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From 1893 to 1901, St. Stanislaus B & M Church at Belden and Lorel Ave. on the northwest side of Chicago was a mission of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church on Noble St. At the turn of the century, the neighborhood known as Cragin was a sparsely settled area. Since 1888, the few English-speaking Catholics who lived in the district attended Mass at the mission church of St. Genevieve, which was then located at 2013 N. Lavergne Ave.

Under the direction of Rev. Vincent Barzynski, CR, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, a modest frame building was erected on Long Ave., just south of Fullerton Ave. The mission of St. Stanislaus B. & M. was dedicated on June 18, 1893 and the first Mass in the new structure was celebrated on July 2, 1893. At the time, only seven Polish families made up the congregation.

For a few weeks, Rev. Theophil Szypkowski, CR, attended the mission. His successor was Rev. John Piechowski, CR, rector of St. Stanislaus College (now Weber high school) and pastor of St. Hyacinth Church from 1894 to 1895. He served the Polish mission in Cragin until 1895, when he was named pastor of St. Hedwig Church.

The next Resurrectionist who attended the mission church was Rev. Joseph Gieburowski, CR, pastor of St. Hyacinth Church. On Feb. 1, 1896, Rev. John Kruszynski, CR, rector of St. Stanislaus College, was named administrator. In 1897, he hired Cecilia Klinger to open a one-room parish school.

In May 1900, Rev. Florian Matuszewski, CR, was appointed administrator of the Cragin mission. He served until Oct. 21, 1901 when Rev. John Obyrtacz, CR was appointed the first resident pastor of St. Stanislaus B. & M. Church. In 1902, the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda began their work in the parish school. They moved into a convent which had been completed at 2313 N. Long Ave. at a cost of $3,551.75.

In 1903, a rectory was constructed at 2313 N. Lorel Ave. at a cost of $4,000. At the time, 111 families belonged to the Polish parish in Cragin. However within three years, the parish membership numbered 180 families and single persons. The $4,350 parish debt was liquidated in 1905.

When St. Stanislaus Church was destroyed by fire on Mar. 26, 1907, Father Obyrtacz and his parishioners made plans for a new brick combination church-school structure. Until the new edifice was ready, Mass was celebrated in Stephen Sergott's hall.

The cornerstone of the $50,000 church and school building was laid on July 21, 1907. St. Stanislaus B & M Church, designed by J. G. Steinbach and completed at 2321 N. Long Ave., was dedicated on Dec. 8, 1907 by Archbishop James E. Quigley. On May 3, 1908, new bells were blessed by Rev. Francis Gordon, CR, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

By the end of 1908, 238 families and 72 single persons belonged to the parish. When Father Obyrtacz was appointed pastor of St. Hedwig Church on Jan. 6, 1909, he was succeeded by Rev. Stanislaus Swierczek, CR.

In 1913, a parish hall was completed on Lorel Ave., just north of Belden Ave. St. Stanislaus parish was growing so rapidly that in June 1914, Archbishop Quigley established St. James parish to serve Polish families who lived in the Hanson Park neighborhood around Central Ave. Although it lost some of its members to the new parish, St. Stanislaus B. & M. parish continued to grow.

In 1917, the Resurrectionists opened St. Joseph Novitiate in the Cragin neighborhood. By 1918, the rectory had been relocated at 2309 N. Long Ave.

Out of respect for the many members of the parish involved in the war effort, only a simple ceremony marked the silver jubilee of the founding of St. Stanislaus B & M Church in August 1918. Members of this parish retained their sense of national identity throughout World War I. On Nov. 17, 1918, $18,000 was pledged by parishioners toward the organization of an army to fight for Poland's independence.

By 1920, more than 700 children attended St. Stanislaus B. & M. school. In order to relieve overcrowding, construction was begun on a school at 2318 N. Lorel Ave. which was completed at a cost of $71,000. The brick structure also contained rectory quarters for the priests of the parish. The old rectory at 2309 N. Long Ave. was remodelled as a convent. By 1926, 1,030 children were enrolled.

