Founded in 1914 as a Polish parish in a still rural area that had been annexed to the city in 1889 in advance of the World’s Columbian Exposition. The Polish term for the surrounding area, Władysławowo derives from the Polish name for the church’s patron, St. Ladislaus. Originally a mission of St. Wenceslaus, the first church, a combination church and school building, was already in place by August 1915, an impressive feat given that the parish still only numbered about 100 families in 1920. The parish was key in spurring growth in the Portage Park area as it drew in Polish immigrants from the tenements west of the city center concentrated in the Polish Downtown area of West Town. Nearby Chopin Park stands as a testament to this, named after Poland’s most famous pianist and composer of the infamous Funeral March. With this development, the original pastor’s residence above the Hupka (now Kopec) Funeral Chapel at 5259 W. Roscoe at the time of the building of the first church gave way to the parish plant typical of Polish parishes in the Chicago area, as first the school was enlarged and a convent as well as a rectory were bought. The cost of all these improvements totalled nearly $76,000.
Rapid growth of the Portage Park area had led to rapid growth of St. Ladislaus in the same way the parish served as a magnet for this development. By the time St. Ladislaus celebrated its silver jubilee, the parish had paid off all its debt, and a building fund for the new church had already been started. However construction was delayed by the outbreak of World War II. Finally, on Nov. 17, 1952, ground was broken for the church at the northwest corner of Long and Henderson. The cornerstone was laid on Apr. 12, 1953, and the imposing brick edifice was opened on June 12, 1955 for its first Mass.
The very beginning history of this parish starts long before 1914. In this quickly growing town, local people that resided here at the time had a deep desire for spiritual deepening. The initiative of the people was to buy a parcel of land. And with this they went to the curia in request to establish their very own parish. Father Ferdynand Scieszka from Saint Waclaw was elected to organize the parish. Thanks in part to the efforts of Edmund Szajkowski the result was the successful project and building of a wooden church.
The first mass was performed on August 9, 1914. A year later on August 9, 1915 the church was expanded and was continuously used until the end of the 1950’s. This exact church is not currently in existence as it used to be located on Roscoe street in between the old wings of the existing school. From the very beginning the Nazarene sisters were responsible for educating the children. The enrollment numbers of the children at the time was equivalent to today’s enrollment. Approximately 130 persons.
In 1924 there were additional two-flat winged buildings on both sides of the wooden church. This building had a dual purpose. It was a convent as well as a classroom for students. Currently this building still stands and is used as a part of the old school. These two buildings are connected together with a concrete wall. A year later a building was bought for use as a convent ( 5346 W. Roscoe) In 1926 the building next to the convent was bought and made into the rectory. ( 5342 W. Roscoe) Both buildings are still in existence today but no longer belong to the parish.
They made plans to build a church from concrete but those plans took a longer time most likely because of the eruption of World War II. At the 25th year Jubilee Anniversary of the existing parish, the members started to collect donations for the completion of the development of the concrete church. The foundation of the church was started on 1952. An interesting fact to mention was on June 12, 1953 the 1st mass celebrated also happened fall on 2 separate holy days of the year. The parishioners now had two reasons to celebrate. The first was the new spacious church building and the ordination of the new Franciscan priest Brendan Wroblewski which was conducted in the new space. During the duration of the construction the head priest Stanislaw Czapelski was at the head of the construction. The priest was responsible for the oversight of the project for many years. In appreciation of Father Czapelski’s dedication the parishioners created an honorary plaque in commemoration of all of his hard work.
In 1964 the parishioners continued to expand the convent and the school. These renovations are in existence and use today. A few years ago the church was thoroughly renovated and updated. Besides the painting of the interior church, there were also added the following paintings; Divine Mercy Jesus, and Mother Mary Guadalupe. In the back of the church a chapel was created and was canonized in the Jubilee year of our parish. In 2013 the patronage of the parish was turned over to the Jesuits, Province of Southern Poland.
The presence of the Jesuit priests is not something new at St Ladislaus. Throughout our history of the parish the Jesuits had a large impact on this parish. Throughout the many years the parish was very closely involved with the Jesuits from Avers – copiloting the missions of the church. Because of the missionary work performed by the Jesuits the spiritual life of the parishioners was enriched greatly.
