A Polish community also formed around St. Thecla’s Parish on the far North Side of Chicago. St. Thecla’s Church and School are located a few blocks east of the intersection of Northwest Highway and Devon Avenue in Norwood Park, Community Area #10 on a map of Chicago.
In addition to the original Polish community in the northwestern part of the city, other Polish communities formed. On the Near West Side, Polish families joined the Czech parish of St. Wenceslaus in Avondale.
A second Polish community formed in Avondale around St. Hyacinth Parish. Resurrectionists from St. Stanislaus Kostka founded this parish and continue to staff it.
This church is a prime example of Chicago’s “Polish Cathedrals,” grandiose parish churches Polish congregations built in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. In 2003, Pope John Paul II gave St. Hyacinth Church the status of minor basilica, hence its new name of St. Hyacinth Basilica.
Masses are said here in Polish and English. St. Hyacinth Basilica School serves students from preschool through 8th Grade.
The two communities in Avondale combined are called Polish Village. Avondale is Community Area #21 on a map of Chicago.
Another Polish community formed just west of Ashland Avenue at 18th Street, where Poles founded St. Adalbert's Parish in 1874. This is in the Pilsen neighborhood in the Lower West Side, Community Area #31 on a map of Chicago.
The prolific church architect Henry J. Schlacks designed St. Adalbert Church at 1650 West 17th Street and the adjoining rectory. Schlacks modeled the parish church on St. Paul’s Basilica in Rome.
It was built at a cost of $200,000. Today, Masses are said here in Polish and Spanish and a shrine for Our Lady of Guadalupe has been added.
This was the mother church for other Polish parishes on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Three other Polish communities formed around parishes sin this part of the city.
Polish families also settled in sizable numbers in neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago and southern suburbs, mostly clustered around Polish parishes. There are two such communities in Bridgeport, which is Community Area #60 on the map of Chicago, bounded on the north by the South Branch of the Chicago River and on the west by Bubbly Creek (the South Fork of the South Branch). The parishes are St. Mary of Perpetual Help and St. Barbara’s Parish.
A Polish community formed around Saints Peter & Paul Parish at 3745 South Paulina Street in McKinley Park, west of Bridgeport, Community Area #59 on the map of Chicago. This parish, opened in 1895 with help from Fr. John Radziejewski, pastor of Adalbert Parish.
The first pastor was Fr. Paul P. Rhode, a future bishop who had been assistant pastor at St. Adalbert’s. Originally, a combined church and school building stood at 36th Street and Chariton (now Justine) Street, east of Ashland Avenue.
The third pastor, Reverend Maximilian Kotecki, had organized the Polish parish of St. Stanislaus in Kankakee, Illinois (now in the Diocese of Joliet) in November of 1900. Fr. Kotecki oversaw the construction of a new rectory, church, and school at the present parish site.
In 1905, the Felician Sisters who staffed Saints Peter & Paul School acquired a house at 3726 South Paulina Street to use as a convent. Many parishioners worked in the Central Business District, which opened that same year. The first of its kind in the United States, the Central Business District was bounded by 35th Street on the north, 39th Street (later Pershing Road) on the south, Ashland Avenue on the west, and Morgan Street on the east.
Archbishop James E. Quigley laid the cornerstone on September 3, 1906 and he returned to dedicate the Romanesque style church on June 30, 1907. Auxiliary Bishop Rhode dedicated the school in 1908. When Fr. Adalbert S. Olszewski succeeded Fr. Kotecki as pastor in 1926, the parish served a congregation of 1,500 families and the school had 1,217 students.
In 2008, the Archdiocese of Chicago consolidated Saints Peter & Paul with two other parishes in McKinley Park – Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, which served an English-speaking congregation, and St. Maurice Church, which served a German congregation into Blessed Sacrament Parish. All three church buildings are still in use with English, Polish, and Spanish Masses.
Three Polish communities formed around parishes in Back of the Yards, including St. Joseph’s at 4821 South Hermitage Avenue, where today Masses are said in Spanish, English, and Polish. As the name suggests, Back of the Yards is a (residential) neighborhood south and west of the site of the former Union Stock Yards and adjacent meatpacking plants.
The neighborhood was formerly part of the town of Lake, which Chicago annexed in 1889. In the 1940s, Father Edward Plawinski helped form the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (BYNC) and Polish priests remained active in BYNC for at least thirty years.
Polish communities formed around four parishes in South Chicago, originally known as Ainsworth, Community Area #46 on the map of Chicago. These included Immaculate Conception and St. Michael’s. Many Polish men worked in steel mills in South Chicago.
Immaculate Conception was the first Polish parish in South Chicago. Before a church was built, Fr. Radziejewski, appointed pastor in 1888, said Masses in a storefront on 92nd Street.
It could not accommodate the many Polish families in the area and the parish district was subdivided three times, resulting in the creation of four Polish parishes. The other three parishes carved out of it were the aforementioned St. Michael the Archangel Parish, which formed in 1892; St. Mary Magdalene Parish formed in 1910; and St. Bronislava formed in 1928.
After a fire destroyed this building, the Poles attended Mass at a German parish (also named Saints Peter & Paul) at 91st Street and Exchange Avenue. Fr. Radziejewski sold land at 88th Street and Houston Avenue acquired in 1881 as the future site of a church and purchased land on 88th Street and Commercial Avenue.
On March 24, 1884, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate (from Houston, Texas) opened a school. In 1887, a bell tower was built alongside the original wooden church. In 1889, a brick parish hall was erected on Exchange Avenue. By 1890, Immaculate Conception had a congregation of 1,100 families.
A fire consumed the church on May 6, 1894. On November 11, 1894 the cornerstone of a new Immaculate Conception was laid and, for four years, until the church was completed, mass was held in the basement of the school. Michael A. Carr designed the new Church of the Immaculate Conception, completed in 1899.
The number of students rose from 500 to 750 children between 1896 and 1899. The school was soon overcrowded and a new school was built. By 1907, Immaculate Conception School had 1,120 students.
This church underwent restoration in 2002. Today, masses are said here exclusively in Spanish.
 This past June, Archbishop George moved Fr. Wojciech Arthur Marat down from St. Thecla’s in Norwood Park to St. Barbara’s in Bridgeport to replace Fr. Dennis Ziomek, whom he moved to a much larger suburban parish, St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Oak Lawn. As Francis explained to St. Barbara’s parishioners, the pastor at St. Catherine’s, Fr. Patrick Henry, “died suddenly.”