St. James Parish History

The new Church and School Building was completed in 1928. The Most Rev. Bernard J. Shiel, D.D., Suffragan Bishop of Chicago and Vicar General of the Archdiocese, presided at the dedication ceremonies and preached on this solemn occasion. He was assisted by Rev. Francis Jagielski, Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Rev. Francis Marcinek, Rev. Aloysius Szczerkowski as deacon and Rev. Edward Przybylski, at that time assistant at St. Wenceslaus Parish, was subdeacon.

The Parish records show that three Felician Sisters arrived at St. James Parish in September 1914 to take charge of the school. Sister M. Geneveive was Sister Superior at the time. Since that time, Felician Sisters are in full charge.

St. James Parochial School always stood very high and still does scholastically speaking. It is fully accredited since April 25, 1930. Her graduates make a good account of themselves wherever they go?in high school, colleges and universities, bringing fame and glory to her name in every field of endeavor. They are a credit not only, to the School and the teachers but also to the Parish itself, not only because of the education given them but also because of the religious and the moral training they have received during their stay at St. James Parochial School.

Of great assistance in promoting the spiritual welfare of the school children are the societies existing in the school, namely, the Society of the Guardian Angels, for school children from first grade on. The Children of Mary Sodality, for girls after First Holy Communion, the purpose of which is to foster devotion to the Blessed V.M.; The Eucharistic Crusade, for both boys and girls after First Holy Communion to cultivate a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and finally, the Altar Boys Society, for boys who serve at the various church services.

An honorable mention must be made of the school children's orchestra in 1928 under direction of R. Mau, who was succeeded by A. Pertacelli and upon whose death, Edward Terlikowski was placed in charge.

Credit, where credit is due! Much has been accomplished in St. James Parish from its very inception as the records proudly show, due to many factors, but much of the success and progress in the Parish can be attributed to the splendid work and collaboration of the Felician Sisters who without any fanfare stuck to their post, performing their ardous duties more than well, to the great satisfaction of all concerned. Because of lack of space it is impossible to mention the names of all the Felicion Sisters who worked at St. James, with such great zeal and devotion through all these years.

However, mention will be made, only of the Sisters in charge, and in giving credit to the Sisters Superiors, credit is given simultaneously to all the Sisters under their charge, and ipso facto to the entire Felician Sisters Community, with headquarters at 3800 West Peterson Avenue, Chicago 60645, Illinois.

The Sisters, in mind are the following, some of whom already have gone to their well deserved heavenly reward:
Sister M. Genevieve, Sister M. Makaria, Sister M. Angeline, Sister M. Alice, Sister M. Alexander, Sister M. Leticia, Sister M. Poschaline, Sister M. Vlodimiro, Sister M. Nazaria, Sister M. Leonilla, Sister M. De Arc, Sister M. Mercedes, Sister M. Gonzaga, Sister M. Albino, Sister M. Alocoque, Sister M. Salvatore.



Under the administration of Father Marcinek, the first ten years so cheerful and promising at the beginning, turned into gloom and grim foreboding with the start of the great economical depression in the year 1929 woeful repercussions of which become felt very keenly even in St. James Parish as time wore on. Work became very scarce, and because of the loss of employment, untold numbers of parishioners found themselves in a very precarious situation. Many lost their mortgaged homes, because of inability to make their interest payments. Many in consequence, left the parish, to which they were very much attached, to move into other neighborhoods. Those who held on and stayed were simply unable to support the parish, even if they wished to. The Parish found itself groaning under a huge burden of a heavy debt?it was unable to pay off any of the capital, it found it very difficult even to meet its interest payments, unable to satisfy its diocesan obligations?in a word, it was simply unable to make both ends meet. The period from 1929 on was indeed, very trying for St. James Parish.

It was at this critical juncture that His Eminence George Cardinal Mundelein appointed Rev. Edward A. Przybylski, then assistant at Five Holy Martyrs Parish, to succeed Father Marcinek, as Pastor of St. James Parish.


With the appointment of a new Pastor, a new era in the annals of the Parish began. Before long not only the Parish but the entire neighborhood started to hum with activity. After a careful appraisal of the grim situation confronting the Parish, the new Pastor decided on a course of action. In the first place, it was necessary to acquaint the parishioners with the actual financial condition of the parish, and then, to suggest the necessary means and the proper course of action to ease the difficult situation. A worm appeal was made to all of the people and to the Church societies. The response in the Parish was splendid and most encouraging. Hope began to replace deep concern, enthusiasm gave rout to abject discouragement, bright rays of sunshine gradually began to appear on the dark and gloomy horizon of St. James Parish. The war upon the Parish indebtedness was declared and waged with a fierce determination and intensity beyond all compare, with Father Przybylski in the vanguard, ably assisted by The Rev. John Kalata and Rev. Francis Porembski, his assistants.

Only two days after the arrival of the new Pastor, plans already had been started to arrange a Parish Carnival, on the Parish grounds at Fullerton and Menard Avenues. It proved to be a great success.

Societies later began to arrange various social functions with the proceeds ear marked for St. James Parish.

