History of St. Genevieve Church
St. Genevieve Parish, which began as a mission parish in 1889, served the Catholics of the area then known as Cragin. In the year 1889, a committee of Catholics in the area, petitioned Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan for a Mission and he granted their request.
Mass was offered in a school house at the corner of St. Louis and Homer Avenues. The Mission (from 1889 to 1894) was attended to every Sunday by the priests of St. Sylvester's Church.
During the year 1894, the Reverend James A. Hynes was placed in charge of the Mission. Fr. Hynes was pastor of Our Lady of Angels Church. During the same year, a plot of land at 2013-2017 N. Lavergne Avenue was donated to be used as church property. In December 1901, a frame building consisting of the church and hall was built and later dedicated by Bishop Peter J. Muldoon. The Mission then became St. Genevieve Parish. The Reverend Thomas Kearney was named the first resident pastor on February 7, 1902 and remained until February, 1904. The Reverend Daniel Luttrell was assigned pastor of St. Genevieve Parish in 1904 by Archbishop James E. Quigley. During his pastorate, Father Luttrell built the parochial residence and made other improvements.
On October 4, 1912, Archbishop Quigley appointed the Reverend Timothy D. Burke as pastor of St. Genevieve's Parish. Father Burke's faithful labors wiped out a long-standing parish debt, after which he made plans for an expensive building program. A new site for the parish unit was secured at Montana Street and Lamon Avenue. The building of a combination church, school and hall was started on March 17, 1924, and completed in the early part of 1928. The new church seated 700 worshipers. After the combination building was completed, the frame Church at the Lavergne site was dismantled and a project to move the rectory building was started in January, 1924. In May, 1925, the rectory house was placed on the new location at 4838 W. Montana.
The church was dedicated by His Eminence George Cardinal Mundelein on October 25, 1925. A convent for the sisters, an ornate component of the parochial unit, was begun December 8,1930 and completed May 11, 1931. As the enrollment of the school increased, an additional complete floor was added to the present school building and completed in 1931.
The further growth of St. Genevieve Parish necessitated a larger church. Father Burke, after much study and inspection, selected the modernistic Byzantine/Romanesque style of architecture for his people. Drawings were prepared which contained an upper church and a lower church and rectory as one unit. The upper and lower churches each seated 1000 worshippers. The new church was started on September 14, 1939 and completed October 20, 1940. In the lower church, the first Mass was offered on June 16, 1940. The first Mass celebrated in the upper church was October 20, 1940.
When the present church was completed, the entire church floor of the school building was converted into classrooms. His eminence Samuel Cardinal Stritch dedicated the present church of St. Genevieve on Sunday, June 8, 1941. In 1942, Kindergarten classes were started in the former rectory house.
After the death of Father Burke, His Eminence Samuel Cardinal Stritch appointed Reverend Luke H. Lyons pastor of St. Genevieve's Parish on November 26, 1944. During his pastorate of 22 years, a new kindergarten building was erected in 1948. An additional floor was added and completed in 1954 to accommodate the kindergarten and first grade pupils. He made various improvements of parish property and the school playground. The school had an enrollment at one time of approximately 1200 pupils.
In August 1954, Father Lyons was elevated to Right Reverend Monsignor by Cardinal Stritch for dedicated years in the leadership of serving God's people. Monsignor Lyons secured the property at 4851 W. Montana and the parking lots to Lamon avenue, to be used as both a parking facility and playlot for the pupils.
On Sunday, December 16, 1962, St. Genevieve Parishioners celebrated the 73rd Anniversary of its founding as a Mission.
In 2020, to address the challenges of our time, we were called to renew and revitalize the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago. With the help of the Renew My Church strategic plan, and after much prayer and deliberation, it was determined that the best way to fulfill that call in our area, was by joining St. Genevieve Parish and St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish into a new, stronger and more efficient parish. On July 1st, 2020, SS. Genevieve and Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish was born. It is composed of two worship sites and one school.
These are the "bare bones" of the history of the life of this church. This skeleton was given flesh and life by the lives and sacrifices of the men, women, and children who were and are members of our Christian community: the priests who led the liturgical, spiritual, and administrative life of the parish; the Sisters who taught generations of children, cared for the sacristy, and provided music for worship; the men and women who gave of their time, talent, and treasure to build and sustain this, their spiritual home.
History of St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Church
In 1893, Cragin was still largely a farming community. Polish families had begun to buy lots and build houses even though the streets were unpaved. In 1893, the Polish settlers desired a parish of their own. So, a committee was established to collect funds and formulate a petition to the Archbishop requesting a Polish priest. A Real Estate Company contributed five lots near Long Avenue and the committee purchased five more near Lorel Avenue.
The first church was erected on two lots. It was a two-story wooden structure. A hall, two classrooms, and a small office were located on the first floor. The church was located on the second floor. Soon Archbishop Feehan approved the establishment of the new parish and appointed Fr. Barzynski, C.R., to organize and supervise it.
The first Mass in the blessed church was celebrated on Sunday, July 2, 1893. Since the congregation was small and poor, it could not support a resident priest. Fr. Theophil Szypkowski, C.R., was appointed by Fr. Barzynski to make the weekly trip to Cragin for the celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments.
On October 21, 1901, Fr. John Obyrtacz, C.R., became the first resident Pastor of Saint Stan's. Fr. John devoted himself in strengthening the parish and placing it on a sound financial base. In 1902, nine additional lots were purchased and a convent was built. Fr. Obyrtacz arranged for the newly formed community of Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda to take charge of the parish school. Three Sisters arrived in September, 1902. The Sisters made an immediate impact upon the children by improving discipline and raising educational standards.
Disaster hit on Tuesday of Holy Week March 26, 1907. Lightning struck the belfry setting the church-school on fire. The building was completely destroyed within two hours.
The Pastor and parishioners immediately began plans for a new church. Funds were raised and the cornerstone was laid and blessed on July 21, 1907. Archbishop James Edward Quigley blessed the new combination church-school building on December 8, 1907. The cost of the new building was $50,000. In 1913, construction was begun on a new parish hall that was to serve as the foundation of the new church. It was completed in 1914. Construction of the present church was begun above the hall in 1925. Fr. Francis Kubiaczyk, C.R., the new Pastor of Saint Stan's, completed the building project in 1927 at the cost of $157,000.
On Sunday, September 26, 1993, the Parish of St. Stanislaus B & M, celebrated its 100th anniversary.
In 2004, after a long history of fruitful service to the families in the Cragin area, St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr School was closed due to a shrinking student body.
In 2020, to address the challenges of our time, we were called to renew and revitalize the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Chicago. With the help of the Renew My Church strategic plan, and after much prayer and deliberation, it was determined that the best way to fulfill that call in our area, was by joining St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish and St. Genevieve Parish into a new stronger and more efficient parish. On July 1st, 2020, SS. Genevieve and Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish was born. It is composed of two worship sites and one school.
Today we want to thank the Lord for every person who has lived, worked, suffered and died in this parish, and for all those who contributed with their generosity to the construction of these beautiful churches.
All of these men and women have built, by their selfless dedication to the Word of God and the Sacraments, "a Christian Community in which all can experience the hope, joy and peace of Christ's Resurrection". We want to thank the Lord for all, living and deceased, who have strived to make this parish “one family, united in the Spirit and the love of Christ, on the model of the first Christian family in Jerusalem".
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