Polish Genealogical Society of America Members Log in/Log out
 
   
   
 

     
 
Header Left  St. Stanislaus Kostka Church History Header Right
 
 

BACK TO THE LIST

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church at the southeast corner of Noble St. and Evergreen Ave. was the first Polish parish established in Chicago. In the 1860s, Polish families settled near the Rolling MIL district along the North Branch of the Chicago River. As many of these families were Kashubes, that is, Germanspeaking Poles, they attended Mass in the German parishes of St. Michael and St. Joseph.

In February 1864, Rev. Leopold Moczygema, BM came to Chicago to hear the Easter confessions of Polish Catholics. About 1864, the St. Stanislaus Kostka Benevolent Society was formed. This group became the moving force behind the organization of a Polish parish. In 1867, the Society purchased four lots at Noble and Bradley St. (now Potomac Ave.) at a cost of $1,700.

Between 1866 and 1869, two Slav priests ministered to the Polish Catholics of Chicago: Rev. Francis X. Szulak, SJ (Shulak) and Rev. Joseph Molitor. The latter had been named pastor of St. Wenceslaus Church at DeKoven and Desplaines St. in October 1866.

During this period, Peter Kiolbassa, the leader of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Society, and Rev. Joseph P. Roles, pastor of Holy Name Church, were corresponding with the Resurrectionist Fathers in Rome in an attempt to secure Polish-speaking priests. About April 1869, Rev. John Wollowski, CR conducted a mission for Polish Catholics in St. Joseph Church, which was then located at Chicago and Wabash Ave.

In September 1869, work began on a two story frame church at Noble and Bradley St. according to the plans of architect Julian S. Pietruszek.

After several delays, the Resurrectionist Fathers appointed Father Wollowski to be in charge of the Polish Catholics of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. He arrived in Chicago on Nov. 1, 1869 only to find that a diocesan priest, Rev. Joseph Juskiewicz, had been named pastor in October 1869.

The more nationalistically oriented members of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish opposed the appointment of Father Juskiewicz because he was a Lithuanian, not a Pole. Moreover, the title to the church had been drawn up in the name of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Society, contrary to diocesan regulations. Bishop Thomas Foley refused to dedicate St. Stanislaus Kostka Church until the title was conveyed to the Catholic Bishop of Chicago, Corporation Sole.

Violence broke out in the parish in 1870 when six men beat Father Juskiewicz
and threatened him to resign his pastorate. In his study, The American Faith and
the Persistence of Chicago Polonia, 1870-1920 Joseph John Parot states that Rev. Adolph Bakanowski, CR was in Chicago during the summer of 1870, and that dissatisfied members of the parish requested him to become pastor. He refused, and the attack on Father Juskiewicz followed shortly thereafter.

Following Father Juskiewicz's departure for Mount Carmel, Pa. in September 1870, Bishop Foley appointed Father Bakanowski to care for the members of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. Under his leadership, the title to the church was given to the Catholic Bishop of Chicago. As a result, Bishop Foley dedicated St. Stanislaus Kostka Church on June 18, 1871. In its account of the ceremony, the Chicago Times noted:

The Polish church, on the corner of Bradley and Noble streets, which
was a bone of contention between the pastor and congregation last fall, was consecrated . . . by Bishop Foley and 200 members were confirmed. Three sermons were delivered during the exercises, one of which was in English, one in German, and the other in Polish.

Attending the dedication were members of a new group, the Society of St. Joseph, which had been organized in St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in February 1871. Before long, this Society was at odds with the older St. Stanislaus Kostka Benevolent Society.

In July 1871, Rev. Jerome Kajsiewicz, CR, General of the Resurrection Order, visited Chicago and met with Bishop Foley. So impressed was Bishop Foley with the accomplishments of the Resurrectionists in Chicago, that he gave this Order the right to staff all Polish parishes formed in the Chicago diocese for the next 99 years.

In 1872, St. Adalbert cemetery was organized by Polish and Bohemian Catholics on 21 acres of land in Niles, IL On Nov. 14, 1872, members of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Benevolent Society celebrated the seventh anniversary of the founding of their organization.

Although St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was not destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871, by 1872 it had become overcrowded. Father Bakanowski called a parish meeting to decide whether St. Stanislaus Kostka Church should be enlarged or whether another church should be built in the parish. The Society of St. Joseph was given permission to sponsor the construction of a church. They purchased land on Noble St. near Chapin St. and in 1873, Holy Trinity Church was constructed.

