BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY UKRAINIAN CATOLIC CHURCH

The parish has a humble beginning, back in the year 1911. At first, it was opened and officially recognized as a MISSIONARY STATION, under the title of the NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, by the first Ukrainian Catholic Bishop residing in the United States, His Excellency the Most Reverend Bishop Soter Ortynsky, OSBM.

Ukrainian Catholics living on the south side of Chicago, not having their own church, nor a priest, or a place to worship, would get together for Sundays and Major Holy Days at the Carpathian-Ruthenian chapel, or St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church 47th Street and Damen Ave. But in 1911 Bishop Soter Ortynsky sent Fr. Michael Prodan to become the first pastor and the spiritual leader of the community, which continued to use the hall of St. Michael’s Church until 1912, when they built, a modestly small wooden hall, on 4946 South Paulina Street, which served as a church.

In 1919 a stone and permanent church was built but, as the community moved unto the new church, new problems began to arise. The cost of the church was $70,000.00 Dollars and they ran out of money before the building was completed. The pastor hoping to save the situation decided to issue church bonds, but those did not sell. Therefore they had to make a loan, liking it or not. They took a loan of $40,000.00 Dollars and, thanks to this loan in 1920 they completed the building and had the dedication the new church.

In 1935 a new priest, Fr. Onufrij Kowalsky took over the parish. He had the inside of the church painted, put linoleum on the center aisle, painted the domes and windows, but due to the great recession and post World War I effects the parish could pay the loan and declared bankrupt in 1937, having paid only $7,000.00 of the $40,000.00 loan. The church was sold to a Czeko-Slovakian businessman for $29,000.00 with the intention of turning it into a funeral home.

With these disastrous events taking place, the year 1937 had a huge impact upon the entire parish and the frightened parishioners turned for help to the Basilian Fathers, which were serving St Nicholas Parish on the North Side of Chicago. The Provincial Superior of the Basilian Fathers agreed to help with the condition that the Basilian Fathers would take over the direction of the parish as well. So the Basilian Fathers paid the businessman his due and the parish got their church back. Dedication and much work revitalized the parish, brought financial stability, all misunderstandings became past history, and the people began to contribute more generously thus making the parish trust grow. By the end of World War II the parish increased to about 400 families.

In their first years in the parish, the Basilian Fathers repaired the roof of the church, made interior renovations, repainted the iconostas and fixed the parish rectory. In 1955 under the leadership of the new pastor Fr. Innocent Rychkun, OSBM the parish built a grade school, which dedication took place on November 18, 1956.  Father Nestor Fecica, OSBM, the new pastor dealt with some financial problems, but paid off all debts. In 1971 Fr. Julian Katrij, OSBM became pastor to be succeeded by his associate Fr. Michael Stelmach, OSBM in 1977. But prior, in 1975 the Nativity BVM Grade School graduated the last group and the school closed its doors forever. Changes in the neighborhood and substantial decline in the parish were the main reasons for the closing of the school and making plans for the parish to move out, as well.

Under the leadership, wise and careful planning of the pastor Fr. Abraham Miller, in 1993 the parish moved to this new location in Palos Park, build a new church, rectory and social hall. At present, the only students we have are the Sunday Catechism Classes. Now we have about 129 registered families and growing…

CENTENNIAL JUBILIE was celebrated in 2011.
Fr. Varcilio Basil Salkovski, OSBM –  Pastor