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article Parish History
The seed is sown.
On December 2, 1923, twelve dedicated laymen laid the grounds for a seed of shared faith to grow for Polish Catholics who settled in the southwest side of Chicago. Motivated by a deep sense of concern for their community's spiritual welfare the group organized a committee to establish a Polish parish in this area. This committee was composed of Francis Sendzik, John Zolna, Joseph Zdziarski, Jacob Nowaczyk, John Klimczyk, Leonarda Andruskiewicz, Louis Stachowski, Victor Grygenc, Casimir Karpinski, Albert Martynowicz, Charles Kopera and Paul Glowiak. The seed was sown for the future of St. Bruno Parish.
Early Preparations
Msgr. Thomas Bona, a diocesan consultant, directed the parish-planning committee. With his approval, the committee circulated petitions to the local residents for support in establishing a new parish. Their perseverance finally brought them progress in May 1925 when a tract of land was purchased on Harding Avenue between 48th and 49th streets, laying the foundation for the new House of God.
Fr. Alexis S. Gorski - First Pastor
On September 12, 1925, Fr. Alexis S. Gorski, D.D., was appointed to the Pastorate of the newly organized St. Bruno Parish. Soon after, five lots were purchased on the corner of 48th and Springfield Avenue for future church buldings while Mass was temporarily celebrated in the hall of the nearby public school, Edwards Branch School. The new pastor and his future associates also needed living quarters in the neighborhood. The solution was found in the purchase of a residence at 4746 South Komensky, which served as a first St. Bruno rectory.
Our first church
Fr. Gorski then directed the construction of a temporary small church, which immediately was referred to as the Florist Shop for its greenhouse-resembling glass roof. On Christmas Day, 1925, Masses were celebrated in this primitive church for the first time, with boards nailed together serving as simple pews.
Growing Pains
With the increase of parishioners as month went by, two problems arose for the parish. First, as the "Florist Shop" church could no longer accommodate the growing parish, a new church building had to be built. Secondly, the need for a Catholic parochial school was keenly felt by the community. To accomplish both goals, the parish hired M.R. Sandel in 1926 to plan a multi-purpose building to hold the new church and parish school. Upon completion on October 2, 1927, Cardinal Mundelein blessed the combination building , which served the parish for decades. Over the years, many improvements were made, such as the renovation s of 1949, which included the installation of comfortable pews, the purchase of a new organ, the elevation of the main altar and the installation of a new concrete floor.
Founding Pastor Dies
After serving the people of St. Bruno for 28 years Fr. Gorski passed away on February 16, 1953. Many mourning parishioners and visiting priests participated inhis funeral services. Woth the Most Rev. Bernard Sheil, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago presiding.
Fr. Francis Modrzenski second pastor
Fr. Rancis Modrzenski, who had previously served as parish assistant from 1935 and as parish administrator from 1948, was appointed pastor of St. Bruno in March 1953. One of Fr. Modrzenski's first duties was to oversee the installation of the Sacred Heart shrine on the corner of 48th Street and Harding Ave. On June 14, 1953, the shrine was solemnly blessed by Msgr. George Casey, Vicar General of the Archdiocese. In January 1954, the parish played a key role in the continuing development of the Archer Heights community. Through the work of concerned parishioners, stoplights were finally installed on 49th Street and Archer Avenue, making the crossing much safer for St. Bruno school children. Improvements in the housing of the parish's Felician Sister community also occurred in 1954, giving the Sisters an enlraged and improved convent home on the corner of 49th and Springfield.
A new church building and rectory.
1955 saw the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new parish church building, which was to be erected on the southeast corner of 48th St. and Harding Ave. After its completion the parish was invited to take part in the memorable occasion of its dedication on September 30, 1956. His Eminence, Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago, in procession with the knights of Columbus, altar boys, school children and over fifty priests, consecrated and dedicated the new St. Bruno Church, and its new Carillon bell tower. Father Modrzenski's dream of building a temple for the greater glory of God was finally realized. Another seed seen to fruition in St. Bruno was the completion of what is today the parish rectory. It was built to provide the priests of the parish with new, comfortable quarters and much needed parish office and meeting room space. Soon after these major parish improvements, Fr. Modrzenski passed away on September 13, 1962, after serving the parish for 27 years.
Fr. Aloysius Przypyszny third pastor
In October of 1962, Fr. Przypyszny was appointed pastor of St. bruno by His Eminence, Albert Cardinal Meyer. During his brief administration, the plan for an addition to the school began, offering the facility much needed administrative and library space and more classrooms. However, Fr. Przypyszny passed away on Oct 28, 1963, never to see the completion of the new school addition he had planned.
Fr. Stanley Stoga Fourth pastor
Fr. Stanley Stoga succeeded as pastor of St. Bruno in December 1963. Under his direction, the addition to the school was completed. Serving at St. Bruno's for ten and a half years, Fr. Stoga helped put into effect many of the changes authorized by the Catholic Church during its period of renewal under Second Vatican Council. Also during this time, Fr. Stoga and the parishioners were successful in paying off debts incurred bythe new building and additions. Shortly before Fr. Stoga retired in June of 1974, the church was equipped with a central air-conditioning system.