A 20 year struggle ensued during which time members of the Society of St. Joseph fought to have Holy Trinity Church established as a separate parish, one which would not be under the control of the Resurrectionist Fathers. An account of this conflict, which divided the Polish community into two factions-Stanislawowo (St. Stanislaus Kostka) and Trojcowo (Holy Trinity) - can be found in the history of Holy Trinity parish.

When Father Bakanowski was recalled to Rome in May 1873, Rev. John Wollowski, CR, his assistant, was named pastor. He served the people of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church until Sept. 15, 1873, when Rev. Felix Zwiardowski, CR was placed in charge.

When Father Zwiardowski secured the services of the School Sisters of Notre Dame from Milwaukee, WI to open a school, he was accused by some of his parishioners of trying to "Germanize" the Polish children of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. Nevertheless, 150 students attended school when it opened on Feb. 2, 1874. By the fall of that year, 350 children were enrolled under the direction of the Notre Dame Sisters.

Following Father Zwiardowski's return to Texas, Rev. Simon Wieczorek, CR served as pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church from July to September 1874. The real growth of the parish is associated with the pastorate of Rev. Vincent Barzynski, CR, who began his work in St. Stanislaus Kostka Church on Sept. 18, 1874. One of the founders of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA), Father Barzynski was instrumental in the organization of a number of Polish parishes throughout the diocese.

Polish parishes in the city of Chicago which were organized by Father Barzynski include St. Hedwig, St. John Cantius, St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr, St. Hyacinth, and St. Mary of the Angels.

In October 1874, a convent was begun to house the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Also completed in 1874 was a rectory on Ingraham St. (now Evergreen Ave.). Father Barzynski then turned his attention to the construction of a larger church. His plans were to build one huge structure and to use Holy Trinity Church as a parish school or hall. This decision was opposed by members of the Society of St. Joseph, who considered Holy Trinity Church as their own.

In 1875, land was purchased at Noble and Ingraham St. and in 1876, work began on St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. In its account of the cornerstone laying which took place on July 1, 1877, the Chicago Tribune commented:

The new church is situated on the corner of Noble and Ingraham streets, immediately east of the old church, and is 80 x 200 feet in dimen- sions, of the Romanesque order of architecture, built of white brick with stone trimmings, and when completed wIL be quite an imposing and a very commodious house of worship.

Mass in the lower church was celebrated on Christmas Eve 1877. Work continued on the magnificent edifice according to the plans of architect P. C. Keely. Finally, on July 10, 1881, St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was dedicated.

In 1889, a large school was constructed in St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. Located at Noble and Bradley St., it contained 16 classrooms, four meeting halls, and a large auditorium.

In 1890, St. Stanislaus College (later renamed Weber high school) was organized in the old frame church. This was the first secondary school established by the Resurrectionists in the United States. In 1899, St. Stanislaus College was relocated at 1456 W. Division St. in a four story brick building. It remained at this location for the next 50 years.

In 1892, the twin towers of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church were completed at a cost of $99,850. In its 25th year, St. Stanislaus Kostka was the largest Polish parish in the world. On Dec. 10, 1892, The New World reported that:

Owing to the rapid growth of this parish and the large territory it
covers, it was deemed advisable to divide it, as it is impossible for one church to accommodate this rapidly growing congregation. A new parish wIL be made early next year and a church built in the neighborhood of Chicago avenue and Carpenter streets for the Polish residents of that vicinity.

Although Father Barzynski had already organized St. Hedwig and St. Hyacinth parishes, St. John Cantius Church was the first real division of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. On Apr. 8, 1893, The New World reported that: "Arrangements for the building operations on the new Polish Church on Chicago avenue and Carpenter street are now completed and work will begin in about a week."

In June 1893, the long standing controversy over Holy Trinity Church was resolved by Archbishop Francis Satolli, the Apostolic Delegate, who placed the parish in charge of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in South Bend, IN. Under the leadership of Rev. Casimir Sztuczko, CSC, whose pastorate spanned 56 years, Holy Trinity parish flourished. The present church of Holy Trinity was constructed in 1906 on Noble St., midway between the German Catholic Church of St. Boniface at Cornell (now Chestnut) St. and St. Stanislaus Kostka Church at Ingraham St. (now Evergreen Ave.).

Father Barzynski died on May 2, 1899. His successor was Rev. John Kasprzyski, CR, who had been the first pastor of St. John Cantius Church. He acquired the White Eagle Turner hail which was remodeled-at a total cost of $65,000-as a recreation center for the youth of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish.

In order to provide more classroom and convent quarters, the parish auditorium was remodeled. This building, which provided 24 new classrooms, was rededicated on Oct. 23, 1904.