You can read more about the history of the Jesuits and the contributions towards St Ladislaus in the book of Society of Jesus. The second calling in our parish history is the calling for the Jesuit order. On the stone of our church is a visible plaque. It is visible on the right side of the main entrance of the church looking from Long Street and reads: “ Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” This means for the Greater Glory of God. This is the motto of the Jesuits and the founder of St Ignatius Loyola. This stone was put in 1953 exactly 50 years before the Jesuits started their missions here. The Jesuit ministry followed from 1980-1981 Father Stephana Filipowicz was the curate of the parish.
The formation of the faithful is much more than just the building and the priests working there. The parishioners were very active members of the church and founded several groups that further promoted their spiritual growth. In 1995 the following groups were started: The Polish Club, The Living Rosary and youth group. The Rosary Sodality group which was formed since the very beginning of the parishes establishment, still exists today and will be celebrating their 100 year Jubile.
Recently the church has established bible classes for children during each Sunday noon mass. Since the parish was established there also was started an American grammar school. During the weekends Taddeusz Kosciuszko Polish school conducts their Polish school classes. Both these schools are foundational in the formation of intellectual, religious, cultural, and patriotic development.
List of Pastors of St. Ladislaus Parish
- Rev. Ferdinand C. Scieszka – never appointed as a pastor, acting as administrator ….. 1914-1915
- Rev. Anthony Halgas ….. 1915-1921
- Rev. Boleslaus Nowakowski ….. 1921-1924
- Rev Stanislaus Czapelski ….. 1924-1966
- Rev. Clement Jagodzinski ….. 1966-1973
- Rev. Walter J. Zmija ….. 1973-1981
- Rev. William J. Lisowski ….. 1981-1995
- Rev. Stephen F. Kanonik ….. 1995-2005
- Rev. Jan Kaplan ….. 2005-2010
- Rev. Jacek Wrona ….. 2010-2013
- Rev. Marek Janowski, SJ ….. 2013-2019
- Rev. Tomasz Ludwicki SChr ….. 2019-
List of Pastor Associates of St. Ladislaus Parish
- Rev. Edward Przybylski ….. 1928-1934
- Rev. Julius Gilewski ….. 1934-1940
- Rev. John Kalata ….. 1941-1947
- Rev. Edward Nikliborc ….. 1947-1950
- Rev. Walter Szczypula ….. 1950-1961
- Rev. Stanley Dopak ….. 1954-1957
- Rev. Anthony Swiersz ….. 1959-1964
- Rev. Felix Lata ….. 1961-1966
- Rev. Joseph Nowak ….. 1966-1968
- Rev. Henry Olejniczak ….. 1968-1974
- Rev. John Cardiff ….. 1968-1969
- Rev. Thomas Libera ….. 1969-1976
- Rev. Robert Burnell ….. 1975-1980
- Rev. Casimir Kozien ….. 1976-1978
- Rev. Stefan Filipowicz, S.J ….. 1980-1981
- Rev. Robert Darow ….. 1981-1984
- The Most Reverend Andrew Wypych ….. 1985-1986
(Auxilary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago from 2011)
- Rev. Clement Carroll ….. 1987-1989
- Rev. George Vellurattil ….. 1989
- Rev. Bruno Janik ….. 1990-1995
- Rev. Walter Takuski ….. 1995-1997
- Rev. Peter A. Kreis ….. 1997-2001
- Rev. Andrzej Bartos ….. 2000-2007
- Rev. Kazimierz Rzonca ….. 2000-2001
- Rev. Mariusz Nawalaniec ….. 2001-2007
- Rev. Jan Mucha ….. 2007-2012
- Rev. Andrzej Bartosz ….. 2009-2012
- Rev. Marcin Zasada ….. 2012-2013
- Rev. Damian Mazurkiewicz SJ ….. 2013-2019
- Rev. Zygmunt Ostrowski SChr …… 2019-2020
- Rev. Mateusz Szleger SChr ….. 2020-
♦ St. Ladislaus Parish in Chicago old Website : www.stladislauschurch.org