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Holy Trinity Church on the west side of Noble St. between Division St. and Milwaukee Ave. had its beginning in St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, the oldest Polish Catholic Church in Chicago.

The Polish community on the northwest side of Chicago was growing so rapidly that in 1872, Rev. Adolph Bakanowski, CR, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, called a meeting to decide whether the parish church - then located at the corner of Noble and Bradley (Potomac Ave.) - should be enlarged or whether a second church should be built.

The Society of St. Joseph was given permission to build a new church which was constructed in 1873 on Noble St. near Chapin St. at a cost of $12,000. The Society wanted to call the new church St. Joseph, but as there was a large German parish in Chicago by that name, the title Holy Trinity was selected.

Although Rev. Felix Zwiardowski, CR, fourth pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, celebrated Mass in the new frame structure, he did not intend for Holy Trinity to become a separate parish. In 1871, Bishop Thomas Foley had placed the Resurrectionists in charge of all Polish missions and parishes to be founded in the Chicago diocese in the next 99 years. Holy Trinity was to remain a part of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish under the control of the Congregation of the Resurrection.

Although 1873 is considered to be the founding date of Holy Trinity Church, in reality, the parish was not established canonically until 1893. The controversy which surrounded the organization of Holy Trinity parish profoundly affected the Polish community in Chicago and throughout the United States.

In 1874, Rev. Vincent Barzynski, CR, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, announced his decision to build one large parish church and to use Holy Trinity Church as a school or parish hail. This decision was opposed by members of St. Joseph Society who not only considered Holy Trinity to be their own church, but who also maintained a separate treasury.

In spite of this opposition, Father Barzynski-with the support of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Society-directed the construction of the present church of St. Stanislaus Kostka, the cornerstone of which was laid on July 1, 1877. In his study of the Resurrectionist Order, The First One Hundred Years, 1866-1966, Rev. John Iwicki, CR, points to three distinct periods in the 20 year controversy concerning Holy Trinity Church.

The first phase, 1875-1877, conditions were aggravated by the trustee struggle over parish funds; the second phase, 1881-1889, centered itself on the dispute concerning the title of ownership of the church property; the third phase, 1889-1893, dealt with the dissension over the administrative personnel of the parish.

Members of the St. Joseph Society had drawn up the deed to Holy Trinity Church in the name of their group. This action was at odds with church policy, which held that all property was to be vested in the Catholic Bishop of Chicago, Corporation Sole. When members of the St. Joseph Society refused to give up their treasury and to transfer the church's title to the Catholic Bishop of Chicago, Bishop Thomas Foley closed the building in 1875. Undaunted, a group of Poles asked Rev. Adalbert Mielcuszny to celebrate Mass and hear their confessions. Father Mielcuszny was not affiliated with the Congregation of the Resurrection; according to a contemporary account, he was born in Wilkora, Poland, and emigrated to America in 1875.

Because Bishop Foley would not recognize him as the duly appointed pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Father Mielcuszny appealed to the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda. As a result of his petition, Holy Trinity Church remained open from March 1877 until June 1881.

New fuel was added to the controversy in Polonia following the organization of the Polish National Alliance (PNA). The PNA was more nationalistically oriented than the Polish Roman Catholic Union of American (PRCUA). Although the PRCUA had its own elected president, the group maintained close ties to the Resurrectionists. Indeed, Father Barzynski served as chaplain of the PRCUA from 1874 until 1891.

The St. Joseph Society of Holy Trinity Church allied itself with the PNA. In his history of the Resurrectionist Order, Father Iwicki noted:

Although the overwhelming majority of the members of the PNA were Catholic, Father Barzynski and much of the Polish clergy had misgivings about the organization . . . . In view of these differences, the 'Alliancists' would not accept Father Barzynski as their pastor for he was a 'Unionist' and would not espouse their cause.

Father Mielcuszny died in the rectory of Holy Trinity Church on June 2, 1881. On hearing the news, members of Holy Trinity parish believed that the priest had been the victim of foul play. Fighting broke out between supporters of Father Mielcuszny and members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. However, the result of an inquest confirmed the opinion of two doctors that Father Mielcuszny had died of apoplexy.

