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St. Hedwig Mission Church at 2445 N. Washtenaw Ave. was established
in 1939 to serve elderly members of St. Hedwig parish who lived in the
vicinity of Fullerton and Western Ave. Today it is the Archdiocesan Center
for the Deaf.
On Oct. 15, 1939, St. Hedwig Mission Church opened in the former Hungarian
Catholic Church of St. Emeric. The Hungarians purchased another church
building at 2015 W. Augusta Blvd. which was renamed St. Stephen King
of Hungary Church.
Under the direction of Rev. Francis Uzdrowski, CR, pastor of St. Hedwig
Church at Webster and Hoyne Ave., three Masses were celebrated every
Sunday in the Mission Church. In January 1942, Rev. Joseph Samborski,
CR, was named the first administrator of St. Hedwig Mission. He took
up residence in part of the basement hall until Aug. 6, 1942, when a
house at 2441 N. Washtenaw Ave. was purchased for use as a rectory.
Father Samborskj served as administrator until December 1943. He later
was appointed administrator of Our Lady of Fatima, the Mission Church
of St. Hyacinth parish.
Rev. Adalbert Kowalczyk, CR, served as administrator from January 1944
until August 1954. In 1945, the Mission Church was renovated and the
exterior of the building was improved.
Rev. John Szczepanik, CR, served as administrator from Sept. 12, 1954
until Aug. 16, 1958. He later was named administrator of Our Lady of
Fatima Mission Church.
Rev. Jerome Cwiak, CR, former assistant at St. John Cantius Church, served
as administrator from Oct. 3, 1958 until his death on July 29, 1961.
In August 1961, Rev. Joseph Siemiaszko, CR, a former assistant at St.
Hedwig Church, was named administrator. With the support of the congregation,
preparations were made for the 25th jubilee of the founding of St. Hedwig
Mission Church, which was celebrated on Oct. 11, 1964.
Rev. John Klek, CR, served as administrator from October 1968 until 1971,
when Rev. John Wojcik, CR, was placed in charge. The last Resurrectionist
to be named administrator was Rev. Mitchell J. Tadla, CR, and he served
from Apr. 9, 1972 until July 1978.
In June 1978, John Cardinal Cody announced the establishment of a center
for 6,000 Catholic deaf persons in Cook and Lake Counties and he appointed
Rev. Joseph A. Mulcrone, director of the Catholic Office of the Deaf,
as rector of St. Hedwig Mission Church, effective July 3, 1978. According
to The Chicago Catholic, the center provides "liturgical and social
activities for the Catholic deaf including a Mass celebrated in 'total
communication'-voice and sign language." One Mass is celebrated
in Polish every Sunday for the elderly members of St. Hedwig parish who
continue to worship at the Mission Church.
Work among the deaf in the Archdiocese of Chicago dates back to 1884
when Ephpheta School was organized in the Jesuit parish of Holy Family.
From 1909 to 1951, the school for deaf children was operated at 3150
N. Pulaski rd., now the site of Madonna high school for girls. Ephpheta
Center was then relocated at 330 W. Wellington Ave. In 1960, a chapel
known as Ephpheta Mission Center for the Deaf was established at 635
S. Ashland Ave. and between 1968 and 1978, services for the Catholic
deaf were concentrated at Holy Trinity Church at Taylor St. and Wolcott
Ave., located in the heart of the West Side Medical Center.
From "A History of
the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1980
Reprinted with the permission
of the Chicago Archdiocese.