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St. Joseph's Church, Joliet Illinois

1891-1916 Silver Jubilee Souvenir Book, Part 5

Copyright © 1997 Slovenian Genealogy Society, all rights reseved

Note: This booklet was published early in the 20th century - about 1916 - in America and in the Slovenian language. Volunteers for the Slovenian Genealogy Society International completed this translation (including the ads) in 1997.

There are other Slovenian books with important genealogy information in them awaiting translation. The SGS requests assistance from interested persons that are bi-lingual in Slovenian and English to help further our efforts to share the Slovenian-American heritage with our members and other Slovene record searchers on the world wide web. If you think can help, please write to SGS President Al Peterlin at 52 Old Farm Road, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011-2604.

Chapter Two - Our Parish School

The parochial school was founded in 1895. It's almost impossible to mentioin all difficulties at the construction works, and difficulties in obtaining the equipment for the school. There were occasionally funny situations, since boys and girls were coming to school which was not even completely cleaned, even before we had a blackboard or seats. They were eager to get a Christian education, they would seat on the floor, there were 96 school children, 56 boys and 40 girls. The upper classes were taught by Sister Ferdinanda the lower were educated by Sister Emerencia who was Polish, but in three years she spent in our community she learned Slovene. In few weeks the school got some equipment, benches and chairs, the classrooms were saituated in the lower floor, since the upper floor was not built yet. As soon as the work was rather normal, the diphtheria epidemic broke out, and the school was closed for two months.

As soon as the school was opened again, the children strarted to study for a school play which was performed at the celebration of the newly ordained priest, A. Savs. But soon after this event, Rev. Savs had to take over a Polish parish. By the end of first school year 9 school children, seven boys and two girls received the first communion. Both Sisters were teaching three years, in the second school year the number of school children increased by 38, there were 134 students. By the end of the second school year there was another festivity in our church, J. Plevnik celebrated the new mass, third school year started under the supervision of Rev. Plevnik, in October a church fair was organized, it was very successful, soon after that Rev. Sustersic returned and took over the duties. 

The number of students was increased by 18, both sisters were busy, especially Sister Emerencia who had to take care for 98 students. Another duty was cleaning the church, as well as the school. So far, Sisters had no lodgings at the school, they had to walk from the convent. In summer Sisters dining room was a little cottage, in winter a classroom had to be vacated. The fourth year of existence was a happy one, new parish house was built, and Sisters moved into the old parish house, the number of students increased for 34, a new classroom was necessary. Sister Emerencia was teaching at a Polish school, Sister Petronilla, a Slovak, and 
Sister Valentina, a Greek, came to teach the students. 

Both Sisters spoke Slovene, it was no more necessary to get help from Slovene Sister who had to be an interpreter in need. The school play was put on stage in winter, on the name day of the pastor, and not by the end of the school year. From that moment on the school party was usually in the month of January. the above mentioned Sisters worked at the school for two years. The following year there were 13 more students, the school facilities were to small to be able to 
enroll more students. From the beginning of the year 1900 till September of the same year Mother Superior was Sister Ferdinanda. But by the beginning of next school year Sister Aurelia became Mother Superior, Sister Petronella was transferred. There were 265 students. A year later Sister Petronella came back. The eights school year marked 277 students, they set a limit for the first grade, 100 students, Sister Valentine stayed with students the entire school year. But next year (9th year) Sister Petronella had to leave us again, Sister Prisca took over teaching of the first grade. There were 100 students in that grade, there were 204 school children. A year later Sister M. Cassiani took over teaching of the first grade, the number of students was greater than ever, there were 121, Sister Linus was transferred, she spent four years as Mother Superior. The number of students-218.On the 11th year of school existence there were some changes, new church was being built, the front of the old church was rebuilt, and the school obtained two rooms, Sister M. Constance was Mother Superior.

Sister Priscilla was teaching, but the first grade had only 62 students, the number of students was now 357. A year later a new Mother Superior arrived, Sister M. John, she stayed in Joliet for six years. Four new Sisters arrived, Sister M. Dolorosa, Sister M. Agatha, Sister M. Mavra, Sister Petronella came for the third time to Joliet, the number of students-378.

In 1907 three more Sisters arrived, Sister M. Norberta, Sister M. Perpetua, and sister M. Secunda-number of students-380. 1908 Sister Petronella was transferred again, she was replaced by Sister M. Aniceta-number of students-401. In 1908 the number of students for the first grade was limited to 108, for the rest of grades-93. But in two weeks it became evident that it's impossible to teach such a number of students in the first and the second grade. 

