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St. Francis of Assisi Church at Augusta blvd. and Kostner Ave. was founded
in 1909 to serve Polish Catholics who lived on the northwest side of
Chicago in the territory bounded by North Ave. on the north; Chicago
Ave. on the south; 48th St. (Cicero Ave.) on the west; and 40th St. (Pulaski
Rd.) on the east.
According to the history of the parish published on Dec. 19, 1921 in
Dziennik Zjednoczenia (The Alliance Daily), the nucleus of St. Francis
of Assisi Church was branch # 636 of the Polish National Alliance. This
group called itself Synowie Polski (Sons of Poland).
As early as 1906, efforts were made to form a new Polish parish in the
area, but it was not until 1909 that Archbishop James E. Quigley established
this national parish. A census taken that year indicated that the list
of possible parishioners had grown from 60 to 160 families and that there
were 250 children of school age.
Rev. Joseph S. Pajkowski, an assistant at the Polish parish of St. Ann
at 18th p1. and Leavitt St., was appointed to organize St. Francis of
Assisi Church. Under his leadership, land was purchased on 44th St. (Kostner
Ave.) between Augusta blvd. and Cornelia Ave. (now Walton St.).
While construction was underway on a three story brick church and school
building at 4424 W. Walton St., Father Pajkowski celebrated Mass in a
hall at Thomas St. and Kostner Ave.
The cornerstone of the combination structure was laid on Dec. 19, 1909
by Auxiliary Bishop Paul P. Rhode, who returned to the parish on July
10, 1910 to dedicate the new brick building. The fact that the structure
is still in use is a testament to the quality of construction.
St. Francis of Assisi school was opened in 1912 under the direction of
five Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. This order staffed the parish
school until 1949, when the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual
Help from St. Louis, MO were placed in charge.
St. Francis of Assisi Church was organized within the limits of the territorial
parish of Our Lady of the Angels at Iowa st. and Hamlin Ave., which had
been founded in 1894. In 1915, the Slovak parish of SS. Cyril and Methodius
was established at Walton St. and Kildare Ave., just one block east of
St. Francis of Assisi Church.
In September 1915, Father Pajkowski was appointed pastor of St. Salomea
Church at 118th and Indiana Ave. on the south side of Chicago. His successor
was Rev. Francis J. Jagielski, who had been pastor of St. Salomea parish
from 1904 to 1912. He resided in part of the combination building until
1924, when a two story brick rectory was completed at 4418 W. Walton
St. By 1925, 428 students were enrolled in the parish school.
Father Jagielski's pastorate spanned the era between the two World Wars.
After serving the people of St. Francis of Assisi parish for 35 years,
he resigned his position in October 1950 due to failing health. Father
Jagielski died on Aug. 13, 1954 at St. Michael hospital in Stevens Point,
WI at the age of 83.
The third pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church was Rev. Francis T.
Czarny, who came to the parish from St. Wenceslaus Church at DeKoven
and Desplaines St. where he had been pastor since 1947.
Father Czarny appraised the parish's physical plant and embarked on a
program of renovation and construction. A new multi-level rectory with
modern lines in the Frank Lloyd Wright style of architecture was completed
at 932 N. Kostner Ave. in 1956. The former rectory was remodeled to provide
enlarged living quarters for the Franciscan Sisters.
In January 1957, a parish drive was organized to raise funds for a new
church. So successful was the campaign that Samuel Cardinal Stritch soon
approved plans for the project. On Labor Day, Sept. 2, 1957, ground was
broken at the southwest corner of Augusta Blvd. and Kostner Ave. The
cornerstone of the new church was laid on Dec. 15, 1957, and on Thanksgiving
Day, Nov. 28, 1958, Auxiliary Bishop Roman Atkielski of Milwaukee, WI
blessed the marble altars which had been imported from Italy.
Archbishop Albert 0. Meyer dedicated St. Francis of Assisi Church on
Apr. 26, 1959. The new edifice, designed in a modified Gothic style by
the architectural firm of Fox & Fox, had been completed at a cost
On Oct. 4, 1959, the 800 families of St. Francis of Assisi Church celebrated
the 50th anniversary of the founding of their parish. Auxiliary Bishop
Raymond P. Hillinger presided at the jubilee Mass. A parish dinner on
Oct. 11, 1959 completed the anniversary celebration.
Under Father Czarny's leadership, the church quarters in the combination
building were remodeled into additional classrooms, a library, and meeting
In September 1964, Rev. Stanley A. Dopak was appointed administrator
of St. Francis of Assisi Church. He came to the parish from Posen, IL,
where he had been pastor of St. Stanislaus B. & M. Church.
On Mar. 4, 1966, Father Czarny was named pastor emeritus and Father Dopak
was appointed pastor. Father Czarny celebrated the 50th anniversary of
his ordination on May 23, 1971; following his jubilee Mass, he was feted
by the people of St. Francis of Assisi Church. Father Czarny now resides
in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
During his pastorate, Father Dopak has directed the redecoration of the
church and the installation of a new heating and air conditioning system.
Rev. Edmund F. Guz is associate pastor and Thaddeus Lisowski is the first
permanent deacon to be ordained from the parish.
In 1978, 369 students were enrolled in St. Francis of Assisi school under
the direction of three Sisters of St. Francis and six lay teachers.
From "A History of
the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1980
Reprinted with the permission
of the Chicago Archdiocese.