Under Father Swierczek's leadership, ground on the east side of Lorel Ave., directly north of Belden Ave., was broken for a new church. Before the edifice was completed, however, Father Swierczek was transferred to the pastorate of St. Hyacinth Church on Jan. 9, 1927. His successor was Rev. Francis Kubiaczyk, CR.

On Oct. 30, 1927, George Cardinal Mundelein dedicated the stately brick church of St. Stanislaus B & M which had been constructed on the site of the old parish hall. In 1928, a new convent was completed at 2342 N. Lore] Ave. at a cost of nearly $80,000. Under Father Kubiaczyk's direction, the interior of the church was decorated by Norbert Czarnowski.

Following Father Kubiaczyk's appointment as superior of St. Joseph Novitiate in 1932, Rev. Stanislaus Gadacz, CR, was named pastor. With the generous support of his congregation, Father Gadacz began to pay off the $183,000 parish debt. This would have been a difficult task at any time, but it was especially so during the Depression.

In 1936, Rev. Jerome Fabianski, CR, was named pastor. Under his leadership, the basement of the church was remodelled into an auditorium and recreation center. The new facility was dedicated on Jan. 16, 1938. On Sept. 18, 1938, hundreds of parishioners attended a special ceremony on the parish grounds where a large statue of the Sacred Heart was blessed. A final beautification project involved landscaping the vacant lot on Lorel Ave. between the convent and school in the form of a cross. The "Garden of Graces" was dedicated on May 24, 1942.

John A. Mallin, a well-known Chicago artist, redecorated the interior of the church in preparation for the golden jubilee of the parish, which was celebrated on May 9, 1943. When Father Fabianski resigned his pastorate in 1949, he was succeeded by Rev. Felix Miliszkiewicz, CR, who had grown up in St. Stanislaus B & M parish. He continued appeals for a much needed rectory. In addition to contributing funds for a parish residence, parishioners gave generously to the fund for a new Weber high school which opened in September 1950 at 5252 W. Palmer St., a block from St. Stanislaus B & M Church.

In 1952, Rev. Peter Lenczyk, CR, was named pastor. The Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda celebrated the 50th anniversary of their work in St. Stanislaus parish on Nov. 23, 1952. Father Lenczyk directed the construction of the present rectory which was completed by 1956 at 5352 W. Belden Ave.

Rev. Anthony Laskowski, CR, succeeded Father Lenczyk as pastor in 1958. During his tenure as pastor, the buildings of St. Stanislaus B & M parish were maintained in good order. On Sept. 15, 1968, John Cardinal Cody presided at the diamond jubilee of the founding of the parish. The 80th anniversary of the parish was celebrated on Apr. 29, 1973.

Father Laskowski retired in 1976. He died on Feb. 4, 1978 following a long Illness.

Rev. Eugene C. Szarek, CR, has been pastor of St. Stanislaus B & M Church since Aug. 4, 1976. A graduate of Weber high school, he was ordained in 1967. Father Szarek has been active in CCD, Pre Cana, and the Presbyteral Senate of the Archdiocese of Chicago and in 1973 he was appointed director of vocations for the Congregation of the Resurrection.

As a national parish, St. Stanislaus B & M serves Polish Catholics who live in the area bounded by Diversey Ave. on the north; Grand Ave. on the south; Central Ave. on the west; and Leamington Ave. on the east. Parish membership numbers 2,600 families and it is estimated that 40-50% of the parishioners are recent immigrants from Poland.

The Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda (now known as the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago) continue their work in the parish school. In 1978, 436 children were enrolled under the direction of nine Sisters and 12 lay teachers. More than a dozen organizations aid the spiritual and material growth of the parish. St. Stanislaus B & M parish is also involved in many community and civic projects aimed at improving the quality of life in the neighborhood.

Associate pastors include Rev. Walter Barron, CR; Rev. George Jendrach, CR; Rev. Andrew Jagielka, CR; and Rev. Edwin Michael, CR. Two permanent deacons-Zygfryd Oborski and Mitchell Szady - have been ordained from the parish.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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