Fr. Edmund Szlanga Fifth Pastor
Fr. Stoga's retirement meant that St. Bruno parish was, for the fifth time in its fifty-year history, going to have a new pastor. His Eminence, John Cardinal Cody, appointed Fr. Edmund S. Szlanga to the patorate of St. Bruno Parish on July 1, 1974. Fr. Szlanga began his pastorate by introducing the first of many improvements to the liturgical life of the parish, the children's liturgical program, in 1975. Two years later, the communion was allowed for the distribution by hand, and by 1978, the parish was celebrating its first special liturgy and communal anointing of the sick. Each improvement allowed parishioners greater opportunities to enhance their experience of the liturgy.
New parish improvements
Coinciding with these enhancements to the liturgy were renovations to the parish church itself. Since the construction of the new church in 1956, no major changes had occurred. By 1981, it became apparent that improvements were needed and plans were drafted for work to begin. By the spring of 1982, St. Bruno church featured new green carpeting, renovated side altar shrines and new tile mosaic featuring liturgical themes. St. Bruno's outdoor shrine to Our Lady of Chestochowa in 1983 concluded the renovation project, offering the Polish community of the parish a distinct marker of their religious and cultural heritage. St. Bruno parish flourished as social community under the years of Fr. Szlanga's leadership as well. Begun as an improvement to the school and its expanding youth sports program, the St. Bruno hall expansion and school gym (1977-78) also served as a meeting place for the parish's clubs and festivities. The most notable of these was the newly created Senior Citizen's Club (1978), which served the growing "silver" portion of the parish, as well as the many indoor parish festivals held in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Changes to the Roman Catholic Church
In terms of the larger Roman Catholic world, the period of the late 1970s marked an important transitional period for the church. Pope Paul VI passed away in August of 1978, followed by the installment and sudden demise of hi successor , Pope John Paul I. By October of that same year, the world welcomed Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in over four hundred years. Polish-American Catholics in Chicago celebrated their new Polish leader during his tour of the city in 1979, an exciting moment for many St. Bruno parishioners.
Fr. Joseph Grembla Sixth Pastor
Fr. Szlanga announced the end of his successful tenure at the parish in 1991, leaving behind seventeen years of stability and growth. His successor, Rev. Joseph Grembla, was already familiar with our parish, having served as assistant pastor from 1957-1964. Fr. Grembla was formally assigned as pastor of the parish by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin on August 11, 1991. From its start, Fr. Grembla's tenure has been marked by increased lay participation in parish leadership and greater identity as a parish family. Lay participation in the church, which formally began with liturgical planners and Eucharistic ministers in the 1970s and 1980s, came into full form with the founding of the parish Pastoral Council in 1992. To this day, the Council serves as "a unified body of represtatives.here to listen, understand and respond to the needs and concerns of the parish and community." In 1998, the parish also created the role of full time pastoral associate, to coordinate the many activities and functions of the church. Parish identity came into a widespread public arena with the formation of the first parish newspaper, the St. Bruno Beat, in 1995. Later, that identity was formally put into words with the crafting of the parish mission statement in 1998.
Church and School Improvements
The 1990s brought about many transforming changes to both the parish school and church building of St. Bruno's. In 1993, the parish dedicated the St. Joseph's Room. a previously unused portion of the school building, as the parish's new community meeting facility. Further improvements to the school took place in 1995, the year work was completed on the parish's Noise Abatement Project. Funded by city and federal funds, this $2.5 million dollar project sound-proofed and renovated the school building, offering students and faculty an enhanced learning environment free of air traffic noise. In addition to these changes, over forty thousand dollars was spent on a new computer room for the school. St. Bruno church underwent a renovation of its own in 1998, featuring among other improvements a new vestibule (narthex) with handicap-accessible doors, re-landscaped church grounds and redecoration of the entire church interior.
Past Milestones And Future Visions
In the course of Fr. Grembla's time with the parish, many milestones have been reached both within St. Bruno's and the greater Chicago Archdiocese. 1994 witnessed both the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of the Archdiocese of Chicago, as well as the passing of Cardinal Bernardin, who frequented our parish tribute to the staff of its founding in 1994 as well, paying tribute to the staff and Felician Sisters who served the parish community for so many years. As we look into the future of twenty-first century, we thank God for His many blessings these past sebenty-five years, and pray that he will continue to bless our parish of St. Bruno as we continue to hold faast in our Catholic faith.
Date Assigned Name Date Left
September, 1925 Rev. Alexis S. Gorski, D.D. + February, 1953
March, 1953 Rev. Francis P. Modrzenski + September, 1962
September, 1962 Rev. Aloysius Przypyszny + October, 1963
December, 1963 Rev. Stanley C. Stoga + June, 1974
July, 1974 Rev. Edmund S. Szlanga + August, 1991
September, 1991 Rev. Joseph P. Grembla + July, 2002
November, 2002 Rev. Waldemar Kilian July, 2009
September, 2009 Rev. Antoni Bury