Following Father Kasprzycki's election as Superior General of the Resurrection Order, Rev. Francis Gordon, CR was named pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church on Jan. 6, 1906. He had been the first pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Church.

Construction of a new convent, school, and auditorium began in the spring of 1906. The complex was nearing completion when it was destroyed by fire on Dec. 22, 1906. Also destroyed in this fire was the original St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Until a new convent could be built, the Sisters resi4ed in the old St. Mary of Nazareth hospital at 511 W. Division St. In August 1907, the School Sisters of Notre Dame moved into their new quarters. The parish auditorium was dedicated on Jan. 1, 1908.

On May 10, 1908, the five story brick school at the northeast corner of Noble St. and Potomac Ave. was dedicated. At the time, 5,438 families belonged to St. Stanislaus Kostka parish and 4,500 children were enrolled in the school.

In 1909, Father Gordon returned to St. Mary of the Angels parish and Rev. Stanislaus Rogalski, CR was named pastor. He was succeeded in 1912 by Rev.
Stanislaus Siatka, CR. In 1915, Rev. Francis Dembinski, CR was appointed pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

In 1914, the School Sisters of Notre Dame established a two year commercial high school course for girls. The golden jubilee of the founding of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was celebrated on Nov. 4, 1917.

In 1920, Rev. John Obyrtacz, CR, pastor of St. Hedwig Church, was named pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. He was succeeded in September 1923 by Rev. Thaddeus Ligman, CR, who had been principal of St. Stanislaus College.

The golden jubilee of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America was celebrated on Nov. 18, 1923 in St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. On Feb. 3, 1924, the School Sisters of Notre Dame celebrated the 50th year of their work in the parish school.

In the 1920s, parish membership declined somewhat as Polish families moved to newer parishes on the northwest side of Chicago. Nevertheless in 1925, 2,700 children were enrolled in St. Stanislaus Kostka school, making it the second largest grammar school in the Archdiocese. Nearby Holy Trinity school at 1135 N. Cleaver St. enrolled 2,904 children.

Rev. Stanislaus Siatka, CR returned as pastor in 1925. On Nov. 11, 1928, an addition to St. Stanislaus College was blessed. The four story brick structure, located at 1521 W. Haddon Ave., contained a gymnasium, cafeteria, and classrooms. Two years later, St. Stanislaus College was renamed Weber high school after Archbishop Joseph Weber, CR, formerly of Lwow, Poland.

In January 1929, Rev. John Drzewiecki, CR was named pastor. Under his leadership, the present rectory at 1351 W. Evergreen Ave. was completed in 1929. The three story brick building, which replaced the old parish residence, was designed by the architectural firm of Sandel and Strong.

On Jan. 5, 1935, Rev. Bruno Lazarowicz, CR was named pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. By 1939, a four year high school for girls was in operation under the direction of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

In June 1940, the golden jubilee of the founding of St. Stanislaus College was celebrated. The 75th anniversary of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was observed on Sept. 27, 1942 and the 75th anniversary of the Resurrectionists' coming to Chicago was celebrated on Nov. 22, 1945.

In 1948, Rev. Stanislaus Fiolek, CR was named pastor. He served the parish until July 1951, when Rev. Valentine Lesiak, CR was appointed pastor.
On Aug. 24, 1949, the Resurrectionists broke ground for a new boys' high school at Palmer St. and Lockwood Ave. The new Weber high school was dedicated on Sept. 6, 1950.

In the fall of 1950, the Resurrection Fathers opened a technical branch of Weber high school in the old St. Stanislaus College buildings at 1456 W. Division St. and 1521 W. Haddon Ave. In September 1952, this program was reorganized as Gordon Technical high school. In 1962, Gordon Tech was relocated at 3633 N. California Ave.

In the 1950s, plans for the Northwest (now John F. Kennedy) expressway were made. As envisioned, the expressway would cut through the parish property. This would necessitate the demolition of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church as well as several of the parish buildings. Opposition to the plan came from the large Polish Catholic community in the city which regarded St. Stanislaus Kostka Church as the "mother parish" of Chicago's Polonia.

The route of the expressway was extended eastward, and the removal of parish buildings was kept to a minimum: the heating plant was razed and 12 classrooms were demolished. The old school building at 1366 W. Potomac Ave. was reconstructed and work began on a new high school.

Rev. Casimir V. Polinski, CR, who was appointed pastor in 1957, directed the construction of the new high school and convent building at 1255 N. Noble St. This modern brick and glass structure was ready for classes in September 1959. On Nov. 5, 1960, the Northwest expressway was opened from Lake St. to Foster Ave.