On June 3, 1881, the Chicago Inter Ocean reported that;

Rev. Adalbertus Mielcuszny, a Catholic priest, somewhat more or less noted on account of difficulties with the Bishop over church property, came home from court where the case is pending, and within two hours after, he was dead.

In recounting the part Father Mielcuszny had played in the Holy Trinity struggle, the Inter Ocean noted:

By wise management he got the congregation and built a large parish building, which is also clear. In purchasing the property the title was made out in the name of the Bishop, the priest, and the parish. The Bishop refused to accept the deed that way, and the priest, claiming that he had some of his own money in the investment, refused to make any concessions. The result was that six months ago he was suspended. Yet he continued his duties as priest, and thus the breach was widened.

The priest feared the Bishop would unite his parish with that of St. Stanislaus, close by, and his reason for keeping the property partly in his control is thus explained. The cry of foul play undoubtedly grows out of these troubles.

Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan (who had succeeded Bishop Foley in 1880) closed Holy Trinity Church following Father Mielcuszny's death. The edifice remained closed until the spring of 1889, when trustees of Holy Trinity Church reached an agreement with the Archbishop.

With the appointment of a Resurrectionist priest, Rev. Simon Kobrzynski as pastor of Holy Trinity Church, it appeared as though the long struggle had come to an end. However, the issue of ownership of parish property once again surfaced.

On June 15, 1889, Archbishop Feehan met with Father Kobrzynski and gave him a letter which was to be read at all Masses on Trinity Sunday, June 16. In pertinent part, the letter stated:

You, as pastor, will take entire charge of its [Holy Trinity Church] affairs, both spiritual and temporal. You will take charge and care of money belonging to the church. The people will pay to you, or to an agent appointed by you, all church money, pew rents, etc. You will pay all expenses. You may appoint a committee of three to five to assist you as you may direct, to be approved by the Archbishop. The members of the committee must be practical Catholics and contributors to the support of the church.

When the parish trustees refused to step down, Archbishop Feehan forbade Father Kobrzynski from celebrating Solemn High Mass at Holy Trinity Church. As the priest announced the Archbishop's decision on Sept. 1, 1889, he was hissed by members of the congregation. Fearing for his safety, he left the church and took refuge in a neighbor's home, and later at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. In its account of this outbreak, the Inter Ocean shed new light on the controversy at Holy Trinity Church. It reported that:

The church property covers four city lots, Nos. 536, 538, 540, and 542 Noble St., located just back of the new power station on Milwaukee Ave. When the lots were purchased they were acquired for the figurative 'song.'

Since that day the property has greatly appreciated in value. The trustees of the church, two years after the erection of the edifice, deeded the entire property to Archbishop [sic] Foley. The latter, in turn, turned the property over to his successor, Archbishop Feehan. Eight months ago, when the realty was reinsured, the trustees made the policies payable to themselves. This aroused the indignation of the archdiocese, and the Church of the Holy Trinity was threatened with excommunication.

In the face of such opposition, Father Kobrzynski resigned his post in September 1889, and Holy Trinity Church was closed for the third time. In its report of a theft of two gold chalices from Holy Trinity Church on Dec. 20, 1890, the Chicago Tribune commented: "There is war again between St. Stanislaus' Polish Church and its neighbor of the same denomination, the Church of the Holy Trinity." According to the Tribune, members of Holy Trinity Church attributed the theft to a rival faction at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

The bitter conflict at Holy Trinity Church was not resolved at the diocesan level: rather, the trustees of the parish took their case to Rome. Monsignor Francis Satolli, the Vatican's Apostolic Delegate, settled the long-standing controversy in June 1893 during a visit to the World's Fair in Chicago.

