A second Polish community in South Chicago built St. Michael the Archangel Parish. William J. Brinkmann designed St. Michael the Archangel Church, which can accommodate up to 2,000 people, in the Gothic Revival style. The altar rail is oak with a marble top.
The church includes a shrine for the Black Madonna of Częstochowa made in Poland in the 1960s. F. X. Zettler of Munich, Germany made the stained glass windows.
Auxiliary Bishop Rhode served as pastor from 1897 to 1915, when he left to become Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin. A Polish congregation built St. Michael the Archangel Church, but today parishioners include Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans, Nigerians, and Asian-Americans. St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School, located at 8231 South Shore Drive, serves children in preschool through 8th Grade.
Polish communities in South Chicago also built St. Mary Magdalene, located at 8426 South Marquette Avenue, where Masses are now said in English and Spanish, and St. Bronislava, located at 8708 South Colfax Avenue, where Masses are also said in English and Spanish.
A Polish community in the Kensington neighborhood of the West Pullman Community Area built St. Salomea Church, another “Polish cathedral.” George M. Pullman (1831-1897) founded Pullman as a company town. Chicago annexed Pullman in 1889. Today, the Pullman Community Area, which is Community Area #50 on the map of Chicago’s seventy seven community areas, is much larger than the historic Town of Pullman, and West Pullman is Community Area #53.
G.M. Pullman intended the Town of Pullman as a model town for employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company, and it had many amenities, but he exerted power over his employee-tenants a tyrant would envy, as he owned the property, controlled the services, and prohibited anything he disliked. Further, during the Depression of 1893-1896, Pullman reduced wages below the point where one of his workers could support a family and refused to reduce the rents he charged his employee-tenants.
In the 1880s, Polish Catholics factory workers in the Town of Pullman attended Mass at the Irish parish of Holy Rosary at 113th and South Park Avenue (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive). After the St. Stanislaus Kostka Society formed in 1889, Polish residents of the neighborhood met regularly to discuss problems and make plans to build a Polish church.
In April of 1900, Rev. Casimir I. Gronkowski, a former assistant at St. Josaphat Church, was appointed the first resident pastor of St. Salomea Parish, and took up residence in the rectory of St. Nicholas Parish at 113th Street and State Street. [St. Nicholas was a German ethnic parish, founded in 1890, at 113th Place and State Street, in Roseland.] He later lived in a house on 116th Street until a rectory was built at 11816 South Indiana Avenue.
The first church of St. Salomea Parish was dedicated on November 18, 1900. In 1902, Fr. Gronkowski supervised the construction of a frame school building with an auditorium on the second floor. The next year, the school, which had one lay teacher and fifty-six students.
In 1904, Fr. Gronkowski was appointed pastor of St. Adalbert Church. His successor, Rev. Francis Jagielski, came to Kensington from Joliet, where he had been pastor of Holy Cross Church (now in the Diocese of Joliet). By 1906, 120 children were enrolled in the St. Salomea School, which was staffed by three Polish Sisters of St. Joseph.
Under Fr. Jagielski's leadership, construction began on a new church at the southwest corner of 118th Street and Indiana Avenue, though he was transferred to another parish before the church was completed. In March of 1912, Rev. John M. Lange became pastor and dedicated the Gothic Revival church on May 30, 1913.
At the time, St. Salomea Parish had 500 families and 500 single persons. After the church’s completion, an addition was built onto the school.
Shortly after Fr. Lange was appointed pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Church in South Chicago in September of 1915, Rev. Joseph S. Pajkowski became pastor of St. Salomea Parish. He had organized the Polish parish of St. Francis of Assisi in 1909.
By 1925, 518 students were enrolled in the school. Fr. Pajkowski died on October 15, 1933 at the age of fifty-four and was succeeded by Rev. Stanislaus Chyla, who came to Kensington from Joliet, where he had organized St. Thaddeus Church in 1927.
Rev. Henry Jagodzinski, former pastor of Saints Cyril and Methodius Church in Lemont, Illinois, began to work at St. Salomea Parish in July of 1942. Under his leadership, the congregation was able to pay off a $50,000 parish debt within a year of his appointment and build a war memorial erected in front of St. Salomea Church.
The outbreak of World War II put a halt to plans to construct a new school. During the war, parishioners sent 5,000 tons of clothing and $20,000 to aid families in Poland. Fr. Jagodzinski also organized the effort to erect a memorial to the war dead in front of the church.
Just after World War II, the congregation of St. Salomea Parish peaked with 1,200 families. In December 1948, Fr. Jagodzinski was named pastor of St. John of God Church at 52nd Street and Throop Street. His successor, Rev. Paul Sobota, came to Kensington from Harvey, Illinois, where he had been pastor of St. Susanna Church.
Fr. Sobota directed the construction of a $350,000 school at 11816 South Indiana Avenue in 1949. To free up space for the new school, the rectory moved from the west side of Indiana Avenue to the east side. A new convent was built on 118th Place at a cost of $245,000, and Rev. Edward Mackowiak, an assistant pastor at St. Salomea Parish, celebrated Mass in the convent chapel for the first time on October 26, 1960.
There were 400 children in the school. As a result of an influx of Black residents and White flight, the number of Catholics living in the Kensington, Pullman, and Roseland neighborhoods declined in the 1960s.
On February 23, 1973, four ethnic parishes in close proximity to St. Salomea Church were re-established as the territorial parish of All Saints at 108th Street and State Street. The consolidated parishes were All Saints, a Lithuanian ethnic parish, founded in 1906, at 10809 South State Street, in Roseland; Holy Rosary, a Slovak ethnic parish, founded in 1907, at 108th Street and Perry, in Roseland; St. Louis de France, a French ethnic parish, founded as St. Ambrose in 1886, at 117th Street and State Street, in Kensington; and St. Nicholas.
By 1980, St. Salomea Parish served 350 Polish families most of whom lived in the south and southwest suburbs and returned to St. Salomea Church for Mass on Sundays. All but twenty-six of the 196 children in the parish school were Black. The faculty was comprised of two Sisters of St. Joseph and six laymen.
In 1989, All Saints Church also closed. The records of these closed parishes are now in the Archdiocese of Chicago's Joseph Cardinal Bernadin Archives & Records Center.
In 1990, Salem Baptist Church of Chicago purchased the church, school, rectory, and convent at 11800 South Indiana Avenue, the intersection of 118th Street and Indiana Avenue. The founding pastor, Rev. James Meeks, spent three terms in the Illinois State Senate.
The mega-church has over 15,000 members, and is the largest Black congregation in the state.
In 2005, Salem Baptist built the House of Hope Worship Center, located at 752 East 114th Street at a cost of $50,000,000. It can seat 10,000 people.
The Stanley Cup will be on display in The Field Museum on Saturday, October 12, 2013. There will not be any extra charge to see the Stanley Cup, but one will have to pay the general admission fee to see the Stanley Cup.