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St. Joseph's Church, Joliet Illinois

1891-1916 Silver Jubilee Souvenir Book, Part 3

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.

The Tenth Anniversary of St. Joseph's Parish

Rev. Sustersic invited Rt. Rev. J. Trobec to join the parishioners in celebrating the tenth anniversary of St. Joseph's Parish, June 30, 1901 his Eminence, Bishop from St. Cloud celebrated the mass, the guest speaker was Rev. Fr. X. Bajec. School children were singing under the guidance of organist Grcar, quartet rendered four songs, Barnby; Veni Creator, rossini, Ave Verum and Owen's Ave Maria. In the afternoon the representatives of different societies came to the school hall, the grand marshall was M. Wardian. They lined up between the church and the school, at 3 p.m. those who were to be confirmed marched to the church, leading by the sisters, followed by the priest. The godfather was John Grahek the godmother Mary Kukar, Steve Kukar's wife. After the confirmations the banners of St. Alloysius Men's Society and the Girl's St. Mary's Society were blessed, they were blessed by Ret. Rev. Trobec, the godfathers were Matthias Nemanic, Joseph Banian, Luke Benedik, the godmothers were Anna Grayhek, Mary Grayhek, Mary Golobic. 

Monday June 1, 1901 a mass for all benefactors of the parish was celebrated, at 9 a.m. his Eminence, the Bishop opened hand craft exhibition at school, all classrooms were nicely decorated, on the walls there were works in calligraphy, drawings, painting, arithmetic, this school was considered the best one in town. At 8 p.m. school children bade farewell to the bishop, there were speeches and singing.

Catholic Foresters

Tuesday evening Catholic women had a meeting in order to found the Society of Catholic Foresters to honor the tenth anniversary of the parish. Representatives of German And Irish societies of Foresters were invited, meeting was under the chairmanship of Chicago Foresters, El. Rodgers. At the same time St. Ann's Society was founded, the following committees was elected. Anna Jerman senior forester, Mary Buh vice forester, Anna Klobucar secretary and recording secretary, Mary Grayek secretary-treasurer, Mary Kosak treasurer; committee Catharine Jurjevcic, Catharine Papez and Mary Petrovcic; Barbara Skof first marshall, Mary Skrinar sergeant-of-arms (inside), Anna Prse outside sergeant-of-arms.


Wednesday, July 3, there was a concert in the opera hall, it was opened by men's chorus who sang Danilo Fajgl's Faternity, mixed chorus sang Victor Parma's Little Boat, school children sang D. Shaw's Columbia.In Ipavec's Homeland Mr. Grcar was featured soloist, baritone, Mr. and Mrs. Zager and Miss Maher sang Through The Coming Night. After a short intermission Mayor Richard Barr addressed the Slovenes, Rev. F. X. Bajec gave a short history of the Slovene, their relations to other Slavic nations, at the end of his speech he mentioned the Independence Day. 

After speeches the chorus sang Hajdrich's Adriatic Sea, praising the Slovic Sea, soloists were Messrs. Horwat, Sitar, Grcar, Legan, Zelnikar who did everything that the composition was effectful. Then again school children were heard, they sang Zerovnik's Cuckoo, they were really cute in their colorful dresses and outfits, the audience welcomed their renditions, it was the nicest song in the program. Quartet sang Sattner To The Mountains, followed by some traditonal songs, at the end the entire audience sang S. F. Smith's America.


The Mayor R. J. Barr mentioned that the parade was the nicest one in the entire history of Joliet. On Thursday the representatives of the fraternal orgainzation came from Chicago, LaSalle and South Chicago. At 8 p.m. Rev. Plevnik was celebrating the mass, at that time he was priest in Chicago. At the beginning of the parade there were bicycles which were decorated, policemen, firemen, bands, men's societies from Joliet as well as guests lady's societies from Joliet, riding in a horse driven coach, priests in coaches, Croatian Fraternal Society from Joliet (Zrinski-Fankopan) Band, St. Francis Salesius Society, Slovak Society, St. Joseph from Joliet, Slovak Society (Epiphany), Slovak Society of St. John The Baptist from Joliet. The parade was moving from St. Joseph's Church to Cass Street, crossed Ottava Street, Jefferson, Chicago, Cass, Collins to the city park, grand marshall was Mr. Wardian.


Just before 11 a.m. the parade reached Riverview Park where refreshments were ready to be served. Women and children came to the park by street cars. There were bicycle races, younger generation was busy at the dance floor, dancing polkas, waltzes, many were at the bowling alleys and balina courts. At 1 p.m. bicycle racing sponsored by the bicycle club Illyria started, of course, betting started too, there was yelling, encouraging the racers. The first goal was 4 mile race or four circles which was won by Joseph Strucelj, followed by John Strucelj and Mr. Delja who was the third. One hundred yard slow race followed, John Strucelj came the last, after that there was the handicap race, Joseph Strucelj was the winner again. After the bicycle races horse races followed. In the intermission the representative of Illinois Legislature, William A. Bowles greeted the Slovenes. There was amusement under the tent, Mr. Grcar and his friends sang Slovene songs, it was late when people started going home. 

Some Events After The Tenth Anniversary

In July the second school exhibition took place, Rev. Sustersic invited members of the city school board to visit the exhibition, six members came. Judge Marshall who was not to friendly towards Catholics mentioned: "It's one of the best school exhibitions I have ever seen. It seems these children can learn anything, that there are no limits in their possibilities". In 1904 there were many changes, the idea of building a new church arose and was stronger from day to day. The community was growing, Slovenes were trying hard that the new comers would join the parish and be faithful parishioners. 