On June 10, 1893, The New World reported that:

During his stay, Monsignor Satolli with the consent and approval of Archbishop Feehan, received a delegation of Polish Catholics representing the church of St. /Holy/ Trinity, which has been under interdiction for many years. The delegation desired the removal of this interdiction and the Apostolic Delegate promised to grant their prayer on condition that the church and congregation be affiliated with the parish of St. Stanislaus; that the title to the church property be fixed according to the archdiocesan requirements; that obedience to Archbishop Feehan be unqualified, and that the pastor appointed by him be accepted. Compliance with these conditions was promised.

Following a Mass at Holy Trinity Church on June 5, 1893, the Apostolic Delegate left Chicago the next day for South Bend, IN, where he asked the Fathers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross to appoint a priest to take care of Holy Trinity Church. When the Holy Cross Fathers assumed charge, Holy Trinity Church was established as a separate parish and its title was transferred to the Catholic Bishop of Chicago. Ironically, after 82 years, Holy Trinity Church was again placed under the direction of the Resurrectionist Fathers.

Rev. Valentine Czyzewski, CSC, travelled from South Bend, IN, to Chicago to celebrate Mass for the people of Holy Trinity Church on June 11, 1893. On June 13, 1893, Dziennik Chicagoski (The Polish Daily News) reported that Holy Trinity Church would be reopened to the public under the following conditions:

1. The church property will, without any question whatever, be the property of the Archbishop.
2. The parish will make a detailed statement of the debts on the property and present this to the Archbishop.
3. An exact list of the members of Holy Trinity parish, with their full names and addresses, must be made.
4. The directors of the parish will include members of the Holy Cross Brotherhood [sic].

On June 17, 1893, Rev. Casimir Sztuczko, CSC, began his long pastorate.
Under his leadership, Holy Trinity parish became a center of Polish life in Chicago and it played an important role in the development of Polish nationalism.

Father Sztuczko was born in Miroslaw, Poland, on Feb. 28, 1867. After emigrating to America at the age of 15, he entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross in South Bend, Ind. Following his ordination in 1891, he served as an assistant at St. Hedwig Church in South Bend until his appointment as pastor of Holy Trinity Church.

Due to the efforts of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth - who had organized Holy Family Academy for Girls in 1887 - and the Brothers of the Holy Cross, a larger grammar school soon was needed in the parish. On May 26, 1894, The New World reported that 350 children were attending school in the parish residence under the direction of the Holy Cross Brothers and that: "The girls and small boys are instructed by the Sisters of Nazareth from their convent nearby, on [1444] west Division St., assisted by young ladies."

Archbishop Feehan visited Holy Trinity parish for the first time on May 31, 1894. The New World noted that: "All the societies turned out in procession with banners and flags flying, showing their loyalty to Holy Church and met their beloved Archbishop at the river and escorted him to the church."

The cornerstone of Holy Trinity school was laid on June 10, 1894. The three story brick building on Noble St., constructed at a cost of $30,000, contained 12 classrooms and a large hail. On Feb. 3, 1895, the newly refurbished church was blessed by Rev. Stanislaus Fitte, CSC, a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame
University. The ceremony included an address by Michael Majewski, treasurer of 10, the Polish National Alliance.

No sooner had the people of Holy Trinity begun to work with Father Sztuczko at the difficult task of building up their parish when another major crisis split the Polish community on the northwest side of Chicago. The controversy involved the people of St. Hedwig parish who had rallied behind an assistant and priest, Rev. Anton Kozlowski, in his attempts to become pastor. On Feb. 7, 1895, nearly 200 women stormed St. Hedwig rectory at 2226 N. Hoyne Ave. and threatened the newly appointed pastor, Rev. Joseph Gieburowski, CR. Archbishop Feehan was forced to close St. Hedwig Church on Feb. 8, 1895. The church was opened and closed three more times during the next few months.

