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Immaculate Heart of Mary Church at Byron St. and Spaulding Ave, was organized in 1912 to serve approximately 300 Polish families who lived in the Irving Park district on the northwest side of Chicago. On Aug 27, 1911, 114 men and women signed a petition requesting Archbishop James E. Quigley to establish a national parish. The Archbishop took the matter under consideration and in June 1912, he appointed Rev. Raymond Appelt, a former assistant at St. Josaphat Church, to begin the work of organizing Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. The people founding the new parish formerly belonged to St. Josaphat Church and they were, for the most part, Kashubes-Poles who had lived under Prussian domination in their homeland.

Until a permanent church building could be constructed, the young pastor celebrated Mass in the Cleveland public school at 3850 N. Albany Ave, Before long, ground was broken at 3820 N. Spaulding Ave, for a combination churchschool structure, the cornerstone of which was laid on Oct. 29, 1912. The new edifice was completed in time for Mass on New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 1913. The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth opened the parish school in January 1913 with an enrollment of 100 children.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church was established midway between St. Veronica Church at School and Whipple St. and Our Lady of Mercy Church, then located at Sunnyside Ave, and Troy St. These parishes had been founded for English-speaking Catholic families.

The present rectory at 3834 N. Spaulding Ave, was completed by 1916. In 1928, Father Appelt directed the construction of a convent at 3817 N. Christiana Ave, and a "temporary church" at the northwest corner of Grace St. and Spaulding Ave, The latter building remained in use as Immaculate Heart of Mary Church for nearly 30 years. Following the completion of this brick edifice, the church quarters in the old combination building at 3820 N. Spaulding Ave, were converted into classrooms.

Father Appelt continued to serve as pastor until his retirement in 1935. He died on Mar. 5, 1949 at the age of 76.

Rev. Charles C. Marcinkiewicz, former pastor of St. Thecla Church, was named pastor in 1935. He guided Immaculate Heart of Mary parish during the last years of the Depression and through World War II. Following Father Marcinkiewicz's death on Dec. 18, 1945, Rev. Frank A. Piwka, a former professor at Quigley Preparatory Seminary, was named pastor.

Enrollment in Immaculate Heart of Mary school grew rapidly in the 1950s. On May 6, 1952, a new two classroom addition was dedicated by Auxiliary Bishop William E. Cousins. By 1955, 620 children were enrolled in the parish school.

Father Piwka directed the construction of the present church, the cornerstone of which was laid on June 16, 1957. Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, designed in a modern style of architecture by the firm of Pirola & Erbach, was completed at the southwest corner of Byron St. and Spaulding Ave, The air conditioned $675,000 edifice was dedicated on Sept. 7, 1958.

Father Piwka died suddenly on Feb. 25, 1959 at the age of 60. In April 1959, Archbishop Albert G. Meyer appointed Very Rev. Msgr. Aloysius J. Wycislo, former assistant executive director of the Catholic Relief Services-National Catholic Welfare Council, as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. During World War II, Msgr. Wycislo served as field director of Polish projects for the War Relief Services, working with Polish refugees in the Middle East, Africa, India, and France. From 1939 to 1943, he had served as Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Msgr. Wycislo's appointment as pastor was a great honor for the people of this parish.

On Dec. 20, 1959, Msgr. Wycislo was named a Domestic Prelate with the title Right Reverend Monsignor. In November 1960, the people of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish learned that their pastor had been named Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. In a statement published in The New World on Nov. 4, 1960, Msgr. Wycislo was quoted as follows:

The appointment to the pastorate of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish was the fulfillment of my heart's desire; but there followed at his [Cardinal Meyer's] intercession my nomination as a Domestic Prelate to His Holiness, Pope John XXIII; then came the appointment to the Archdiocesan Board of Consultors; the Archdiocesan Conservation council and his request that I serve as moderator of the Catholic League for Religious Assistance to Poland ... The priests and parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish to whom I came as a stranger, have demonstrated time and again their sincerity and cooperation in accepting me; I beg their prayers.


On Dec. 21, 1960, Auxiliary Bishop Aloysius John Wycislo was consecrated in Holy Name Cathedral. Also installed as Auxiliary Bishop was Cletus Francis O'Donnell, who had served as Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese since 1947.

Under Bishop Wycislo's leadership, the old combination building at 3820 N. Spaulding Ave, and the old church building at the northwest corner of Grace St. and Spaulding Ave, were demolished and on May 1, 1960, construction began on a new school and social center. The two story brick school located at 3820 N. Spaulding Ave,, was dedicated on Apr. 1, 1962 by Cardinal Meyer. The day also marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish.

After the Second Vatican Council, Bishop Wycislo established new organizations in the parish-the Italian Catholic Federation, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Ladies of Charity, a Parish Council, a School Board, and the nucleus of a Liturgy Commission.

In March 1968, Bishop Wycislo became the third Chicago priest of Polish descent to be appointed Bishop of Green Bay, Wis. He succeeded the late Bishop Stanislaus V. Bona, who had headed the Green Bay diocese since the death of Bishop Paul P. Rhode in 1945. At the time of his appointment to Green Bay, Bishop Wycislo was serving as Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish.

On Easter Sunday, Apr. 14, 1968, Bishop Wycislo celebrated his last Mass in Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. He was installed as head of the Green Bay diocese on Apr. 16, 1968 in St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay, WI.

In May 1968, John Cardinal Cody appointed Rev. Henry P. Roszkowski as pastor. He came to this parish from Schiller Park, IL, where he had been pastor of St. Beatrice Church.

Father Roszkowski was responsible for expanding the role of the Parish Council and for encouraging lay leaders. In April 1977, he was named pastor emeritus and Rev. Norbert J. Zawistanowicz was appointed pastor. Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Research and Planning, Father Zawistanowicz had been assigned to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church following his ordination in 1949. He returned to this parish from St. Richard Church where he had been an associate pastor since 1975.

Today, Immaculate Heart of Mary parish numbers 2,400 families who live in the area bounded by Cullom Ave, on the north; Irving Park rd. on the south; Pulaski rd. on the west; and California Ave, on the eaSt. No longer exclusively Polish, the parish membership now includes families of German, Irish, and Italian descent. The 489 students enrolled in the school in 1978 represented 45 nationalities including Indians, Koreans, Filipinos, South Americans, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans as well as children of European descent. The faculty then numbered 10 Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and 13 lay teachers.

Father Zawistanowicz continues the custom of making home visits to new parishioners. Members of the Legion of Mary-which celebrated its 25th anniversary in December 1978-also welcome new families to Immaculate Heart of Mary parish. Approximately 25 parish groups are in existence, among them the School Board, three liturgical choirs, a Lay Liturgy Commission, Holy Name Society, Mothers Club, Legion of Mary, Altar and Rosary Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, and an active scouting program.

Rev. Jerome S. Siwek, former pastor of St. Josaphat Church, and Rev. Kenneth G. Kiepura serve as associate pastors.

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

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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