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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.

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