Many of the Polish families whose homes were in the path of the expressway relocated in other parishes on the northwest side of Chicago. Not only was the base of support for the parish diminished, but the reimbursement from the State of ILinois did not cover the expenses incurred in building the new high school and in remodeling the old grammar shcool.

Between 1955 and 1959, enrollment in the grammar school declined from 1,121 to 901 students. During this period, however, enrollment in St. Stanislaus Kostka high school increased, from 305 to 350 girls.

On July 23, 1961, Rev. Marian A. Kaleth, CR was named pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. As a result of the liturgical changes made by Vatican II, Masses in the Polish language were introduced in St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

In the wake of the massive urban renewal which accompanied the building of the Kennedy expressway, a new community group, Northwest Community Organization, was formed. The parish is a member of this group.

In the evening of June 19, 1964, lightning struck the south tower of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Shortly after midnight, fire broke out in the tower, destroying half of the structure. Since the cost of rebuilding was prohibitive, the tower was leveled, and the insurance money was used to pay off part of the parish debt.

The 100th anniversary of the founding of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish was celebrated on Oct. 29, 1967. At the time, 461 students were enrolled in the grammar school and 352 girls were enrolled in the high school.

In October 1974, Rev. Francis S. Rog, CR was named pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish.

Due to the inability of the Congregation of the Holy Cross to provide Polishspeaking priests for Holy Trinity parish, the Resurrectionists were given charge of the parish on July 1, 1975. Rev. Casimir V. Polinski, CR, a former pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, became the first Resurrectionist administrator of Holy Trinity Church in 82 years.

Following Father Rog's election as Provincial Superior of the Chicago Province of the Congregation of the Resurrection, Rev. Richard P. Balazs, CR was named pastor effective Jan. 21, 1976. A graduate of Weber high school, he had been elected Assistant Provincial in 1975.

On Dec. 14, 1976, Father Balazs and the School Sisters of Notre Dame announced that as a result of declining enrollment, St. Stanislaus high school would close in June 1977. Subsequently, children in the grammar school began attending classes in the former high school building at 1255 N. Noble St. The old brick grade school at 1355 W. Potomac Ave. was used for meetings and social gatherings until the fall of 1978 when it was razed.

In the early 1970s, a number of Spanish-speaking families from Puerto Rico and Mexico joined the parish. To meet the needs of these new parishioners, Father Balazs and associate pastor Rev. Raymond Szczuka, CR learned to speak Spanish.

On Christmas Eve 1977, members of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish attended a special anniversary Mass: 100 years earlier, on Dec. 24,, 1877, Polish families had worshiped in the basement of the present church for the first time.

On Dec 21, 1979, St. Stanislaus Kostka parish was profiled in The Chicago
Catholic (formerly The New World). According to the article, parish membership then included 400-500 Hispanic families who lived in the area bounded by North Ave. on the north; Division St. on the south; Damen Ave. on the west; and Elston Ave. on the east as well as an equal number of Polish families who lived outside the neighborhood. A third group served by the parish is composed of black families. Although the majority of blacks who live in the area are not Catholic, a number send their children to the parish school. Of the 260 children enrolled in 1979, 35% were Anglo-Polish, 35% were black, and 30% were Latino. The faculty includes School Sisters of Notre Dame and lay teachers.

Rev. Joseph F. Malczyk, CR has been pastor since Jan. 1, 1980. Ordained in 1969, Father Malczyk taught Spanish at Weber high school prior to his appointment as pastor of this historic parish.

The "mother parish" of Chicago Polonia, St. Stanislaus Kostka is now trilingual in character: the Sunday schedule of Masses includes two in English, one in Polish, and one in Spanish. Active parish organizations are the Mothers' Club, Holy Name Society, Senior Citizens, Novitiate Society, Spanish Society, Rosary Ladies, Ladies' and Girls' Apostolate of Prayer, St. Therese Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and St. Cecilia Senior Choir. The parish supports a "Union of Societies" which operates as a Parish Council. A Youth Ministry Group has been organized by James Platt; he also established a guitar group which provides music at Sunday Mass.

Associate pastors of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church include Rev. Raymond Szczuka, CR; Rev. Joaquin Guaman, CR; and Rev. Leonard Prusinski, CR. Nicholas Flores and Angel Luis Mercado serve as permanent deacons.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

Top of Page

 
   
 
 

Home | Directory | About Us | Membership | PGSA Store | Contact Us | Site Map
© 1978-2014 Polish Genealogical Society of America, All rights reserved.
Website questions: webmaster@pgsa.org