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St. Turibius Church at 57th and Karlov Ave. on the southwest side of Chicago was founded in 1927 by George Cardinal Mundelein to serve the growing number of Catholic families who had settled in the area bounded by 55th St. on the north; 59th St. on the south; Cicero Ave. on the west; and the Grand Trunk railroad tracks at Central Park Ave. on the east. Although it was established as an English-speaking, territorial parish, St. Turibius has remained a predominantly Polish parish.

Rev. Alexis S. Gorski, pastor of St. Bruno Church at 48th and Harding Ave., was instrumental in the formation of this parish. Prior to 1927 he had organized area Catholic men and women into branches of the Holy Name Society and Rosary Society.

Cardinal Mundelein appointed Rev. Thomas Smyk, former assistant at St. Mary of Perpetual Help Church, as pastor and he celebrated Mass for his small congregation on July 3, 1927 in the assembly hall of the Peck school at 59th and Hamlin Ave. Father Smyk's tenure as pastor was short-lived: in December 1927 he was appointed to organize St. Susanna parish in Harvey, IL. His successor was Rev. Francis A. Kuiinski, a former assistant at the Polish parish of St. Joseph.

In 1928, St. Richard Church was organized at 50th and Kostner Ave. to serve English-speaking Catholics who lived in the territory north of 55th St. between Cicero Ave. and Crawford Ave. (now Pulaski Rd.).

Despite the onset of the Depression, Father Kulinski was able to finance the construction of a small frame church at 56th Pl. and Karlov Ave. which contained accommodations for 300 people. A combination building also was constructed at 4134 W. 57th St. which served as a parish hail, school, and convent for the Felician Sisters who taught the children of the parish. The pastor lived in a building at 4115 W. 56th St. which had been remodeled as a rectory.

By 1930, about 500 persons belonged to St. Turibius Church and 145 children were enrolled in the parish school. Following Father Kulinski's appointment as pastor of St. Florian Church, Rev. Joseph Mszanowski was named pastor in September 1934. He came to the parish from SS. Peter and Paul Church at 38th and Paulina St. where he had been an assistant.

In 1935, construction began on Lourdes high school at 56th and Komensky Ave., in close proximity to the St. Turibius parish complex. Since its founding, this Catholic girls high school has been under the direction of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Father Mszanowski purchased a building at 5612 S. Keeler Ave. for use as a convent. In 1936, the St. Anne Society was organized and in 1941, the Mothers Club was established to provide for the welfare of the Sisters and the students of St. Turibius school.

Named pastor of St. Blase Church in Argo, IL, in April 1948, Father Mszanowski was succeeded by Rev. Joseph A. Lechert, a former assistant at the Polish parish of St. Joseph since 1936.

Under Father Lechert's leadership, a new parish complex was built to meet the needs of the rapidly growing parish. Not only were new homes being constructed in the neighborhood, but nearby Midway Airport at Cicero Ave. was bringing new businesses to this section of the southwest side.

In March 1950, ground at the northwest corner of 57th and Karlov Ave. was broken for a new church and at that time work began on a school addition. Mass in the imposing brick church was celebrated for the first time on Christmas 1951 and the edifice was dedicated by Samuel Cardinal Stritch on May 4, 1952. The Cardinal returned to St. Turibius Church on Nov. 8, 1953 to celebrate the parish's silver jubilee.

Enrollment in the school increased from 400 students in 1950 to nearly 900 students by 1956. On May 1, 1956, Father Lechert broke ground for a new school, rectory, and convent. The school building was completed at 4125 W. 56th Pl., the rectory was built at 5646 S. Karlov Ave., and the convent was completed at the southwest corner of 56th Pl. and Karlov Ave. next to the new school. Cardinal Stritch dedicated the modern buildings on Nov. 11, 1956.

Between 1950 and 1960, parish membership increased from 750 families to more than 2,500 families. Enrollment in St. Turibius school peaked at 1,035 students in 1961.

Under Father Lechert's direction, special retreats, missions, and Holy Hours were inaugurated and even before the emphasis was placed on lay participation by Vatican II, a group of lectors and commentators was leading the Christian community of St. Turibius in worship. With the pastor's support, a Home and School Association was organized, a Parish Council was formed, and a Drama Club was begun under the direction of associate pastor Rev. Frank Lefkowicz.

Named pastor emeritus in November 1967, Father Lechert died on May 21, 1968.

Rev. Msgr. Joseph L. Mroczkowski was appointed pastor of St. Turibius Church on Nov. 7, 1967. A former professor of music at Quigley Preparatory serve Seminary North, Msgr. Mroczkowski had been director of the Cardinal's Cathedral Choristers since June 1963. His musical background was put to good use in enriching liturgical worship and song in accordance with the directives of the Vatican II. In addition to his parish work, Msgr. Mroczkowski has served as secretary of the Archdiocesan Sacred Music Commission and director of the was Cathedral Choral Society.

One of his first concerns after coming to St. Turibius parish was to complete tor the remodeling of the original school building begun by his predecessor. In addition, he also directed the renovation of the church to comply with the liturgical changes authorized by the Second Vatican Council. The church organ was reconstructed and in 1968, a census of the parish was taken.

With the help of his associates, Msgr. Mroczkowski has promoted adult the education programs as well as special activities for the senior citizens of the parish. An athletic program has been established for the boys and girls of the parish and a booster club now supports the school band. In recent years, 8 parishioners have become involved in community affairs, a commitment encouraged by their pastor.

A Liturgy Committee has been formed to increase participation in the wora ship of God and a President's Club promotes closer relationships between all parish organizations and it endeavors to establish greater unity in the religious and social life of the parish. A School Board now assists in the operation of the school which has an annual enrollment of nearly 700 children under the direction of 10 Felician Sisters and 17 lay teachers. The golden jubilee of St. Turibius parish was celebrated on Oct. 16, 1977 with a special Mass of Thanksgiving. A dinner dance at the Condesa del Mar in Alsip, IL, concluded the celebration. Associate pastors include Rev. Henry A. Olejniczak and Rev. John M. Richy. James Swientek is the first permanent deacon to be 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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