St. Mary of the Angels History (Continued)

We continue our weekly notes on the history of St. Mary of the Angels parish, starting right after the 50th anniversary:

In 1950, Rev. John (“Fr. Jack”) Grabowski CR was named pastor. His pastorate was characterized as “energetic”, with new changes and improvements: he discontinued the fish pond, paved the school yard, built a new convent for the Sisters at 1800 N. Hermitage Avenue for $450,000. August 16, 1953, Cardinal Stritch dedicated the new convent. Fr. Jack also established a Mother’s Club and weekly Bingo to improve the parish finances.

Three years later Fr. Chester Brzegowy CR became pastor. He put new roofs on the church and school, and did other important repairs. His quiet and gentle manner endeared him to his parishioners; he died suddenly after a brief illness in July 1957, which shocked the parish. The Kennedy Expressway Alters the Parish

Fr. Anthony Rybarczyk CR followed as pastor in 1957. He was another dynamic personality. He installed the sprinkler system in the school building, tuck pointed the church, had the church organ rebuilt, put padding on the church kneelers, installed new “modern” windows in the classrooms, rebuilt the church steps, and put new sidewalks around the block.

But in the early 1960s the construction of the Kennedy Expressway destroyed many homes in the neighborhood, reducing the parish and school by a third. (NB: the freeway totally cut off the Rolling Mill Irish families, along the Chicago River, from their nearby Annunciation parish and school, two blocks south of St. Mary of the Angels, such that the Irish parish had to be closed and razed in 1978).

Fr. Rybarczyk was transferred to a Resurrectionist parish in Fontana, California, in 1964 (he had a fatal heart attack and died there on October 4, 1970). Fr. Joseph Polinski CR became the next pastor. During his three-year pastorate Fr. Polinski repaired the bells and stained glass windows, as well as the heating systems for the church, rectory and school. He also began the youth athletic program for boys with basketball and Little League.

Next came Fr. Stanley Majkut CR in 1967. He established Scouting Programs for boys and girls at St. Mary of the Angels. A great lover of sports, Fr. Majkut cheered on the three CYO basketball teams—grammar school, high school, and the intermediates teams—as they excelled and won in the North Section CYO Tournament Championship of Chicago in 1971.

Fr. Majkut installed the glass brick windows in the school, put the fence up on Hermitage Avenue, and air-conditioned the school Auditorium. After the dome was struck by lightning on Good Friday, April 4th, 1969, causing a small fire, Fr. Majkut had the dome rebuilt in 1973. Fr. Majkut also installed a blue “Guiding Light” in the dome’s lantern as a sign to travelers on the Kennedy Expressway, that God and his Blessed Mother are our guiding light.

On February 17, 1974 Fr. Majkut resigned as pastor for health reasons. Fr. Edwin Karlowicz CR former Principal of Weber High School, took the reins to prepare the parish for its diamond anniversary that year.

Fr. John R. Waiss


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