serving as an assistant at St.
In announcing Father Rhode's appointment, Dziennik Chicagoski (The Polish
Daily News) on Dec. 30, 1895 reported that a school had been organized
and noted that:
Although the pastor has not taken permanent residence
because of lack of rooms, quarters are being arranged for him. In order to facilitate
the parish committee convened last night to take up the problem of
making a home for their new pastor.
Early parish records indicate that a two story combination
church and school building was constructed at 36th and Chariton (now
St., just east
of Ashland Ave.
In 1897, Father Rhode was appointed pastor of St. Michael Church at
83rd and Bond (now South Shore dr.). He was named Auxiliary Bishop
in 1908 and in 1915, he became Bishop of Green Bay, WI.
Father Rhode's successor at SS Peter and Paul parish was Rev. Boleslaus
Nowakowski. The Polish-born priest had grown up in St. Adalbert parish
and since his ordination in 1895, he had been an assistant at St. Adalbert
and Immaculate Conception parishes in Chicago.
During Father Nowakowski's short term as pastor of SS Peter and Paul
Church, he began negotiations with the Chicago Junction Railway Co.
the Railway Co. and the Union Stock Yard and Transit Co. had been acquiring
land north of the stockyards on which to create an industrial district.
However, before Father Nowakowski could complete his plans for a new
parish plant at 38th and Paulina St., he was transferred to the pastorate
Andrew Church in Calumet City, IL, in December 1901.
Rev. Maximilian Kotecki succeeded Father Nowakowski as pastor of SS
Peter and Paul Church. Father Kotecki had organized the Polish parish
Stanislaus in Kankakee, IL (now in the Joliet diocese) in November
Under Father Kotecki's leadership, a new rectory, church, and school
were constructed at the present parish site. The rectory at 3745 S.
Paulina St. was completed in 1904 and in the following year, a house
Paulina St. was secured for use as a convent by the Felician Sisters
who staffed SS Peter and Paul school.
In 1905, development of the Central Manufacturing District began in
the territory bounded by 35th St. on the north; 39th St. (later Pershing
rd.) on the south; Ashland Ave. on the west; and Morgan St. on the
district, the first of its kind in the United States, provided jobs
within walking distance for men and women of SS Peter and Paul parish.
On Sept. 3, 1906, Archbishop James E. Quigley laid the cornerstone
of the present SS Peter and Paul Church. Designed in the Romanesque
constructed at the northeast corner of 38th and Paulina St. at a cost
of $100,000, SS Peter and Paul Church was dedicated on June 30, 1907
The New World reported on Sept. 14, 1907 that a three story brick school
was to be constructed at the southeast corner of 37th and Paulina St.
At the time, 205 students were enrolled at the parish school which,
according to the Official Catholic Directory, was then located at 37th
On Aug. 30, 1908, the newly consecrated Auxiliary Bishop Paul P. Rhode
dedicated SS Peter and Paul school which had been completed at a cost
of $85,000. In its account of the ceremony, The New World noted that: "Nearly
all the houses in the neighborhood were gayly decorated with American bunting
and the Polish colors of red and white, while the church and parish buildings
were almost hidden in bunting."
The McKinley Park neighborhood in which SS Peter and Paul parish complex
was located included families of many nationalities. Four blocks to
the west, at 36th and Hoyne Ave., was the German parish of St. Maurice,
had been founded in 1890. At 3532 S. Hermitage was Our Lady of Good
Counsel Church, which had been organized in September 1901 to serve English-speaking
families who lived in the territory between St. Agnes Church in Brighton
Park and St. Bridget Church in Bridgeport.
Following his resignation as pastor in 1926, Father Kotecki served
as an assistant at the Polish parishes of St. Pancratius and St. Turibius.
died on Dec. 28, 1959 at the age of 85.
Rev. Adalbert S. Olszewski succeeded Father Kotecki as pastor. Prior
to this appointment, the Polish-born priest served for more than 20
years as pastor of Holy Cross Church in Joliet, IL (now in the Joliet
At the time he began his work in McKinley Park, 1,500 families belonged
to SS Peter and Paul parish and 1,217 children were enrolled in the
With the onset of the Depression, no new buildings were constructed
in the parish plant. Although times were hard for the majority of parishioners,
Father Olszewski saw to it that no child was compelled to leave the
school because of financial difficulties.
In 1945, the people of SS Peter and Paul Church observed the golden
anniversary of the founding of their parish. Since the jubilee fell
no social celebration was held.
Father Olszewski died on Sept. 21, 1948 at the age of 71. His successor
was Rev. Bernard Szudzinski, a Polish-born priest who had served as
pastor of St. Valentine Church in Cicero, IL, for 25 years.
With the generous support of his parishioners, Father Szudzinski was
able to pay off a $93,000 parish debt and to improve the school and
Under his leadership, property was purchased just east of SS Peter
and Paul Church at 38th St. for a new convent.
Father Szudzinski was named a Domestic Prelate with the title Right
Reverend Monsignor in 1949.
On Easter Sunday, Apr. 5, 1953, ground was broken at 1640 W. 38th St.
for the new convent. Unfortunately, Msgr. Szudzinski did not live long
to see the residence blessed. He died on Jan. 18, 1954 as a result
of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
In April 1954, Rev. Stanislaus A. Rozak, pastor of St. Stanislaus B. & M.
Church in Posen, IL, was appointed to succeed Msgr. Szudzinski as pastor
of SS Peter and Paul Church.
Samuel Cardinal Stritch dedicated the new convent on May 2, 1954. Under
Father Rozak's direction, a hall was completed under the church, the
school was modernized, and the interior of SS Peter and Paul Church
As a result of the continued support of his parishioners, Father Rozak
was able to pay for the new convent and for the renewal projects, which
Father Rozak continued to serve the people of SS Peter and Paul Church
until his death on Feb. 2, 1966.
Rev. Joseph F. Mytych has been pastor of SS Peter and Paul Parish since Mar.
20, 1966. From 1954 to 1963, Father Mytych was a resident at this parish
during which time he served as Director of Music Education for
the Archdiocese of Chicago. He returned to the McKinley Park neighborhood
Brookuield, IL, where he had been in residence at St. Barbara Church.
Father Mytych supervised the renovation of the church to reflect the
changes in liturgy which had been adopted by the Second Vatican Council.
The 75th anniversary of the founding of SS Peter and Paul parish was
on Oct. 25, 1970 with a special jubilee Mass.
When St. Columbkille Church at Grand Ave. and Paulina St. was consolidated
in June 1975, the historic Hilbourne Roosevelt pipe organ was dismantled
and transferred to this parish. The organ is now being
Originally founded as a national parish for Polish immigrants, SS Peter
and Paul parish lost its exclusively Polish character as Catholics
of many national backgrounds joined the congregation. For years, the
Yards remained a major source of employment. However, following the
decline of the stockyards in the 1950s and 1960s, McKinley Park residents
jobs in other industries or in the field of public service.
In 1978, 259 children were enrolled in the parish school under the
direction of five Felician Sisters and five lay teachers. Vocations
from this parish
include 31 nuns, eight priests, and one brother.
Rev. Michael V. Kalck is associate pastor. Norman Serafin, the first
permanent deacon to be ordained from SS Peter and Paul Church, served
from May 1975 until his death on Apr. 21, 1978 at the age of 39.
From "A History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese
of Chicago" - 1980
Reprinted with the permission
of the Chicago Archdiocese.