In May 1895, Father Kozlowski formed his own congregation of All Saints 1905 and on June 16, 1895 he celebrated Mass in a rented store at Lubeck (now Dickens) Ave. near Hoyne Ave. On Aug. 11, 1895, he laid the cornerstone of his independent church, located at 2023 W. Lubeck Ave. In September 1895, Archbishop Feehan excommunicated Father Kozlowski when he refused to stop had organizing All Saints Church. Not only did the majority of the people of St. Imma Hedwig parish approve of Father Kozlowski's actions, but he seems to have gained support from other segments of the Polish community, notably PNA members. In its report of the dedication of All Saints Church on Nov. 10, 1895, claim Dziennik Chicagoski reported that: "It is with regret that we make note of the fact that besides the fallen group from St. Hedwig parish, two societies of the In Polish National Alliance and a portion of a Polish military organization took vent at part in this farce."

Father Sztuczko, as pastor of a congregation which included PNA members, lost no time in condemning the organization of a schismatic church. He and four members of the parish committee of Holy Trinity Church issued a series of resolutions on Nov. 10, 1895 which stated, in part: "That we have not authorized anyone to show sympathy for the Independent Church, and we not only do not favor the movement but we are definitely opposed to it." Although most the families who initially supported Father Kozlowski eventually returned to St. Hedwig parish, the schismatic church of All Saints continued in existence; today parish it is the headquarters of the Polish National Catholic Church in the Western parish Diocese. By 1900, another schismatic church, Transfiguration, was in operation on Division St. near Noble St., midway between Holy Trinity Church and St. Stanislaus Church.

The silver jubilee of Holy Trinity parish was celebrated on June 5, 1898. According to the Chicago Times:

A feature of the celebration was the parade, in which about 4,000 members of Polish societies took part. The church edifice was decorated Father with American and Polish flags and green boughs. At open air meetings Aid patriotic speeches were made and a choir sang Polish national airs. Most of the Polish priests of Chicago assisted in the celebration outside and complet within the church . . . . The church is now prosperous. For thirteen years Qn. prior to 1893 it was closed.

Eight years after Holy Trinity Church had been reopened under the direction of the Holy Cross Fathers, The New World published a history of "The Polish (Polish. Element in Chicago." Significantly, the history of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish Holy which appeared on Apr. 14, 1900 made no mention of the Resurrectionists' role Paris in the formation of Holy Trinity parish. Nor was reference made in the Holy and Trinity account to the 20 year controversy which surrounded the organization of derer, the parish.

In 1903, 513 boys and 427 girls were enrolled in Holy Trinity school. On Jan. 10, 1903, The New World reported that "even with the frame building which was secured for extra class rooms for this session, the accommodations still are insufficient for the number of pupils enrolled during the past week."

When Cardinal Satolli visited Chicago on July 9-14, 1904, he returned to Holy Trinity Church where he was greeted by thousands of Poles waving Vatican and American flags. He found a flourishing parish which had outgrown its original frame church.

On Oct. 15, 1905, The New World reported that: "Plans are being drawn up for the proposed new church to be erected on the site now occupied by the old building."

The cornerstone of the present Holy Trinity Church was laid on June 25, 1905 by Archbishop James E. Quigley, assisted by Archbishop Albion F. Symon of Poland. The magnificent Romanesque structure was built "on Noble opposite Chapin Street" at a cost of more than $200,000.

On Oct. 7, 1906, Archbishop Quigley dedicated the imposing edifice which had been designed by William Krieg. Rev. Francis M. Wojtalewicz, pastor of St. Immaculate Conception Church in South Chicago and the first priest to be ordained from Holy Trinity Church, delivered the sermon in Polish.

A history of the parish which appeared in The New World of Dec. 15, 1906 , claimed that about 1,300 families belonged to the parish and that 1,300 children the were enrolled in the school.

In 1908, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth moved into a new convent at 1112 N. Noble St. Property adjacent to the rectory was purchased and on Sept. 8, 1910, Holy Trinity high school opened under the direction of the Brothers of the Holy Cross. The school was so popular that before long, larger quarters were needed.

On Aug. 25, 1912, the old Kosciuszko public school at the southwest corner of Division and Cleaver St. was rededicated as Holy Trinity high school. This structure had been built in 1875. The former high school building at 1116 N. Noble St. became the residence of the Holy Cross Brothers.

