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In 1836, a Catholic action group, spawned by the
French Catholic Revival movement, was formed in Paris under the leadership
of Bogdan Janski. By
1842, this small group of Polish emigré students emerged as the
Congregation of the Resurrection under the guidance and direction of Janski's
two disciples: Peter Semenenko and Jerome Kajsiewicz. In 1857, the Congregation
was recognized by the Church and dedicated itself to the care of souls
and the education of youth, and by 1860 received the first ecclesiastical
approval or Decree of Praise.
The Congregation, born in exile, was destined to fulfill its purpose among
those in exile, especially among the diverse immigrant groups in the United
States and Canada.
By the middle of the nineteenth century the Church in the United States
was predominantly a missionary Church. Immediately after the Civil War,
with the influx of immigrant groups into the country, the American bishops
were confronted with a tremendous challenge and obligation, to provide
for the spiritual and intellectual development of the new Americans. In
large measure the Congregation of the Resurrection aided the American hierarchy
in preaching the Gospel to the Polish immigrant and in strengthening Catholicism
among the thousands who flocked to
the American shores.
The Polish settlement in Chicago took root in March of 1864, when about thirty
families formed the first Polish fraternal aid society under the patronage of
St. Stanislaus Kostka. Peter Kiolbassa was the leading figure among the Chicago
Poles. In 1867, plans were set in motion to purchase land for a proposed church.
In 1869, four lots were purchased at the corner of Noble and Bradley streets.
The society's next objective was to locate a Polish priest to administer the
parish and care for its spiritual life.
As early as 1866, Rev. Joseph Roles, pastor of Holy Name Cathedral, applied to
Father James Kajsiewicz, C.R., superior general of the Resurrectionists, for
Polish priests to work in the Diocese of Chicago among the Polish and Bohemian
In 1869, Peter Kiolbassa again requested a Resurrectionist priest for the Chicago
parish. On November 1, 1869, Father John Wollowski, C.R., was assigned. When
he arrived, however, the administrator of the diocese, Rev. John Halligan, informed
him that another Polish priest was on hand to assume the duties of the parish,
Rev. Joseph Juszkiewicz, a diocesan priest from Poland.
In August, 1870, Father Adolph Bakanowski, CR., made a stopover in Chicago on
a journey from Texas to Rome. By September, Bishop Thomas Foley assigned Father
Bakanowski to the St. Stanislaus Kostka parish on a temporary basis until the
superior general would ratify the formal acceptance of the Chicago mission. When
the superior general, Father Kajsiewicz, visited Chicago on July 1, 1871, he
met with Bishop Foley and formally concluded the agreement whereby the Resurrectionists
were placed in charge of all the Polish missions in the Diocese of Chicago. The
Resurrectionists were under contract to the Bishop of Chicago for ninety-nine
years. They were to staff the present mission of St. Stanislaus Kostka and provide
the personnel of Polish priests for subsequent parishes to be established in
It was in the light of this contract between the Bishop of Chicago and the Resurrectionists that St. Stanislaus Kostka parish became the "Mother
Church of all the Polish parishes in the Diocese." Between 1871 and 1900
the Resurrectionists founded some twenty Polish parishes. It was also through
Congregation efforts that many diocesan priests from Europe and elsewhere were
assigned to these various parishes either as pastors or associate pastors. During the years 1874 to 1880, there was but a mere handful of Resurrectionists
to meet the needs of the expanding Chicago mission. The superior general, Father
Peter Semenenko, selected an individual, who under the most intolerable conditions
could withstand the pressures and difficulties, the disappointments and criticisms,
to work solely for the glory of God and the welfare of souls. He was Father Vincent
Barzynski, C.R., who truly merits the title, Founder of the Resurrectionists
in the United States.
When Father Barzynski arrived in Chicago on September 6, 1874, the city was rapidly
rising from the ruin of the disastrous fire of 1871. To the thousands of immigrant
Poles pouring into the city, Father Barzynski became pastor, Father confessor,
counselor, guide, educator, and protector. The task of caring for souls in every
phase of pastoral activity was his chore as pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish
until his death in 1899. There was no facet of religious endeavor or social program
which did not emanate from his broad vision and genius for organization. Together
with a handful of Resurrectionist priests and Brothers and a few diocesan priests
who called themselves "Tertiaries of the Resurrectionists," Father
Barzynski directed the foundation and establishment of a number of Chicago parishes:
Holy Trinity (1872), St. Adalbert's (1874), Immaculate Conception (1882), SS.
