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Although Holy Rosary parish was officially established in 1904, it appears that efforts at forming a national parish were begun in 1903. On Oct. 10, 1903, The New World reported that: "Rev. Jos. Zivierchowski, Zwierzchowski J,. formerly assistant at St. Michael's Polish Church, has been appointed to the charge of all the Polish Catholics residing in North Chicago and Waukegan with instructions to erect a church and school as soon as possible." Little is known about Father Zwierzchowski or his work in North Chicago. At any rate, on July 2, 1904, The New World announced that Rev. John Jendrzejek had been appointed "to organize a new Polish parish in North Chicago." Under his leadership, a frame church was erected at the northeast corner of 14th and Victoria St. This edifice was dedicated by Auxiliary Bishop Peter J. Muldoon on Oct. 16, 1904. The national parish of Holy Rosary was located within the boundaries of the territorial parish of Holy Family, which had been organized in 1902 for English-speaking Catholics.

About 1906, Father Jendrzejek began the work of organizing St. John of God Church on the south side of Chicago. He was succeeded in North Chicago by Rev. Louis Grudzinski, a former assistant at the Polish parish of Immaculate Conception in South Chicago. Following Father Jendrzejek's death on Sept. 19, 1908, Father Grudzinski was named pastor of St. John of God Church.

It appears that Rev. August Koytek served the people of Holy Rosary Church from September 1908 until sometime in 1909. Prior to this assignment, he had cared for three Polish parishes: St. Stanislaus B. & M. in Posen, IL; Assumption, BVM Church in Chicago; and St. Mary of Gostyn Church in Downers Grove, IL (now in the Joliet diocese).

Rev. John M. Lange began his work in North Chicago in September 1909. Father Koytek later served as an assistant at the Polish parishes of St. Joseph and St. Casimir in Chicago. He died on June 8, 1946 at the age of 72.

A school was opened in Holy Rosary parish in 1905 under the direction of lay teachers. About 1908, the Felician Sisters from Chicago were placed in charge. To meet the needs of his fast-growing parish, Father Lange directed the construction of a brick school in 1910 on 14th St., just east of Holy Rosary Church. At the same time, a convent was completed at 1333 Victoria St.

In March 1912, Father Lange was appointed pastor of St. Salomea Church on the south side of Chicago, and Rev. Francis Ostrowski was named pastor of Holy Rosary Church. He came to North Chicago from Kankakee, IL, where he had been pastor of St. Stanislaus Church (now in the Joliet diocese).

Shortly before he was named irremovable rector of St. Josaphat Church in Chicago in September 1914, Father Lange directed the construction of spacious brick rectory at 910 14th St. Rev. Theodore Czastka succeeded Father Lange as pastor. Prior to his assignment in North Chicago, Father Czastka had served as pastor of St. Isidore Church in Blue Island, IL.

A history of Holy Rosary parish written in 1920 contains the information that the parish school was accredited in December 1919 by the Lake County Board of Education. Enrollment then numbered approximately 460 children in grades one through eight.

Following Father Czastka's appointment as pastor of St. Wenceslaus Church in Chicago in 1923, Rev. Julius Grzezinski was named pastor of Holy Rosary Church. He came to North Chicago from Downers Grove, IL, where he had been pastor of St. Mary of Gostyn Church (now in the Joliet diocese). A native of Posen, Poland, Father Grzezinski had been ordained on Feb. 21, 1909 after completing his course of studies at St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee, WI.

The new pastor made plans to build a permanent church for his Polish congregation. The present brick edifice, located at the northwest corner of 14th and Lincoln St., was completed in 1925.

Father Grzezinski's 43 year pastorate spanned the Depression, World War II, and the suburban "building boom" of the 1950s. Named pastor emeritus of Holy Rosary Church in March 1966, he died on July 21, 1968 at the age of 85.

Rev. Walter Zmija, former assistant at St. Turibius Church in Chicago, was appointed pastor of Holy Rosary Church in March 1966. Under his leadership, a new parish gym and hall was built in 1968. It is now known as Zmija Hall.

Following Father Zmija's appointment as pastor of St. Ladislaus Church in Chicago in March 1973, Rev. Francis E. Nikliborc was named pastor of Holy Rosary Church. He came to North Chicago in April 1973 from Sacred Heart Church at 46th and Wolcott Ave. in Chicago where he had been associate pastor since 1970. Father Nikliborc has been chaplain for the Knights of Columbus, Council 731, and he is an active member of the Human Relations Committee of the State of Illinois.

In 1978, 170 children were enrolled in Holy Rosary school under the direction of three Felician Sisters and six lay teachers. Rev. Leonard Korosacki is associate pastor.

Active parish organizations include the Parent-Teacher Club, Parents' Association, Senior Citizens Club, Holy Name Society, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Society, Rosary Ladies Sodality, St. Elizabeth's Club, Apostleship of Prayer, Polish Roman Catholic Union # 314; Polish National Alliance, and Boy Scout Troop # 63.

The national parish of Holy Rosary embraces all the Poles of Lake County. Of the 450 families who now belong to the parish, 90% are of Polish extraction and the remaining 10% of the congregation includes families of Irish and German descent as well as blacks and Vietnamese. The 75th parish anniversary was celebrated on Oct. 7, 1979-the feast of the Holy Rosary.

From "A History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1980

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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