On Sept. 20, 1913, The New World reported that: "While the schools of the parish have been greatly developed and the church beautified, the priests of the parish have been living over a store in the vicinity." On Mar. 19, 1914, Auxiliary Bishop Paul P. Rhode dedicated the 31 room rectory which had been completed at a cost of $41,000 at 1118 N. Noble St. on the site of the original parish residence.

A new grammar school was built at 1135 N. Cleaver St. to accommodate the growing number of school age children in the parish. The cornerstone of the new building was laid on July 16, 1916. The day also marked the 25th anniversary of Father Sztuczko's ordination.

Archbishop George W. Mundelein dedicated the grammar school on Sept. 2, 1917. The structure, which contained 34 classrooms and an auditorium, had been completed at a cost of $280,000.

On June 9, 1918, the people of Holy Trinity parish celebrated the 25th anniversary of the reopening of their church under the direction of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. In its account of the celebration, Dziennik Zwiazkowy (Polish Daily Zgoda) reminded its readers that:

Holy Trinity is regarded everywhere as the 'Polish National Alliance Parish' because its members are nearly all members of that organization, and it was these people who participated in throngs in this rare church ceremony. The entire Central Administration of the Polish National Alliance attended the Mass, celebrating not only the church occasion but the national ideal which today permeates all strata of our society.

After all, Holy Trinity Church was reopened as a result of the efforts of Alliance members under the leadership of Francis H. Jablonski, former editor-in-chief of Dziennik Zwiazkowy and one-time president of the Polish National Alliance, who, together with [Joseph] Grajczyk, still living today, journeyed to Rome and explained the situation properly, as a result of which the Pope authorized Cardinal [sic] Satolli to reopen the church; this was done twenty-five years ago.

On June 11, 1922, Archbishop Mundelein presided at the golden jubilee of the founding of Holy Trinity Church. At the time, more than 50 societies were in existence. By 1923, Holy Trinity grammar school with its enrollment of 3,133 students was the largest parish school in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

In 1925, 285 girls were enrolled in Holy Family Academy. Larger quarters were needed and so a modern four story building was erected at the northwest corner of Division St. and Cleaver St. Completed according to the plans of architect Henry J. Schiacks, it was dedicated on May 1, 1927.

After an extensive fund raising campaign, a new Holy Trinity high school was opened in September 1928 at 1443 W. Division St. The three story brick structure, designed by the architectural firm of Slupowski & Piontek with accommodations for more than 1,000 students, was dedicated by Cardinal Mundelein on Oct. 28, 1928.

By 1930, the membership of Holy Trinity parish numbered 15,194 persons with 2,406 students enrolled in the grammar school and 265 young men in the high school.

On July 20, 1941, Father Sztuczko observed the 50th anniversary of his ordination. On June 20, 1943, Archbishop Samuel A. Stritch presided at the golden jubilee anniversary of the reopening of Holy Trinity Church (in 1893) under the direction of the Holy Cross Fathers.

A new faculty residence for the Brothers of the Holy Cross was dedicated by Cardinal Stritch on Apr. 24, 1949. The brick structure, located at 1110 N. Noble St., had been completed at a cost of $220,000.

Father Sztuczko's pastorate at Holy Trinity parish spanned 56 years. He died on Aug. 12, 1949 at the age of 82.

On Sept. 23, 1949, Rev. Stanislaus Lisewski, CSC, was appointed to succeed Father Sztuczko. As a young boy, Father Lisewski had attended Holy Trinity grammar and high school, and since July 1949, he had assisted Father Sztuczko in the running of Holy Trinity parish.

In 1956, the Sisters' convent at 1112 N. Noble St. was declared structurally unsafe and had to be razed. Until their new quarters were completed at 1125 N. Cleaver St. in April 1959, the Sisters resided at St. Mary of Nazareth hospital at Division and Leavitt St.

