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In 1890, as Chicago continued to grow apace and immigrants
flooded into the booming industrial and commercial city, the pastor of
St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, Rev. Vincent Barzynski, C.R., opened one
of the first high schools on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Father Barzynski
had organized a number of Polish-American Catholic institutions, including
several parishes and the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America. Now he
turned some of his attention to forming a high school in the old frame
structure which had formerly been the church for St. Stanislaus parish.
In September, 1890, St. Stanislaus College became the first secondary school
established by the Resurrectionist Fathers in the United States.
Father Barzynski appointed two priests of the Congregation of the Resurrection
to staff the newly organized school. Rev. Joseph Halter, CR., an experienced
and devoted teacher, was given the arduous task of directing the school
and teaching most of the classes, assisted by Rev. John Piechowski, C.R.
The two classrooms in the old frame church made up the entire school plant.
Each student had a chair and table assigned to him, at which he did his
work throughout the school year.
The first year "the college," as it was called, was open, only
twelve young men enrolled, Entreaties went out to the parents to send their
teen-aged boys to high school. Many boys after finishing the sixth grade
of grammar school, were packed off to a steel mill or apprenticed into
some trade to begin to earn a living. Immigrant parents with seven or eight
children could not spare the eldest son of the family by indulging in such
luxury as a high school education. A slow and tedious process of gentle
persuasion on the part of the parish and high school Fathers convinced
some parents of the importance and benefits of an institution of higher
learning. In those first years tuition was a mere twenty-five cents a month for
classes six days a week, September through July.
Fathers Barzynski and Halter pressed on to make St. Stanislaus College a success.
In June, 1891, an oral examination of the first students, open to the public,
was held. Father Halter wanted to show the parents the remarkable progress their
sons had made during the year. The boys were tested in such subjects as English,
Latin, mathematics, history, and bookkeeping. The parents were literally amazed
at the accomplishments of their sons. In the face of the opposition to high school
education, these public examinations helped to clear doubts in the minds of the
parents who made sacrifices to send their sons to the school.
Others, however, were not convinced of the value of a more advanced education,
and saw high school for their sons as a sheer waste of time. After a year of
operation, the school faced the prospect of being closed. Not enough students
were entering the new school. Both Father Barzynski and Father Halter did not
allow themselves to be discouraged, and continued to work even harder to make
the school succeed. After two years of hard work and constant anxiety, Father
Halter's health failed. Father Barzynski advised him to take a much needed rest
and sent him to Canada. Rev. Francis Gordon, C.R., was to take over the direction
of the school temporarily in Father Halter's absence. Father Halter never returned
to Chicago and his beloved high school. His health declined steadily, and he
never took another administrative post. He died in Canada in 1896, at the age
of only thirty-nine.
The school year 1891-92 saw still discouragingly low attendance. Father Barzynski
appointed Father Piechowski as principal. Father Piechowski was determined to
keep the school open, despite low attendance and financial difficulties. Slowly
parents' attitudes were changed. Eighty-eight boys enrolled for the school year
1892-93. Father Piechowski hired four lay teachers and introduced a commercial
course in addition to the classical course already being offered. The tuition
was raised from twenty-five cents a month to twenty-five dollars per year.
In 1895, Father Piechowski was succeeded by Rev. John Kruszynski, C.R. On July
2, 1897, the first commencement exercises of St. Stanislaus College were held
in the school auditorium. Of the six students who graduated that year,
five entered the Congregation of the Resurrection, and were later sent to Rome
to complete their studies for the priesthood. In 1899 the school moved into a
more substantial facility, a brick building on Division Street.
After ten years as principal, Father Kruszynski was followed by Rev. John Kosinski,
C.R., whose term of office extended from 1905 to 1909. During his tenure, plans
were formulated to organize a new St. Stanislaus educational
center which would include high school, college, and university departments.
Three blocks of land were purchased in the Lakeview township, then a suburb of
Chicago. Civic committees were formed throughout the Midwest to help finance
the project, which was seen as a way of expanding what The New World called "the
oldest Polish institution of higher learning in the United States." By 1913,
$18,000 had been raised. With the outbreak of World War I, however, the money
was given, with the permission of the donors, to the war effort.
In 1909, Rev. Ladislaus Zapala, C.R., became principal. He added a two-year commercial
course, with day and night classes, to the school program. When Father Zapala
was elected superior general of the Congregation of the Resurrection in 1920,
he was succeeded by Rev. Thaddeus Ligman, C.R.,
who served as principal for two terms, 1920-23 and 1925-1931. From 1923-25, Rev.
Leo Jasinski, C.R., was the principal.
In 1928, another building was constructed and became known as Gordon Hall, named
for the former rector. It provided a gymnasium, science laboratories, classrooms,
and a cafeteria. In 1930, old St. Stanislaus College was renamed Weber High School,
in honor of the Most Rev. Archbishop Joseph Weber, C.R., former regional superior
of the Resurrectionist Congregation in the United States and Canada.
During the difficult years of the Great Depression, Rev. Mitchell Starzynski,
C.R., who was also the editor of the Polish Daily News, guided the school from
1931-35, followed by Rev. Edward Morkowski, C.R., who held office from 1938-1942.
In the war years the genial Rev. Stanley Fiolek, C.R., headed the school until
1948. Rev. Louis Tusinski, C.R., served as principal for one year, but then was
transferred as the Congregation's representative to Switzerland.
Rev. Stanley Sokulski, C.R., for many years an instructor at the school, followed
Father Tusinski as principal. During Father Sokulski's term, a new and larger
school building was constructed at a new location, 5252 West Palmer Street at
Latrobe in the Cragin neighborhood. Classes were opened at the new site in September
of 1950. That this new school, an unfulfilled hope for many years, became a reality,
was due in large measure to the vision, courage, and untiring efforts of the
provincial superior at that time, the Very Rev. Casimir Guziel, C.R.
Father Sokulski's successor was Father Edwin Korlowicz, C.R., whose term as principal
lasted from 1954 to 1960. In September of 1960, Rev. George Jendrach, C.R., assumed
the office which he held until 1966. Under his tenure, in 1962, a new chapel
and a substantial addition to the twelve-year-old school were built to accommodate
the growing number of students who wished to attend. Weber High School was then
in a position to train a student body of 1,250 young men.
Weber was headed by Rev. Chester Mitoraj, C.R., from 1966-1972, followed by Rev.
Eugene Sanders, C.R., 1972-78. Since 1978, Rev. Dennis Sanders, C.R., has been
From a two classroom school in 1890, Weber High School has grown in ninety years
to a large, modern educational institution. Its stated purpose however remains
the same: to give youth a thorough and salutary preparation for time and eternity.
This was the ideal set down by Father Peter Semenenko, C.R., co-founder of the
Congregation of the Resurrection.
From "A History of
the Offices, Agencies, and the Institutions of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1981
Reprinted with the permission
of the Chicago Archdiocese.