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Chicago - St. Salomea Parish 1897-1990
by Thomas J. Draus, Box 464, Hazel Green, W1 53811-0464
from the PGSA Summer 1994 Bulletin. Used
St. Salomea Parish, at 118th and Indiana
Avenue on the far south side of Chicago, was built by Polish immigrants.
People of all nationalities came to the area. Among them were Poles who
were seeking work at the Pullman Company and at other new factories in
the Kensington community. John Dluzak and Francis Szafranski were among
the first to come to the area and, after them, many other Poles moved
in. This was about the year 1881 and there was no church for them; they
had to worship at the Irish parish of Holy Rosary at 113th and South Park
Knowing that they had enough people to
plan and build a church of their own, they organized the St. Stanislaus
Kostka Society to be the foundation of their cause. This occurred in 1889
with the first meeting, which was held at the home of Teofil Mixtacki.
A committee consisting of Paul Andryczka, Francis Szafranski, John Kuczkiewicz
and Teodor Mixtacki was elected to help form the start of the parish.
They rented a hall near Kensington and Prairie Avenues and, in November
of 1897, opened a schoolhouse where church services were also held for
a year and a half. The priest who tended to their services was the Very
Rev. Francis X. Krol from a Hegewisch Polish-Irish parish; there were
54 families present at his first Mass. The Rev. Truszynski from Holy Trinity
parish was assigned to teach catechism to the students during the week.
The parish kept growing and increased
contributions allowed the Society to purchase land at 118th and Indiana
Avenue. On this land they built a wooden church facing 118th street at
a cost of $2,000.00. However, with this building came more parishioners,
and so they petitioned for their own resident pastor. The Rev. Casimir
Gronkowski was assigned in April of 1900, as the new wooden church was
being erected. This building was consecrated on November 18, 1900 and
clergy present at that service, in addition to Rev. Gronkowski, were Archbishop
Feenan, Bishop Paul Rhode, Rev. Francis Wojtalewicz, Rev. Francis Birgiera,
Rev. Boleslaus Nowakowski and the Rev. Francis Lange. It was the Rev.
Lange who preached the dedication sermon.
During the tenure of Rev. Gronkowski,
the parish boundaries were extended and reached from 85th street to 130th
street and from Wentworth Avenue to Lake Calumet. Also, while he was there,
the wooden rectory at 11816 So. Indiana Avenue was built, and a frame
school in 1902; and the Sisters of St. Joseph were invited to teach the
grammar school children.
Father Gronkowski was transferred, in
December of 1904, St. Adalbert parish and the Rev. Francis Jagielski was
named his successor. The parish was growing rapidly and, by 1906, 120
children were enrolled in the parish school. Because of this rapid growth,
it was determined that a new church building was necessary. Under Father
Jagielski's leadership construction began on the new building, but he
was transferred before it was completed. On February 29, 1912, the Rev.
John Lange was appointed pastor and he supervised the completion of this
edifice, which he dedicated on May 30, 1913. Also during his time, he
built a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph and expanded the school.
Parish membership at the time of dedication included 500 families and
500 single persons.
It was time for change again and, in
September of 1915, Father Lange was transferred to another parish; on
October 16, 1915 the Rev. Joseph Pajkowski was named pastor. Under his
supervision the parish's Societies continued to grow and be active in
directing the Church. His first organist, Theodore Sobolewski, was succeeded
by John Mikulski, who held this position for many years. During Father
Pajkowski's tenure the Church membership continued to grow in the 1920's,
and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the parish was celebrated
on November 18, 1923. School enrollment grew rapidly and, by 1925, 518
students were in attendance. Father Pajkowski died at the age of 54 on
October 15, 1933 and his successor was the Rev. Stanislaus Chyla.
Father Chyla supervised the installation
of the new organ in the choir, had the building repainted, installed loud
speakers, microphones, and a system of chimes that sounded every 15 minutes
from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Father also planned for a new school and fostered
an athletic program organized by the Rev. Anthony Dudek and a dramatic
club established by the Rev. Paul Mytys. Father Chyla served the parish
until early summer of 1942 when the Rev. Henry Jagodzinski began his tenure.
Father Jagodzinski became pastor in July
of 1942 and, under his direction, the Church debt was paid off and the
people of the parish sent many tons of clothing and $20,000 to aid the
families in Poland during the years of WW2. The Church celebrated its
Golden Jubilee on April 25, 1948 and, in November of that year, Father
Jagodzinski was transferred to another parish. His successor was the Rev.
Father Sobota directed the construction
of the grammar school in 1949 at 11816 So. Indiana Avenue, which was the
former site of the first Rectory; this school cost $350,000 dollars. Several
years after its completion, he supervised construction of a new convent
which cost $245,000 dollars, and it was dedicated on October 26, 1960.
