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Organized in 1924 as a Polish parish, St. Blasť   Church at 61st Pl. and 75th Ave. in Argo, Ill, was formed from the territorial parish of St. Joseph in Summit, IL The nucleus of the national parish of St. Blasé was a mission which had been established in Argo in 1916 by Rev. Thomas P. Bona, pastor of St. Joseph Church. Under Father Bona's leadership, a brick combination building was constructed at 7438 W. 61st Pl. in Argo. This structure, which was dedicated on Aug. 27, 1916, served as a school of St. Joseph parish. When St. Joseph Church on Archer Ave. was destroyed by fire in July 1918, the Catholics of Summit attended Mass in the basement of the parish school in Argo.

On Mar. 5, 1924, Archbishop George W. Mundelein appointed Rev. Joseph Sehnke "to the Rectorship of the parish of Summitt (sic), Illinois." The Archbishop's letter contained information that

At present Summitt (sic) and Argo form one parish, and in the division the present pastor of the combined parishes, Rev. S. Koralewski, will relinquish Summit and retain pastorship of Argo. You will kindly arrange with him to take up his residence in Argo as soon as convenient.

According to the 1924 annual report for St. Blasé parish, the congregation in Argo numbered 296 families. A rectory had been constructed during the year at 6101 S. 75th Ave. and three lots had been purchased for the use of the parish. The following boundaries for St. Blasé Church were listed in the 1924 report:

North-the Indiana Harbor railroad tracks (at 59th St.). South-Willow Springs. West-Drainage Canal. East-66th Ave. (Nashville Ave.) in Chicago. The nearest Polish parish was St. Camillus, which had been established at 55th and Lockwood Ave.

The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth-who had staffed St. Joseph school-continued their work among the children of St. Blasé parish. By 1925, 463 students were enrolled. On July 18, 1927, The New World reported that St. Blasé parish feels

the necessity of a larger church. The locality is seventy-five per cent mixed nationalities, still the parish is composed mostly of people of Polish race or extraction .... A large number of the people in this district are employed in the sugar refining industries at Clearing.

By 1928, the school building at 7438 W. 61st Pl. had been enlarged and a convent had been completed at 7434 W. 61st Pl.

On Jan. 12, 1932, Father Koralewski was named pastor of St. Stanislaus B. & M. Church in Kankakee, 111. (now in the Joliet diocese). His successor at St. Blasé Church was Rev. Valentine Belinski, a former assistant at St. Ann Church at 18th Pl. and Leavitt St. in Chicago.

During his short term as pastor, Father Belinski promoted the activities of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO). On May 16, 1936, he was named pastor of St. Roman Church in Chicago.

Rev. Henry Piepenkotter, a former assistant at St. Mary of Czestochowa Church in Cicero, IL, served the people of St. Blasé Church from May 1936 until his death on Feb. 29, 1948 at the age of 58.

Rev. Joseph C. Mszanowski began his work in St. Blasé parish on Apr. 24, 1948. He came to Argo from Chicago, where he had served as pastor of St. Turibius Church. Father Mszanowski directed a program of modernization which included the enlargement of the convent and the refurbishing of the school and basement church. The parish hall was divided to provide more classrooms.

Following World War II, parish membership increased as Catholic families moved to the Argo-Summit area. Enrollment in St. Blasé school also grew steadily, reaching 716 students by 1955.

On Jan. 7, 1962, Father Mszanowski announced plans for a new church and ground breaking ceremonies took place on Feb. 4, 1962. The cornerstone of St. Blasé Church was laid on Sept. 9, 1962. The cross-shaped edifice, designed by the architectural firm of Strelka, Tobolski & Strelka, was completed at the northeast corner of 61st p1. and 75th Ave. at a cost of $485,000. The exterior walls are brown range brick with Indiana limestone trim. The edifice contains 17 stained glass windows. The basement of the structure serves as the parish hail. Auxiliary Bishop Aloysius J. Wycislo dedicated St. Blasé Church on June 30, 1963.

On June 7, 1964, Father Mszanowski celebrated a special Mass in St. Blasé Church to observe the 50th jubilee of his ordination. In March 1966, he was named pastor emeritus. He died on June 24, 1967 at the age of 80.

Rev. Edward J. Radwanski, former pastor of St. Barbara Church in Chicago, was appointed pastor of the church on March 4, 1966. He directed the construction of a new rectory at 6101 S. 75th Ave. in 1967 to replace the old structure which had been built in 1924.

In the fall of 1972, Father Radwanski was named pastor emeritus. He continues to reside in the parish rectory.

Rev. Elmer J. Ruszkowski was appointed pastor of St. Blasé Church on Oct. 4, 1972. He came to Argo from North Chicago, IL, where he had been associate pastor of Holy Family Church.

As a national parish, St. Blasé has no definite boundaries; its members come from Argo, Summit, Bridgeview, Justice, Willow Springs, and Chicago. Established as a Polish parish, the ethnic composition of the congregation widened over the years to include families of many nationalities and in recent years, Spanish families have joined the parish. Of the approximately 950-975 families who now belong to St. Blasé Church, 35-40% are Spanish. Each Sunday, one Mass at St. Blasé Church is celebrated in Polish. A Spanish Mass is held on the fourth Sunday of every month. Attendance at this Mass is so great that more Spanish Masses will be added to the schedule in the near future.

Among the societies which are still active in St. Blasé parish are the Knights of Columbus, the St. Stanislaus Society, the Polish Roman Catholic Union, the "Slawa Boga" Society, and the Rosary Ladies Sodality. These groups had their origin in St. Joseph parish during the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Bona (19111921). Newer groups include the Mothers' Club, School Board, and Men's Club. St. Blasé parish works with the Des Plaines Valley Community Center.

Enrollment in St. Blasé school now numbers 207 children under the direction of four Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and five lay teachers.

Rev. Raymond M. Barlog is associate pastor of St. Blasé Church. Rev. Hubert Kostrzanski, 0. Cist. assists at the Polish Mass on Sundays and at the daily Masses.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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