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Officially established as a parish in 1894 by Rev. Stanislaus Nawrocki, pastor of St. Mary of Perpetual Help Church in Chicago, St. Stanislaus B & M parish was organized to serve approximately 20 Polish families who lived in West Harvey. This village, located 19 miles south of downtown Chicago, was renamed Posen when its population became heavily Polish.

It appears that from 1896 to 1898, the Polish community in Posen was attended by Rev. F. X. Kroll, pastor of St. Columba Church in the Hegewisch district of Chicago. In 1898, Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan entrusted the mission to the Resurrectionist Fathers who in turn appointed Rev. Serfino Cosimi, CR as pastor. In addition to his work with Polish Catholics, Father Cosimi also cared for Italian families who formed the nucleus of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church at 67th and Hermitage Ave. in Chicago. Catholic directories for 1899 and 1900 indicate that St. Stanislaus Church was a mission of the Italian parish.

A history of St. Stanislaus B & M parish written by John Iwicki, CR contains the information that

Father Cosimi proved to be an energetic pastor. He built the parish school and hall and arranged for lay teachers to staff the school. So completely did Father Cosimi win the confidence of the citizens of Posen, that they elected him mayor of the village by a unanimous vote, in 1900. His administration was marked by many civic improvements which included the erection of gas lights on the streets of the town and the building of sidewalks.

In June 1902, St. Stanislaus became a separate parish under the direction of a diocesan priest, Rev. August Koytek, a former assistant at St. Josaphat Church in Chicago. Father Cosimi continued to serve as pastor of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church until his death on Jan. 10, 1906. According to The New World of July 5, 1902, Father Koytek was also placed in charge of the Polish community in Blue Island known as St. Isidore Church.

In November 1903, Father Koytek was appointed to organize Assumption, BVM Church for Polish Catholics living in the West Pullman neighborhood of Chicago. Father Kroll returned to Posen where he served as pastor until 1904, when Rev. Louis Szczygiel was placed in charge. In 1906, Rev. Peter H. Pyterek, a former assistant at the Polish parish of St. Joseph in Chicago, was named pastor.

Baptismal records for St. Isidore Church in Blue Island were recorded at St. Stanislaus Church until 1911, when the mission was raised to the status of a parish. Father Pyterek left Posen to become the first resident pastor of St. Isidore Church in March 1911; he was succeeded by Rev. John F. Robakowski, a former assistant at the Polish parish of SS. Peter and Paul in Chicago.

A history of St. Stanislaus parish contains the information that

In 1913 [Posen] 'The Only Polish City in America' invited prospective investors to a 'Big Polish Picnic.' Baseball, dancing and refreshments were offered and lots could be purchased for $5 down and $1 a week. St. Stan's of course prospered as relatives and friends moved south to join the original settlers.

Shortly before he retired, Father Robakowski broke ground for a new parish school at 14430 5. McKinley Ave. This brick structure was completed under the leadership of Rev. Felix Kachnowski, a former assistant at Holy Innocents Church in Chicago, who began his pastorate in Posen in 1924. When the new school opened in 1925, it was under the direction of the Felician Sisters of Chicago; this order of women religious replaced the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda who had staffed the school.

The Depression had a profound effect upon Posen, which was still very much of a rural community in spite of its location near Blue Island, which then contained many factories. According to a history of the parish

The village was paralyzed. Parishioners turned to their church for help and consolation .... Father Kachnowski realized that 'without bread a man cannot pray,' and devoted his attention to the material welfare of the town. He brought Posen's plight to the attention of the federal government and a Federal Works Project was set up. This project gave the men work, a paycheck, and restored their diginity as heads of families. It also gave the town the sewers, roads and water supply it needed.

Through the generosity of the parishioners, the debt on the school was wiped out by the end of the 1930s. In July 1940, Father Kachnowski was named pastor of Assumption, BVM Church in West Pullman and Rev. Stanislaus A. Rozak was appointed pastor of St. Stanislaus B & M Church. An author of religious books, pamphlets, and plays, Father Rozak was a former professor at Quigley
Preparatory Seminary and he also had served as superior of the Polish Mission Band of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

In preparation for the 50th jubilee of St. Stanislaus parish many improvements were made in the parish complex. The school was renovated, the sanctuary and choir loft were enlarged, and new altars and confessionals were built. Much of this work was done by high school age boys. The Sisters' old convent was sold and moved away and living quarters were provided in the school hail. According to a history of the parish

During this burst of building and remodeling, St. Stan's provided the
town with a library. Space was allocated in the lower floor of the rectory
fat 14414 S. McKinley Ave.]. Soon, because of the cooperation of all, the
library was stocked with eight hundred books and opened to the public.

