History

History of St. Constance School and Parish

When Woodrow Wilson was President, the United States was on the brink of entering World War I, the Mayor of Chicago was William Hale Thompson, and Al Capone was still a teenager, St. Constance Parish and Church were born.

The year was 1916. On the northwest side of Chicago a group of 90 families began to entertain thoughts of setting up a new parish to serve Catholics in the area. They met with Auxiliary Bishop Paul Rhode to make plans and received permission to organize the parish of Saint Constance in Jefferson Park.

Father Alexander Knitter was appointed pastor and took on the task of establishing the new parish. He made arrangements to purchase and renovate a Protestant church located at Lawrence and Central Avenues.

The Jefferson Park community was developing rapidly and Father Knitter realized he would soon need larger facilities for his growing parish. On November 1, 1916 ground was broken for a large combination school-church building on Strong Ave, and less than a year later Father Knitter said the first Mass in the new building. Under Father Knitter’s leadership the parish grew to over 1,000 families and he served the people of St. Constance for almost thirty years!

In 1917 Sisters of the School Sisters of Notre Dame opened the doors of Saint Constance School and welcomed 72 children.

In 1956 under the leadership of Father Sylvester Wronka, a new convent was built and in 1959 the new elementary school building opened its doors. In the midst of 50th anniversary celebrations, under direction of Father Handzel, the fifth pastor to St. Constance Church, serious planning for a new church began. Father Handzel did not live to see the completed buildings.

Under the new pastor Father Borowczyk, the building program was completed and on May 17, 1970 Cardinal Cody dedicated the new Saint Constance Church and the Handzel center. Father Borowczyk retired after 17 years of service to St. Constance Church, and in 1986 Father Thomas Rzepiela, assisted by Father Thaddeus Dzieszko took up the task of administering the parish. In 2003 Father Thaddeus Dzieszko became the 10th pastor of St. Constance Church after his predecessor Father Thomas J. Paprocki became the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago.

Saint Constance School and Church began as a small frame church and 90 original families and grew into a modern church, school and social center. In 2017 we celebrate our 100th anniversary!


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