A new Rectory was built on the site of the old frame school at a cost
of $145,000 and it was dedicated in September of 1965. In March of 1966,
Father Sobota was named pastor emeritus and continued to live in the Rectory
until he died on January 20, 1968.
Rev. Charles Gryzik was named pastor
in March of 1966; under his supervision, in anticipation of the parish's
75th anniversary, the interior of tile church was carpeted, the exterior
tuckpointed, and necessary repairs were made to the steeples. A special
Diamond Jubilee Mass was celebrated on November 11, 1973 with the Auxiliary
Bishop Alfred L. Abramowicz the principal celebrant.
St. Salomea had its peak membership right
after the end of World War 11 when 1,200 families belonged to the parish
and 400 children were enrolled in the school. As a result of racial change
in the far southside communities, the number of Catholics living in the
area declined during the 1960's. Several other ethnic parishes existing
in close proximity to St. Salomea were closed in 1973 and in 1990 St.
Salomca was one of many Catholic churches in Chicago to be closed.
St. Salomea's final day was Sunday, May
27, 1990 and a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated at 8 a.m. in English
and at 9:45 a.m. in Polish. The Presider was the Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory
of Chicago, Vicar and the concelebrants were: Rev. Charles Gryzik, Rev.
John Flaherty and Rev. William Stenzel. The Lectors were William Jablonski
and Agatha Lachcik. Music was by the St. Victor Choir.
Just after Communion, when the priest
began the closing prayers, the bells in the steeple began to ring out
and then the congregation sang "Serdcczna Matko" (Beloved Mother). The
combination of the bells ringing all this time while the people sang this
song was a truly moving event. The congregation of about 100 filed out,
to exchange greetings with the priests and each other; the bells were
silenced and it was over.
To the people of the past who built this
parish, we say "WELL DONE." St. Salonica was built by immigrants from
Poland as a strong expression of their faith. This faith mattered more
than anything else in their lives and many of these men and women denied
themselves comforts in their own lives so that God would have a beautiful
house. They would settle for nothing less than the magnificent stained
glass windows, beautiful wood-carved altars and woodwork throughout His
house. They took on a heavy debt and put in many hours of planning to
see it through to completion.
The interior of this church was designed
with stained glass windows and arches so as to focus your attention to
the altar and the tabernacle. Never to be forgotten were the bells and
chimes that called the people to services and also to announce the death
of a parishioner. From St. Salomea parish, 13 men and women dedicated
their lives in the service of God. Those ordained to the priesthood were
the Rev. Stanley Linianowski and the Rev. Edmund Szott. Eleven women of
the parislijoined religious orders as nuns. Their names before taking
vows, together with their religious names follow. In the Order of St,
Joseph, Regina Spychaj (Sister Mary Henrietta)-, Magdalinc Gorczowski
(Sister Mary Fidelia), Marcela Dobosz (Sister Mary Bronislaus), Anna Babiasz
(Sister Mary Edith), Cunnegundc Musial (Sister Marv Gencrosa)-, Janette
Mackiewicz (Sister Mary Rosalind); Alice
Gerlich (Sister Mary Virginianna; Angeline Zeszuto (Sister Mary Christelia);
Eleonor Wilgus (Sister Mary Alberta); Dolores Koza (Sister Mary Aurelia).
In the Order of the Felician Sisters, Mary Hanneman (Sister Mary Alphonsetta).
The Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of St. Francis are also remembered
for the high standards that they established and maintained, and we are
indeed proud to have been their pupils.
As a tribute to all the Sisters who taught
at St. Salomea, I would like to remember the faculty during the year of
1947. They were:
Sister M. Alcantara
Sister M. Amadea
Sister M. Athanasia
Sister M. Beata
Sister M. Berthilda
Sister M. Boniface
Sister M. Canute&
Sister M. Fidelis
Sister M. Juanita
Sister M. Madeline
Sister M. Rita
For many, many years, it was Sister Alcantara
who was responsible for the training of those who wished to be altar boys.
Tile priests who helped the pastors of
St. Salomca from its beginning through the late 1940's include the Rev.
Felix Prange, the Rev. J. Poczynski, the Rev. Francis Kulinski, the Rev.
T. Kendziora, the Rev. Joseph Selinke, the Rev. S. Hine, the Rev. F. Modrzeiiski,
the Rev. J. Kendziora, the Rev. Edward Schuster, the Rev. Paul Mytys,
the Rev. Anthony Dudek, the Rev. William Pasclike, the Rev. Edward Nikliborc,
the Rev. Ray Ploszynski, the Rev. Anthony Rydecki and Rev. Walter Szczypula.
In closing, all who were members of this
parish can be thankful for this great privilege of belonging to it. We
are grateful to all those who saw the parish through its beginnings, and
to those who maintained this inheritance through the years.