Archbishop Samuel A. Stritch presided at the special golden jubilee Mass which was celebrated on June 6, 1943.

In April 1954, Father Rozak was named pastor of the Polish parish of SS. Peter and Paul in Chicago and Rev. Anthony C. Rydecki, a former assistant at St. John of God Church in the city, was appointed pastor of St. Stanislaus B & M Church.

By the mid 1950s, Posen had become a cosmopolitan community as families of many ethnic backgrounds purchased newly built homes in the area. Enrollment in the school increased steadily, and with it the need for more teachers. To provide modern living quarters for the Felician Sisters, Father Rydecki directed the construction of a new convent at 14422 S. Mc Kinley Ave. Ground for this brick building was broken in July 1955 and the convent was completed later that year at a cost of $90,000.

Father Rydecki died on Sept. 16, 1955 at the age of 58. His successor at St. Stanislaus was Rev. Louis W. Handzel, a former assistant at St. Valentine Church in Cicero, IL The new pastor saw the need for a social center complete with gymnasium, and four classrooms. The cornerstone was laid in November 1958 and the project was completed at a cost of $254,000 according to the plans of architect Joseph L. Bennett. At the time Father Handzel was named pastor of St. Constance Church in Chicago in the spring of 1960, 507 children were enrolled in St. Stanislaus school under the direction of nine Felician Sisters and two lay teachers.

Rev. Aloysius F. Przypyszny, a former chaplain at St. Mary of Nazareth hospital in Chicago, served the Catholics of Posen from March 1960 until September 1962, when he was named pastor of St. Bruno Church in the city.

Rev. Stanislaus Dopak, a former chaplain at St. Elizabeth hospital in Chicago, served as pastor from the fall of 1962 until the fail of 1964, when he was named administrator of the Polish parish of St. Francis Assisi in Chicago where he later was appointed pastor.

A member of the staff of the Associated Catholic Charities since 1945, Rev. Msgr. Bernard E. Sokolowski was named pastor of St. Stanislaus parish in September 1964. In 1960, when he was serving as associate director of the Catholic Charity Bureau, Department of Family Care (an agency of Catholic Charities), Msgr. Sokolowski was appointed to serve on the state committee investigating problems of personal adjustment among the aged. This committee was one of several in the state of Illinois to report on the needs of the aged in preparation for the White House Conference on Aging held in Washington, D.C. in January 1961.

Built for a small Catholic population in the 1890s, St. Stanislaus Church at 14426 S. McKinley Ave. was no longer large enough to serve the many families who lived in suburban Posen in the early 1960s. Because the school facilities were also inadequate, Msgr. Sokolowski made plans for a new parish complex including church, rectory, and school addition. An indication of the generosity and commitment of parishioners to this project was the fact that they liquidated a $125,000 debt within a year. Property for the six classroom school addition was purchased and a residence and garage on the site were razed along with the old rectory at 14414 S. McKinley Ave.

The groundbreaking ceremony on July 9, 1967 for the new church turned out to be a village event. The festivities included a parade through the streets of Posen and an open air benediction of the parish grounds. Completed at 14410 S. McKinley Ave., the circular style church of St. Stanislaus incorporated the liturgical changes authorized by the Second Vatican Council. According to architect James R. Cronin, the modernistic structure was designed in such a way that the outside wall sweeps around the church, rising to a belltower.

Just as St. Stanislaus Church and rectory were nearing completion, the old frame church was demolished. The dedication of the new edifice, performed by John Cardinal Cody on May 25, 1969, coincided with the 75th anniversary of the founding of St. Stanislaus parish. According to the diamond jubilee history

Posen is in many ways unlike the average suburb; it is more than a residential area accidentally located near an economic center. The village has the continuity and history necessary to make a community. Since Posen is 95% Catholic, the history of the village closely parallels the history of St. Stanislaus Church.

Active parish groups include the Holy Name Society, Mothers Club, Rosary Ladies, Third Order of St. Francis, Choir, Children of Mary, Young Ladies Sodality, and Ushers Club.

St. Stanislaus parish now serves approximately 1,000 families who live in the area bounded by 139th St. on the north; 152nd St. on the south; Kedzie Ave. on the west; and Western Ave. on the east. The parish includes all of Posen and a small section of Markham and Harvey, IL The Tri-State Tollway (1-294) crosses Interstate 1-57 at the south end of the parish.

In 1978, 460 children were enrolled in St. Stanislaus B & M school under the direction of nine Felician Sisters and 10 lay teachers. Rev. Frank P. Cassidy is associate pastor.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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