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St. Isidore Church at Burr Oak Ave. and Wood St. was established in 1900 to serve Polish Catholics living in Blue Island, a town 16 miles south of downtown Chicago. Efforts at organizing a parish began in 1899 under the leadership of a group of Poles who formed "The Polish Church and Building Society." A bazaar sponsored by this group in 1899 netted $1,200 toward the proposed new parish.

Rev. Casimir I. Gronkowski, pastor of St. Salomea Church at 118th and Indiana Ave. in Chicago, was instrumental in the formation of the new national parish in Blue Island. After preliminary studies had been made by Archdiocesan officials, he hired architect William J. Brinkman to draw up plans for a two story combination church-school structure to be built on land which had been donated by a real estate developer named Geis. Construction proceeded rapidly and St. Isidore Church at 12728 S. Wood St. was dedicated on Dec. 25, 1900 by Rev. Francis Wojtalewicz, pastor of the Polish parish of Immaculate Conception in South Chicago.

Apparently, St. Isidore parish was cared for from St. Salomea Church until June 1902, when it was attached to St. Stanislaus B. & M. Church in Posen, IL, a village directly south of Blue Island. Among the pastors of St. Stanislaus Church who cared for the Poles of Blue Island were Rev. Francis X. Kroll, Rev. Louis Szczygiel, and Rev. Peter H. Pyterek. Prior to 1911, baptismal records were kept at St. Stanislaus Church in Posen.

On Apr. 1, 1911, The New World announced that Father Pyterek had left St. Stanislaus parish to take up permanent residence in Blue Island as pastor of St. Isidore Church. Under his leadership, the parish building was enlarged and living quarters were provided on the first floor of the combination building for the Felician Sisters who took charge of the parish school in October 1912.

When Father Pyterek left Blue Island in June 1913 to organize St. Helen parish in Chicago, he was succeeded by Rev. Theodore Czastka, a former assistant at St. Casimir Church in the city. In September 1914, Father Czastka was named pastor of Holy Rosary Church in North Chicago, IL, and Rev. Stanislaus Doberstein, a former assistant at St. John of God Church, began his work in Blue Island. Under Father Doberstein's leadership, a new belfry was built, the interior of the church was remodeled, and a building was purchased and relocated at 12732 S. Wood St. for use as a convent. A history of St. Isidore Church written in 1920 contains the information that: "The parish has now over two hundred parishioners and a good future, on account of the factories which are to be built in the near neighborhood."

Following Father Doberstein's appointment as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Chicago Heights, IL, Rev. 1. J. Nowak, a former assistant at the Polish parish of SS. Peter and Paul in the city, was named pastor in May 1928. On Oct. 15, 1930, tragedy struck the parish when a fire destroyed the church quarters. The fire department labored for four hours to fight the blaze and to their credit, the classrooms were saved.

Arrangements were made with the pastor of St. Donatus Church and for more than a year, members of St. Isidore parish attended Mass at the Italian Catholic Church at Division and Union sts. According to a history of the parish

Immediately the parishioners tried their utmost to build a new church but [George] Cardinal Mundelein opposed it trying to incorporate St. Isidore's parish into St. Donatus parish. However, the parishioners objected to this vehemently. The Cardinal then relented and the laying of the foundation for the new church had [sic] begun. Another obstacle raised its head. This time lack of funds seemed to block the efforts of the parishioners. Cardinal Mundelein refused to loan the necessary money to the parish. For three months the status quo remained. Finally, even this obstacle was removed.

Construction resumed on the Romanesque-Spanish style brick church located at the southwest corner of Burr Oak Ave. and Wood St. and Mass in the new structure was celebrated for the first time in July 1931. St. Isidore Church was formally dedicated on Oct. 9, 1932 by Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. Sheil.

Following Father Nowak's resignation due to illness in August 1935, Rev. Joseph Drzymala, a former assistant at the Polish parish of Sacred Heart in Chicago, was named pastor. He guided the parish through the remainder of the Depression and through World War II. Following Father Drzymala's death on Mar. 9, 1946 at the age of 54, Rev. Felix Feldheim was named pastor. He came to Blue Island from Evanston, IL, where he had served as first pastor of Ascension of Our Lord parish.

Samuel Cardinal Stritch presided at the golden jubilee anniversary of St. Isidore parish which was celebrated on Oct. 29, 1950. Also participating in this special Mass of Thanksgiving was Father Gronkowski (then pastor of St. Adalbert Church in Chicago), who had begun the work of organizing this Polish parish 50 years before.

A parish historian, probably Father Feidheim, explained the decline in school enrollment which had taken place in St. Isidore parish in this way:

It is now a conviction with the people, erroneous as it is, that children
are not necessary. If they d have children, one or two is the limit. For this reason we have only four classrooms, and the total of pupils is 153.

One of the reasons for the low school enrollment may in fact have been the condition of the school facilities: classes were still being held in the original frame building erected in 1900. Following the 1930 fire, the top level of this structure had been removed, leaving the classrooms. Although the pastor had purchased property at a cost of $11,902.26 for a new school in 1948, a modern school and gymnasium were not built for eight years. A one-story brick school structure, located at 12733 S. Wood St., was dedicated on May 26, 1957. The day held special meaning for the pastor as it marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination.

Following his retirement in 1960, Father Feidheim lived at St. Andrew's Home for the Aged in Niles, Ill, until his death on Mar. 10, 1971 at the age of 91. Rev. Theodore Kaczoroski, former member of the Archdiocesan Mission Band (Group Two) since 1940, was named pastor of St. Isidore Church in May 1960, a post he retained until 1961 when he was appointed pastor of St. Casimir Church in Chicago.

The next pastor, Rev. Joseph C. Przybylowicz, came to Blue Island in 1961 from Chicago where he had served as an assistant at the Polish parish of St. Francis of Assisi. Under his leadership, a new convent was constructed in 1963 at 12751 S. Wood St.

Named pastor of St. Mary of Czestochowa Church in Cicero, IL on Mar. 4, 1966, Father Przybylowicz was succeeded in Blue Island by Rev. Sylvester W. Dudzinski. Prior to this appointment, Father Dudzinski had served as an assistant at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Chicago.

The 75th anniversary of the founding of St. Isidore parish was celebrated on Oct. 26, 1975. At the time, 550 families belonged to the parish and 240 children were enrolled in the school under the direction of four Felician Sisters and five lay teachers. In 1975, parts of the parish grounds not occupied by buildings were transformed into a recreational field which is used for Little League Baseball, Girls' Softball League games, and the Rams Football Teams.

During the years, many groups and societies have been formed in St. Isidore parish and through their efforts, they have made the community a wonderful place in which to live, work, and rear their children. Active parish groups include the School Board, Parish Council, Holy Name Society, Women's Club, and Athletic Committee. In 1978, parish membership numbered 540 families with 168 children enrolled in the school.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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