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St. Bruno Church at 48th and Harding Ave. on the southwest side of Chicago was founded in 1925 to serve Polish Catholics who had settled in the area between Five Holy Martyrs Church at 43rd and Richmond St. and St. Camillus Church at 55th and Lockwood Ave. Efforts at organizing a Polish parish were made as early as Dec. 2, 1923 by a committee of 12 lay men. With the approval of Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas P. Bona, a diocesan consulter, members of the committee circulated petitions in the neighborhood seeking support for a national parish. In May 1925, property was purchased on Harding Ave. between 48th and 49th St. as a site for new church.

On Sept. 12, 1925, George Cardinal Mundelein appointed Rev. Alexis S. Gorski as the founding pastor of St. Bruno Church. Prior to this assignment, he had served as pastor of Old St. Stephen Church at Ohio and Sangamon St. Since its founding, St. Bruno has been a national parish serving Polish families who live in the area bounded by the Sanitary and Ship Canal on the north; the Indiana Harbor Belt Line railroad tracks near 52nd St. on the south; the Belt Line tracks near Kolmar Ave. on the west; and the Grand Trunk railroad tracks at Central Park Ave. on the east.

Until a temporary church could be constructed, Father Gorski celebrated Mass in the old Edwards branch public school. On Christmas Day 1925, the people of St. Bruno parish worshipped in a one story building which was affectionately called the "florist shop" because of its glass roof. Following a parish meeting on Jan. 24, 1926, M. R. Sandel was hired to draw up plans for a combination church and school building, the cornerstone of which was laid on Aug. 8, 1926 by Msgr. Bona.

In June 1927, Cardinal Mundelein founded St. Turibius Church at 57th and Karlov Ave. Although it was established as a territorial parish, the members of St. Turibius Church were predominantly Polish.

On Oct. 2, 1927, Cardinal Mundelein dedicated the combination church and school building of St. Bruno parish which had been completed at the corner of 49th and Harding Ave. Under Father Gorski's leadership, the present convent at 4858 S. Springfield Ave. was acquired for the Felician Sisters; this order of women religious opened St. Bruno school in 1927. For more than 30 years, the parish priests resided in a building at 4749 S. Harding Ave.

An English-speaking parish, St. Richard, was organized in 1928 at 50th and Kostner Ave. less than a mile from St. Bruno Church. Nevertheless, St. Bruno parish continued to increase in membership. By 1930, 3,200 persons belonged to the parish and 654 students were enrolled in the school.

Few improvements could be made on the parish buildings during the Depression. In 1949, the church was redecorated. The 25th anniversary of the founding of the parish was celebrated on Oct. 8, 1950 with Samuel Cardinal Stritch presiding.

Father Gorski died on Feb. 16, 1953 at the age of 65 after serving the people of St. Bruno parish for 28 years. His successor, Rev. Francis P. Modrzenski, had been assistant at this parish since 1935 and from 1948 to 1953, he had served as administrator.

On June 26, 1955, ground at the southeast corner of 48th and Harding Ave. was broken for a new church. Most Rev. Vincent Brizgys, exiled Bishop of Kaunas, Lithuania, laid the cornerstone on Sept. 11, 1955. The modern brick edifice, designed by John Fox, was dedicated on Sept, 30, 1956 by Cardinal Stritch.

With the generous support of his congregation, Father Modrzenski was able to enlarge the convent in 1954 and to finance the construction of a new rectory at 4751 5. Harding Ave. which was dedicated on Mar. 20, 1960 by Albert Cardinal Meyer.

Father Modrzenski died on Sept. 13, 1962 following a long illness. His successor was Rev. Aloysius F. Przypyszny, former pastor of St. Stanislaus B. & M. Church in Posen, IL.

The new pastor made plans for an addition to St. Bruno school and ground was broken in June 1963. Unfortunately, Father Przypyszny did not live long enough to see the building completed; he died on Oct. 28, 1963.

Rev. Stanley C. Stoga, former pastor of St. Ann Church at 18th p1. and Leavitt St., was named pastor in December 1963. He directed the completion of the school building and with the support of his parishioners, he was able to retire the parish debt. An air conditioning system was installed in St. Bruno Church and the changes in liturgy authorized by Vatican II were implemented in the parish.

Named pastor emeritus in July 1974, Father Stoga now resides in Hickory Hills, IL.

Rev. Edmund S. Szlanga, former associate pastor of St. Rene Goupil Church, was appointed pastor on July 10, 1974. One of Father Szlanga's first concerns was the organization of a liturgy program for the children of the parish. He also was instrumental in the formation of an athletic program.

On Oct. 5, 1975, Auxiliary Bishop Alfred L. Abramowicz presided at the golden jubilee anniversary of the founding of St. Bruno parish. Eleven priests who had attended the parish school participated in the jubilee Mass.

On June 5, 1977, Father Szlanga broke ground at 4839 S. Harding Ave. for a gymnasium-parish center. The modern structure, designed by Chester Tobolski, has been in use since New Year's Day 1978.

Rev. Norman R. Trela and Rev. Edward A. Harasim are associate pastors and Rev. Lucian Luszczki, OFM is in residence. Two permanent deacons-Salvatore Villa and Joseph M. Sirvanovic-have been ordained from the parish.

Of the 1,900 families who now belong to St. Bruno Church, 14% are Polishborn and 80% are of Polish descent. The remaining 6% of parish membership includes families of other ethnic backgrounds, among them, Irish, Italian, and Spanish. Enrollment in St. Bruno school numbers 416 students under the direction of six Felician Sisters and nine lay teachers.

Active parish organizations include the School Board, Holy Name Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Mothers' Club, Choirs, Children of Mary Sodality, Rap Club, and scouting and athletic programs.

St. Bruno parish involves itself with the community and cooperates with local law enforcement agencies, the local civic group (Archer Heights Civic Association), Chicago Park District, and area public elementary and high schools. Members of St. Bruno Church "share" with Holy Family Church at Roosevelt Rd. and May St.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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