Three weeks after the beginning of the new school year Sister Perpetua became seriously ill, she was transferred to the convent, she was rather weak the year before, Sister Flora replaced her. In four weeks Sister Perpetua became strong enough to take over the teaching of the first grade, but instead of 108 students there were only 77, in the old church one room became vacant and was used as a classroom. But upper grades were crowded, Sister Norberta had a difficult task, she had to teach the 6th, the 7th and the 8th grade, by the end of the school year 11 students graduated 5 boys and 6 girls, it was the first generation which finished the 8th grade, it was the last school year under the sponsorship of Rev. Sustersic.

Words can't describe the pleasure he felt looking at the first graduate sutdents. But there was a certain sadness since he was about to leave. When the school children spoke to him next day asking to have a photo taken with them, he explained that he wasn't feeling good and he was looking bad. But he promised them to give some photos of himself they were taken some time ago, at the same time he promised to take a photo with them after his return to Joliet. He added: Pray for my safe return.

In 1909 there were 480 students. We have to mention that the late Rev. Sustersic had some improvements made at Sister's house, three years before two of the Sisters had to walk to the convent daily. At the beginning of the school year in 1910 three more Sisters came, Sister Eugenia, Sister Walburga who replaced Sister Norberta, and Sister M. Gregory, there were 448 students, Rev. Sustersic was replaced by Rev. Kraschowitz who left in 1911, and so did Rev. Stukel, but new priests came, Rev.John Kranjc and Jospeh Pollak, but Sisters Walburga and Sister Gregory were transferred, Sisters Cephas and Hilaria came to replace them, there were 446 students.

In 1912 Sister Eugenia became Mother Superior, and Sisters Maurilla and Olga came to teach. At the beginning of the school year there were seven class rooms, in the first grade there were 130 students, in the second one 97.

Some children had to share the seats, some of them had to seat on the floor. Rev. Kranjc was very sad, yet he did not know where to look for help. He was afraid to enter the classrooms since he felt sorry for the children. In a few weeks there transferred some benches from the old church in the sacristy, and for three weeks one of the Sisters was educating about fifty students there. Meanwhile Rev. Kranjc rented a room in Zelko's house on Scott St. and the class moved there; This room served as a classroom for two years, there were 501 students. 

But at the beginning of next school year the situation was not better, since the number of students increased by 72. Two classrooms were arranged in the hall of the old church, and Sisters Agatha and Secunda were teaching there, in 1913 there were 573 students. The pastor called a meeting to order and explained that the new school building is a must, everybody agreed with him. Sister's house was sold and moved, the construction works were progressing, in May the classroom could move from Zelko's house into the new building. 

At the end of the school year 11 students graduated from eighth grade, 7 boys and 4 girls. Everybody was eagerly awaiting the beginning of the new school year, everybody was hoping that new classrooms would be airy and light, but in some classrooms there were not enough seats, there were enough seats for nine classrooms, but in the new building there were twelve classrooms. The same year a business course started, some nine students were enrolled, the same Sister who taught eight students in the eighth grade was taking care of the business course.

It was Sister Gervasia, in 1915 Sister Celestia took over and was proud of 6 graduates. Their names were Anthony Stefanich, Frances Butala, Josephine Setina, Anna Legan, Mary Stonich, and Amalia Klepec, they learned a lot and they were proud of the achievements. ; Page 62 (of the book) Number of Students of St. Joseph's Parish from 1895-1916

Sestra-Sister; Deckov-Boys; Deklic-Girls; soba-room; sestra; sistervesh-total; prednica; Mother Superior; uciteljica slovenscine; teacher of Slovene

Students of the parish school of St. Joseph who were enrolled in September 1916; 367 boys, 318 girls-total 685

Commercial (business) class: Sister M. Celesta; 7 boys, 2 girls; in 1916-274 boys, 320 girls- total 694; Teacher of Slovene-Sister M. Perpetua; Music teacher-Sister M. Beatric; Sister Wenceslaus and Sister Urban were cooks; it was the largest parochial school in town. Librarian for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade was student Frances Horvat, aids were John Flajnik, Al Korevec, Wm. Papel; librarian (boy) for the 5th and 6th grade was Joseph Stanfel, aids were Ed Konte. Catherine Fir and Gertrude Brunskol Religious Education.

Mondays and Wednesdays in the room 1-6, Tuesdays and Thursdays in the room 7-12. Mother Superior was Sister Eugenia. 

