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St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish - Rockford IL

A brief parish history from the 1962 Jubilee Book

One of the first problems which concerned Bishop Muldoon when he became the first Bishop of Rockford was that of caring for foreign-born Catholics, many of whom did not as yet understand or speak the language of their new land. As with other nationalities, so it was with the Polish.

Father Julius Grzezinski, ordained for the diocese, came to Rockford late in 1909 to work among the Polish Catholics as a distinct group. For three months he worked here, gathering them together to attend a regular Sunday Mass of their own at St. James Pro-Cathedral.

The Polish population gradually increased and by 1911 it became evident that soon they would need a church of their own. In September of that year, Bishop Muldoon purchased two lots at the corner of Buckbee and Magnolia Streets. The following January 12, he called a meeting of the Polish Catholics in the hall of St. James school, at which he told them of his plans for their parish. Another meeting was held on January 21 to plan for the raising of the necessary funds. Ground was broken on April 6, 1912, for a stucco church, thirty-two by sixty-five feet; it was completed early in August.

Father Julian Burzynski, of Chicago, gave a mission at St. James for the Polish-speaking Catholics of the city in April, 1912. Bishop Muldoon was able to secure his services for the diocese and he returned on June 6, 1912, to complete the organization of the parish and to become its first pastor. He lived for a year at St. Anthony Hospital, acting also as chaplain there.

On the Feast of the Assumption, the new church was dedicated by Bishop Muldoon. Three altars were donated by St. Patrick parish, Amboy, the Catholic Women's League donated the linens and Father Daniel Feeley, pastor of St. Mary parish, Durand, presented the organ. A house, located diagonally across Magnolia Street from the church, was purchased in the spring of 1913, for use as a rectory. A parochial school was built in 1923; classes were begun in September, 1924.

Father Burzynski died after a short illness on November 15, 1927, at St. Anthony Hospital. Father Ladislaus Jasinski was the next pastor; he was assisted for two years by Father Joseph Rzeszotko, a newly ordained son of the parish. In 1931, failing health caused Father Jasinski to retire. Because of the scarcity of Polish clergy, Bishop Hoban invited the Franciscan Conventual Fathers, of Buffalo, to administer the parish. Father Felix Baran, O.F.M.Conv., at that time pastor of St. Josaphat Basilica in Milwaukee, provided for the spiritual needs of the parish on Sundays and Days of Obligation, with the help of his assistant priests.

Father Clement Kacprzynski, O.F.M.Conv., was appointed pastor on May 24, 1931, and remained until September, 1939; he was succeeded by: Father Apollinaris Paryz, O.F.M. Cony., until his death, January 1, 1942; Father Ladislaus Surak, O.F.M.Conv., until September, 1942, when he was elected Secretary of St. Bonaventure Province; Father Camille Marosz, O.F.M. Cony., until his death, August 29, 1945; Father Sigismund Grochowski, O.F.M.Conv., until September, 1951; Father Edward RuppenthaI, O.F.M.Conv., until the appointment of the present pastor, Father Roman Malkowski, O.F.M. Cony., in August, 1957.

Under the direction of the Franciscan Fathers, the parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka has prospered. A debt of over $80,000.00 was completely liquidated and a building fund of $200,000.00 was built up.

When St. Stanislaus Kostka parish was established in 1912, the membership consisted of some 30 families. It has grown to over 400 families. With this substantial growth and the old church seating about 170 people, His Excellency Bishop Lane gave permission for the construction of a new Church and Rectory for St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, May 26, 1959.

On May 24, 1959, His Excellency Bishop Lane, presided at the Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated by Father Roman on the occasion of his silver jubilee of Holy Priesthood. A reception was held that Sunday afternoon in the Parish hail, at which time Father Roman received the accolade of his parishioners.

Permission was granted to arrange for the tearing down of the present St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in July of 1960. On April 23, 1961, His Excellency Bishop Loras T. Lane, performed the Blessing and laying of the cornerstone of the new church, erected on the site of the old church at the corner of Buckbee and Magnolia.

Dedication of the new St. Stanislaus Kostka church in observance of the Golden jubilee of the parish was celebrated Sunday, May 27, with a Solemn Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving at 11:45 A.M. by the Most Reverend Loras T. Lane, Bishop of Rockford. The dedicatory sermon was given by the Very Reverend Matthias Biedrzycki, O.F.M.Conv., Minister Provincial, St. Bonaventure Province.

The new church seats 500. A new rectory adjoins the church on the east. The first Mass in the new church was celebrated Christmas Eve, 1961. The parish includes over 400 families with nearly 1,500 souls. Over 200 children attend the parish school which is staffed by four Sisters of the Congregation of St. Felix. Nine daughters of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish have become Sisters and the following priests are native to the parish: Father Joseph Rzeszotko and Father Bernard Harezlak, O.F.M.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011