On Nov. 10, 1957, many families in Holy Trinity parish learned that their homes were to be razed to make way for the Northwest Expressway. As families moved away from the parish, the school enrollment declined, from 850 pupils in 1958 to 590 by 1962.

In 1960, repairs on the school building were completed at a cost of $72,470. On July 17, 1960, the ownership of Holy Trinity high school passed from the parish to the Brothers of the Holy Cross.

On Nov. 5, 1960, the Northwest (now the John F. Kennedy) expressway was opened from Lake St. to Foster Ave. It cut through the heart of the Polish neighborhood known as Trojcowo (Holy Trinity) and Stanislawowo (St. Stanislaus Kostka).

The 90th anniversary of the founding of Holy Trinity Church was celebrated on June 23, 1963. In 1964, Father Lisewski was named to the Provincial staff in South Bend, Ind. He died on June 10, 1972 following a long illness.

Rev. Bernard Niemier, CSC-who had served as an assistant at Holy Trinity Church from 1939 to 1940 and again from 1941 to 1946-was appointed pastor on July 12, 1964. During his pastorate, the Noble Square Cooperative was built just east of the church on land which included part of the school playground. At the time, the parish acquired land for its present parking lot. The Noble Square Development, completed in 1968, was privately financed; it contains 481 townhouses and apartments.

Father Niemier continued to serve Holy Trinity parish until ill health forced him to resign his pastorate in July 1971. He resided at Holy Cross House at the University of Notre Dame until his death on Mar. 11, 1975 at the age of 64.

Rev. Casimir Czaplicki, CSC, was appointed pastor on July 20, 1971. A graduate of Holy Trinity high school, he had been associate pastor of the parish since 1953.

Under Father Czaplicki's leadership, plans were made for the 100th anniversary of the founding of Holy Trinity Church, which was celebrated on June 17, 1973.

At its meeting on June 3, 1974, the Archdiocesan School Board approved the closing of Holy Trinity grammar school. The few children who had been enrolled were accepted at nearby parochial schools. The school building at 1135 N. Cleaver St. is now used by parish clubs for meetings. The former convent at 1125 N. Cleaver St. houses the Illinois School for the Deaf and Blind.

In 1974, Rev. William M. Lewers, CSC, Provincial of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, notified John Cardinal Cody that due to a lack of Polishspeaking personnel, his community no longer would be able to serve Holy Trinity parish. On July 1, 1975, the administration of Holy Trinity parish reverted to the Resurrectionist Fathers, who had celebrated Mass in the first church of Holy Trinity when it was opened in 1873. The Brothers of the Holy Cross continue to staff Holy Trinity high school.

Following his retirement as pastor, Father Czaplicki took up residence at St. Joseph Church at 48th and Hermitage Ave. on the south side of Chicago.

Rev. Casimir V. Polinski, CR, a former pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, served as administrator of Holy Trinity Church from July 1975 until December 1978. He was then assigned as associate pastor of St. Hyacinth Church.

On Jan. 3, 1979, Rev. Casimir Tadla, CR, was named pastor. A native of Cudahy, WI, he attended St. Stanislaus Kostka grammar school and Weber high school in Chicago. Following his ordination in 1948, he served in Resurrectionist parishes in Maryland, New York, California, and Florida. Father Tadla returned to Chicago from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, where he had been pastor of Sacred Heart Church.

In recent years, large numbers of Spanish families have moved into the neighborhood. Still, Holy Trinity remains a thoroughly Polish parish, 100% of its members being of Polish birth or descent. Of the 900 families who now belong to the national parish of Holy Trinity, 98% live outside the immediate neighborhood. On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, despite inconveniences of weather and long distance, Polish families return to Holy Trinity Church. On weekends, two Masses are celebrated in Polish and two in English. Two Masses in Polish are celebrated each weekday

Active parish organizations include the Ladies' Rosary Guild, Holy Name Society, Apostleship of Prayer, and Ladies' Auxiliary. Holy Trinity Church is a member of the Northwest Conservation Organization (NCO) and the Community 21 Project.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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