Education in Parochial School of St. Joseph

Many a time a question why do the Catholics sacrifice so much for the schools and education arose, since there are so many public schools. But the difference is great, the students are not only educated they are raised in Catholic faith. One can be wealthy, but the soul suffer. 
Not far from the city there is the state penitentary with 1800 inmates in purple outfits. Those who are faithful to God are faithful to the family, the nation, the state. The students of the parochial school has to obey the rules compiled by Rev. Sustersic. 

The rules are as follows:

1. Every student has to be at least 15 minutes before the mass in the classroom, in the afternoon he or she has to be in at the ringing of the bell.

2. Those who come earlier should sit on their seats, study, yelling and running around is not allowed.

3. The students are obliged to attend classess regularly, if the parents want to keep their child at home, they have to ask for permission on day ahead. 

4. Students who had to stay at home due to sickness, have to excuse themselves at the return.

5. Without a valid excuse no one should miss the classes. 

6. If somebody stays away from classes without knowledge of the parents or the teacher, has to contact the pastor in order to be readmitted in the school.

7. Students should behave on the way to school and on the way home, misconduct can't be tolerated.

8. In case of misbehavior there is a duty of those who witness such a conduct to report to the school authorities.

9. It's a duty of the students to do the homeworkl and learn the lessons.

10. Every student should come to school in clean clothes, school supplies should be in order, too.

11. The students who do not go home for their lunches are not allowed to go to town without special permit.

12. If anybody causes any damage at school has to repay it.

13. Exchanging of the book, lending of books or supplies will not be tolerated.

14. On Sundays and holidays it's the duty of the students to attend the mass, in the afternoon they should attend religious instructions.

15. It's the duty of the parents to assist the teachers, and to pay the monthly fees.

The mass in winter on weekdays is at eight, from May on at 7:30, after the mass there are classes till 11:30, the afternoon classes start at 1 p.m. and are over at 3:30. On Sundays there is the mass at 9:00 a.m., religious education at 2:00 p.m., litanies and benediction at 2:30 p.m., once a month. 

All students receive holy communion, rooms 12, 11, and 4-first Sunday, 6,5,2-fourth Sunday of the month, at certain times the entire school would receive holy communion. At the beginning of each month students get school report about the progress in learning, reports about behavior, religious education, absenteeism in school and church; the reports are to be signed by parents and returned together with the fees.

The most important part of the education is no doubt religious education, in the first grade a student will learn simple prayers, creation of the world and sin of the first parents, they learn about Holy Trinity, they are taught confession prayers, and when they know what is necessary to receive the first communion, they can get the first communion. They learn Ten Commandments and Five Christian rules, next year the eduaction goes farther, according to the age and abilities of a child.

Some people think that it's enough to send a child to a Catholic school in later years, but who can start building a house at the roof, it has to have a solid foundation. While finishing the second grade, it's the fourth room they get Sustersic's Catechisms which has been approved as teaching material by Archbishop of Chicago Most Rev. George W. Mundelein, besides the just mentioned book they get a brief edition of the Holy Bible, compiled by John Skuhala, the Catechisms used all years, little Bible till fifth grade, in the fifth grade, it's number 9, they get a bigger edition.

Every lesson a paragraph of religious education will be explained and should be memorized as a homework. Every Sunday afternoon there is a brief review, the meaning of holidays will be explained. At the same time students are taught how to go to a confession in English in case they move to a place without Slovene priest, in the business class religion is taught at hight school level. They can go to confession where ever they want, but nobody can take the first communion without an examination by the priest who is conducting religious instructions. Only those who are approved by the pastor can go to the first communion.

Next to religion Slovene language is very important, the students use the very same school books which are in use in the native land, Slovenia, besides language students are taught Slovene songs, religious and folk songs, Slovene music, the organist is helping the sisters. The rest of the subjects are taught in English, and the same book as in public schools are used Palmers writing is being used they are taught arithmetic, English is taught from grade 1-8, teaching 
of Geography startes in the 3rd grade, they come to learn the History of USA, in upper grade the students come to learn Catholic literature; twice a week students can get piano or organ lessons, they get lessons in art. In business course they are taught commercial arithmetic, business spelling, bookkeeping, shorthand, business English, commercial law and typewriting. The students donated some funds for a church window (300), surplus from fair-$200 party-$864.70; fresh flowers at the Holy Sepulchre-$4442.47-total $2,607.17