Cyril and Methodius, Lemont (1883), St. Josaphat's (1886), St. Hedwig (1888),
St. John Cantius (1893), St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr (1893), St. Hyacinth
(1894), Sacred Heart, Melrose Park (1895), St. Michael's, South Chicago (1897),
St. Mary of Mount Carmel (1897), St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr, Posen (1898),
Ascension, Harvey (1899), St. Mary of the Angels (1899).
In addition to the herculean task of organizing parish life in the Chicago archdiocese,
Father Barzynski devoted himself to other numerous projects. Among the most important:
he was co-founder of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (q.v.),
a fraternal organization for the emigrant Poles (1873); he sponsored the Sisters
of the Holy
Family of Nazareth (q. v.) to the United States and established them
at their first mission of St. Josaphat's school (1885); he founded the Polish
Company for the printing of Catholic books and periodicals (1887); he founded
the Congregation of priests under the protection of the Sacred Heart to foster
mutual peace and unity among priests, to help the bishops, and to warn people
of evil influence (1887); he built and organized Holy Family Orphanage on Division
and Holt streets and placed the orphans under the care of the School Sisters
Notre Dame (1890); he founded the Polish Daily News (Dziennilc Chicagoski),
a Catholic daily newspaper
in the Polish language (1890); he was founder of St. Stanislaus Kostka College
(1890), the forerunner of Weber High School (q.v.); he was instrumental in organizing
St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital (q.v.) in conjunction with the Sisters of the Holy
Family of Nazareth (1894); he, together with Theresa Dudzik and Anna Wisinska,
founded a new religious sisterhood, known as the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed
Kunegunda, to care for the aged and sick poor (1894). In the last years of his
life, he was negotiating to bring the Sisters of the Resurrection to Chicago.
In 1898, the superior general appointed Father Barzynski to be the first Provincial
superior of the Resurrectionists in the United States, headquartered in Chicago.
He died on May 2, 1899. The Poles of Chicago erected a monument to the dynamic
Father Barzynski in 1901; it still stands in St. Adalbert's cemetery in Niles.
For the past 110 years, Chicago has been the center of Resurrectionists' pastoral
work and activity. The following priests continued the work of Father Barzynski
as provincial superior or delegate general: Very Rev. John Kasprzynski, C.R.
(1899-1904), elected superior general in 1905; Very Rev. David Hennessey, CR,
(1904-05); Very Rev. Wilhelm Kloepfer, C.R. (1905-09); Most Rev. Archbishop Joseph
Weber, C.R. (1909-1918); Very Rev. Francis Gordon, C.R. (1908-1928); Very Rev.
Michael Jagowicz, C.R. (1928-1932); Very Rev. Thaddeus Ligman, C.R. (1932-34);
Very Rev. Stephan Kowalezyk, CR. (1934-37); Very Rev. Thaddeus Ligman, CR. (1937-1945);
Very Rev. Casirnir Guziel, CR. (1945-1951); Very Rev. Stanley Fiolek, C.R. (1951-58);
Very Rev. Walter Galna, C.R. (1958); Very Rev. John Grabowski, C.R. (1958-1964);
Very Rev. Bernard Bak, CR. (1964-1970); Very Rev. Edmund Raczka, C.R. (1970-1976);
Very Rev. Francis S. Rog, C.R. (1976- ).
Archbishop Weber, C.R. established the Resurrectionist novitiate in Chicago in
1914 and the first Resurrectionist seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1918.
Perhaps no Resurrectionist other than Father Vincent Barzynski made such an impact
on immigrant Poles in the Chicago archdiocese as Father Francis Gordon, C.R.
He became one of the leading figures in Chicago because of his total dedication
to the cause of Catholicism and his concern for the Polish immigrant. For many
years he headed the Dziennik Chicagoski, and he founded the Polish Alma Mater
in 1897. He was a noted publisher and author of books and articles, as well as
an educator and pastor of souls. Father Gordon's many services to the Church
in Chicago were recognized in 1924, when Pope Pius XI conferred upon him the
papal medal for extraordinary service to the Church. The Pro Ecciesia et Pan
((lice medal was bestowed upon him at St. Mary of the Angels church by Cardinal
Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago. At Father Gordon's death in 1931, a legacy of
many accomplishments was left in cherished
During Father Guziel's term of office, the Resurrectionists realized a long cherished
dream in the building of a new Weber High School (q. v.). A long-range building
program was launched during Father Grabowski's tenure of office, including a
new novitiate in 1959, a new Gordon Technical High School in 1960 (q.v.), in
1962 an addition to Weber High School, and a new Resurrection Mission Center
in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1963. Recent provincials have continued to lead the
Resurrectionists in promoting the growth of the Church in the Archdiocese of
From "A History of
the Offices, Agencies, and the Institutions of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1981
Reprinted with the permission
of the Chicago Archdioces