The next year, which happened to be the Silver Jubilee year of St. James Parish, the Parish Carnival proved to be even a bigger success than the preceding one.

It is interesting to note that from December 1938 to November 1939 the Parish reduced its debt by $13,000.00, leaving a balance of indebtedness of $208,800.00, a staggering figure in those days. Besides, there were floating debts with which the Parish was encumbered and which had to be paid as soon as possible.

The initial success served as an encouragement and incentive for the new Pastor to carry on the work that was so nobly started. The Church annals clearly show, that this work not only did not halt for a moment, but continued at an ever increasing speed: everybody gave a willing and helping hand?not only the older folks, but also the youth of the Parish, the school children, the Church Societies, not only the parishioners but also the steadily increasing number of friends and sympathizers from beyond the confines of St. James Parish.

The main source of income come from the different social activities, sponsored directly by the Parish and Church organizations, and particularly the Parish Carnivals-popularly known as "The St. James Parish Outdoor Fiestas." These Fiestas made known to all, that St. James Parish was not a place hidden and forgotten somewhere on the outskirts of the City, in the woods; that it no longer was an isolated spot, a sort of a neglected ghetto, but a beautiful neighborhood with a bright future! The scale and the high caliber of Fiestas mentioned above and the noble cause they represented attracted people not only in the confines of the parish, not only in the immediate vicinity, but as time wore on?from all over the City of Chicago.
Within the span of eight years all of the Parish debt was liquidated and all diocesan obligations satisfied.


In brief, not only the parish debt of $220,000.00 was wiped out but also the interest on that sum of over $80,000.00 paid, plus the payment of various floating parochial debts. In other words, within the time mentioned over $300,000.00 had been raised to make the parish solvent.


But this was not all . . . Vast improvements and necessary repairs had been made, especially in the Auditorium Building, which originally served as a temporary combination church and school building. Upon completion - the interior presented a beautiful sight. Lots of the work was done by willing volunteers with no expense to the parish. Whatever had to be done was paid in cash. No parish loans were drawn.


The same must be said about the repairs and improvements in the church. The sanctuary was enlarged, new altars provided, new organ installed and other improvements made. All this was done without encumbering the parish with any debt.


And after the completion of all necessary improvements and repairs the thoughts of the Pastor were directed towards the completion of the top floor in the corner Combination Church and School Building.


The completion of the top floor in that building not only enhanced the beauty of the structure proper but also provided remarkable all around improvements. A beautiful addition was made at the main front entrance and at the side entrance from Mango Avenue and Menard Avenue. Above the main front entrance provision was made for a spacious office for Sister Superior. Adjoining the Menard Avenue entrance, washroom facilities were installed for the convenience of the public.


The vestibule in the main front entrance serves as a War - Memorial, in honor of the young men and young women of St. James Parish, 800 in all, who served their Country so gallantly during World War 11 twenty five of whom gave their all, their lives for the noble cause. The interior of this vestibule presents a most inspiring and reverent spectacle, beautifully decorated with original oil paintings and stained glass windows. Attached to the marble wails, are four huge Honor Rolls with the names of all those of the Parish who served in the military forces of the U. S. A.


The sketch and plan of this beautiful Memorial is the work of Mr. Clement Piontek, architect, member of St. James Parish and erstwhile President of the Senior Branch of the Holy Name Society, which sponsored and raised the necessary funds for this noble project.


The completed top floor of the corner building contains 5 modern classrooms, a large and spacious library, and assembly room and a Teachers' Conference Room.


Who can forget Sunday, September 16, 1951?the day of the solemn dedication of the flag bedecked new school and the War Memorial. It was indeed a gala occasion with the entire Parish and neighborhood participating. In reality it was a huge public religious and patriotic demonstration. His Eminence Samuel Cardinal Stritch presided and preached a most inspiring, sermon. Rev. Francis Czarny, Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church was deacon and Rev. Joseph Karabasz, Chaplain of the Lt. Kennedy School at Palos Park, subdeacon. There was a large attendance of clergy and the church was filled to capacity. A very colorful parade preceded the church services proper in which school children with American flags in hand participated. The youth of the Parish as well as the older folks also took active part. Numerous War Veterans' Army Posts in gala uniforms helped enhance the celebration. But the special feature of it all were the Drum and Bugle Corps of the Polish Alma Mater and the top notch Marching; Band of the Holy Trinity High School.


The concentration of all school children in the main school building made possible the completion of the remodeling of the old church and school building at 2434 N. Mango Avenue. The classrooms were converted into beautiful lounging rooms, a dining hall with accommodations for 150-175 people, a fine kitchen, a cloak room, and the church proper was converted into a spacious and attractive auditorium of distinctive classical beauty, the chief feature of which being a large theatrical stage. This building gradually became the hub of all Parish social activities. Here were staged innumerable plays by the different groups in the parish, by the school children under the able and willing supervision of the School Sisters, here were given concerts, here were sponsored programs of various kinds, here were all types of social functions; dances, weddings, etc. The hall never stood idle, it was always occupied for some social function. It was quiet only during Lent, which rule was scrupulously observed. Lent was regarded as a period devoted to penance, prayer and pious contemplation.

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