St. Ladislaus – Our Patron Saint
King of He of Hungary; however, later on he rebelled against Ladislaus, who took him prisoner and held in the fortress of Visegrád. On the occasion of the canonization of Stephen I, Ladislaus gave Solomon his freedom, but in 1086 Solomon, with the aid of the heathen Cumans, revolted against Ladislaus a second time; the latter, however, vanquished them, and in 1089 gained another victory over the Turkish Cumans. In 1091 Ladislaus marched into Croatia, at the request of his sister, the widowed Queen Helena, and took possession of the kingdom for the crown of Hungary, where, in 1092, he founded the Bishopric of Agram (Zágráb). In the same year (1092), he also founded the Bishopric of Grosswardein (Nagy-Várad), in Hungary, which, however, some trace back to Stephen I. Ladislaus governed the religious and civil affairs of his assembly of the Imperial States at Szabolcs, that might almost be called a synod. He tried vigorously to suppress the remaining heathen customs. He was buried in the cathedral of Grosswardein. He still lives in the sagas and poems of his people as a chivalrous king. In 1192, Celestine III canonized him.
A Brief History of St. Ladislaus Catholic Church and its Elementary School
St.Ladislaus Church at Long Ave. and Henderson St. on the northwest side of Chicago was founded in 1914 as a mission of St. Wenceslaus Church, which was then located at 3435 N. Lawndale Ave. A group of Polish families requested Archbishop James E. Quigley for a parish of their own. Archbishop Quigley appointed Rev. Ferdinand C. Szieszka, pastor of St. Wenceslaus Church, as administrator of St. Ladislaus Mission. He celebrated Mass for the first time on Aug. 9, 1914 in a hall at Roscoe St. and Lockwood Ave.
In order to provide for the future needs of St. Ladislaus Church, Father Szieszka purchased the present five-acre site at a cost of $10,000. On June 15, 1915, Rev. Anthony Halgas was appointed first resident pastor of this national parish. A combination church and school building at 5325 W. Roscoe St. was dedicated on Aug. 29, 1915. The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth were invited to administer the school. They have been great examples of excellence in teaching for ninety-four years. The new structure included a church, two classrooms, and living quarters for the Sisters.
Father Halgas’ successor was Rev. Bolesiaus Nowakowski who served the people of St. Ladislaus Church until June 1923, when he was appointed pastor of St. Mary of Gostyn Church in Downers Grove, IL. Rev. Stanislaus J. Czapelski began his long tenure as pastor of St. Ladislaus Church on June 18, 1923. This Polish-born priest had grown up in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood. The new pastor took up residence above the Hupka (now Kopec) Funeral Chapel at 5259 W. Roscoe St. and began the work of building up St. Ladislaus parish, which numbered only 100 families. Under his leadership, the school was enlarged at a cost of $43,000.
In 1925, a building at 5346 W. Roscoe St. was purchased for use as a convent and in 1926; a structure at 5342 W. Roscoe St. was acquired for use as a rectory. The cost of these two buildings totaled nearly $32,000. When the people of St. Ladislaus parish celebrated the silver jubilee of the founding of the parish on Nov. 26, 1939, they had good cause to rejoice: the parish debt of $88,500 had been liquidated. Although a building fund for a new church had been started in 1939, construction was delayed by the outbreak of World War II. Finally, on Nov. 17, 1952, ground at the northwest corner of Long Ave. and Henderson St. was broken for the church. The cornerstone was laid on Apr. 12, 1953, and the imposing brick edifice was opened on June 12, 1955 for the first Mass of Rev. Brendan Wroblewski, OFM. Samuel Cardinal Stritch dedicated St. Ladislaus Church on May 26, 1957. On Oct. 20th of the same year, Father Czapelski was invested as a Domestic Prelate with the title Right Reverend Monsignor.
In order to provide more space for the school-age children of the parish, the old church quarters in the combination building were remodeled into classrooms. When the golden jubilee of St. Ladislaus parish was observed on Nov. 15, 1964, 1,500 families belonged to the parish and 450 children were enrolled in the school. Rev. Clement Jagodzinski, administrator at St. Ladislaus Church since June 3, 1964, was appointed pastor on Mar. 4, 1966. He directed the construction of three buildings which were dedicated on Sept. 1, 1968 by Auxiliary Bishop Alfred L. Abramowicz: a new school at 3330 N. Lockwood Ave a convent at 5330 W. Henderson St.; and a rectory at 5345 W. Roscoe St. Following Father Jagodzinski's death on Jan. 2, 1973, Rev. Walter J. Zmija was appointed pastor on Mar. 1, 1973.
In 1978, 518 children were enrolled in St. Ladislaus school under the direction of nine Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and 10 lay teachers. Over the years, 14 young women from this parish have entered religious orders and nine young men have been ordained priests. In 1981, Fr. William Lisowski was appointed pastor for two terms and under his term the parish celebrated its diamond jubilee with many improvements to the parish plant. Father Steve Kanonik was appointed pastor in 1993 and also served two terms. He completed the Millennium Campaign, raising much-needed funds, and began the process for the restoration of the church.
Fr. Jan Kaplan arrived at St.Ladislaus only 4 years ago, though his work in the United States began in 1998 in Chicago as an Associate Pastor at SS. Cyril and Methodius in Lemont (5 years) as well as at Transfiguration in Wauconda (2 years). Presently, he has accepted the position of Pastor at St. Ladislaus Parish. Father Jan continued the restoration project of his predecessor, having completed a new roof and tuck-pointing project, interior painting and new lighting. Plans for a new floor, refurbished pews and kneelers are still being worked on. Fr. Jan has also taken care to update the electrical and plumbing of both school buildings to meet the needs of today.
In 2009, Father Jacek joined our parish family. Father Jacek was born in Brzesko a town in southern Poland where his parents are still living. He entered the Major Seminary of the Tarnow Diocese in 1989. He graduated from the Seminary in 1995 and he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Tarnow. During the next three years he served as an Associate Pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Grybow. In 1998 he moved to Lublin to further specialized studies at the John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin until 2002. In that year he took his Doctorate there, in the field of homiletics. Soon after that in September 2002, he came to United States. He worked in St. Constance Parish in Chicago for five years and in St. Theresa Parish in Palatine for two years.
St. Ladislaus School Today
Today we have an Early Childhood program with two preschool homerooms and one kindergarten homeroom. We have 11 lay teachers, 2 lay teacher aides, all actively engaged in the ministry of Catholic education. Programs established recently includes an before or after school care, computer, art, music, health, violin and band programs, along with a seasonal sports program.
Struggling students benefit from the No Child Left Behind Federal Act which provides a Title 1 teacher for supplemental math and reading each day on a pull-out basis, along with an academic counselor and testing diagnostician to provide support to teachers who face a variety of students and their different learning abilities.
As a school that prepares students for the 21st century, through a partnership with the Big Shoulders Fund, new technology is in the hands of our students. This means each student in grades 6-8 having their own personal laptop computer, newly installed computers in the technology lab will be avaliable to all students, computer stations in every classroom, along with the installation of multiple Promethean Interactive Whiteboards. St. Ladislaus Catholic School looks toward a bright future in the Portage Park neighborhood.