The old church was too small, January 13 there was a meeting and a committee consisting of 24 members was elected. Three of them should make calculations for the new church. It was decided the new church was to be built on the corner of N. Chicago and Clay Street where the parish house was situated. May 14 the ground work started on the corner of Scott and Clay Street. The contractor Roe moved the parish house. Two newly ordained priests celebrated the masses before the old church was abandoned, they were A. M. Kraschowitz who celebrated the mass on March 27, 1904, and Rev. Anton Sojar who celebrated the mass on June 26, the later stayed in Joliet as the chaplain, from Joliet he went to Chicago in October 1905. The community can be proud that four masses were celebrated by the newly ordained priests, and the community was just 13 years old.

Blessing Of The Corner Stone

The contractor was Adam Groth who started working as soon as possible, August 21 there was the blessing of the corner stone, at 10 a.m. a mass was celebrated by J. N. Stariha from Lead, South Dakota, assisted by Rev. Fr. Jager, Rev. J. Kranjec, Dr. Seliskar, F. X. Bajec, Rev. F. S. Sustersic, Rev. A. Sojar, and A. Stan. 

The foundation of the new church, fruit of your hard work hand tremendous help of parishioners this is the living proof that the religion is not dead in our city, but the proof that the Slovenes try to improve the image, the religion and ethics. The influence of the church is going to be among us for the future generations, the two church towers are symbols of higher goals and better life. Please accept my best wishes in the name of city council, at the same time I 'd like to thank your endeavor which should be the pride of the entire community. Congratulations and good luck, Wm. C. Crolius, Mayor. 

After the blessing Rev. John Kranjec from South Chicago gave an appropriate speech in Slvoene, after that Rev. Dunne (dean) from) St. Patrick's Church spoke in English, he spoke in classic English even those who are not fluent in English could easily understand him. In his speech he mentioned how happy he was to be able to be present at the corner stone blessing and among the Slovenes. He mentioned how well he remembered the corner stone of the first church, at the time he was encouraging the Slovenes to have faith in the future. 

He mentioned that in days when the first church was erected families were young and had to work hard to survive, in the small church first Slovene children, born in Joliet wee baptized, first weddings were preformed, and the very church relatives and friends bade farewell to the beloved ones. Everything was gained by great sacrifices, 24 years there were two Catholic churches in Joliet. In 1904 there are 8 and soon more will be necessary at that time there was one parochial school. In 1904 there are 7, two academies, one orphanage, one hospital, fruit of hard work of pastors and parishioners, the co-operation is laudable. At the end he offered the blessings, it was nice to notice that so many young people took part in the festivities.

Blessing Of The New Church

October 15, 1905 will be kept in memories of all citizens and parishioners, it was a day Joliet has not experienced yet, and most probably won't experience so soon. The ideas of Rev. Sustersic who left us far too soon was realized; it's the pride of the parish, the pride of all Catholics. Grand Marshall of the festivities was Anton Nemanich, assisted Joseph Sitar and B. Culik who wee riding white horses, many guest came from other communities. At 10 a.m. His Eminence Archbishop from Chicago came by train, he was welcomed at the railroad station by pastor and his chaplain.

English newspapers, published in Joliet mentioned that the parade was one of the nicest in Joliet, there were 37 society banners and 4 bands; representatives of Slovene and Slovik societies were wearing colorful uniforms and outfits, close to the church there was a huge arch with the inscription: 'WELCOME". At bout 10:30 Bishop Quigley started with blessing ceremonies, assisted by Bishop Caroll from Helena, Montana.

Assisted by Rev. P. W. Dunne from St. Patrick's Joliet, Rev. Ogulin from St. Paul's, Rev. john Trobec from St.Stephen's in Minnesota, Rev. Ed Kelly from Chicago, Rev. C.P. Foster, Sacred Heart in Joliet, Rev. Mawiocki from Chicago, Rev. Herman, St. Cyrillius and Methodius, Joliet , Rev. W. J. McNamee, St. Mary's in Joliet, Rev. H. J. Hausse, Sublett, Illinois, Rev. Jagielski from Kensington, Rev. Kraschowitz from Chicago, and Rev. Kranjec from So. Chicago. After the blessing a pontifical mass was celebrated by Bishop Jacob Trobec, the guest speaker was Fr. J. Solnce. He mentioned how well he remembered the days 15, 16 years ago when he would come round Easter to hear confessions, he was in St. Paul then, and Slovene would humbly ask pastors in other churches to get admittance.

The main subject of the sermon was the holiness of the church which is the House of God and at the same time the gate to the heaven. The one who never had any material possession was sure happy and glad to see such a beautiful edifice, of the fruit of hard labor and love. It would be hard to find anything like this in our old country.

On the side altar the replica of the Virgin Mary, Our Perpetual Help, the original is in the famous Pilgrimage Church in Brezji, Slovenia. It was donated by the local priest with the help of Rev. Hugolin Sattner, the pastor of the Franciscan church in Ljubljana. Many of the parishioners who were happy enough to visit this famous pilgrimage place had tears in their eyes. The speech was a masterpiece of a skilled orator.

After the mass His Eminence the Bishop of Chicago congratulated the parishioners, mentioning that they could be proud of one of the nicest churches in the entire diocese. He told them to lead a Christian life and obey the 5th Commandment, at the same time they should help the pastor and the church. But last and not least the church chorus should be congratulated. The Italian pastor, living in Joliet, who is at the same time a well known musician, Rev. Joesph Tonella said, that he was not expecting anything like this, since the mass in F Major by Resewig was masterly performed, the singing, the orchesters, everything was just beautiful.

The singers the members of the chorus were working very hard under the guidance of the orgaist Mr. Anton Grizold, the conductor was Anton Schager who did an excellent job, let's mention our singers, Al Gale, Joseph Grcar, Joseph Legan, Tom Legan, John Pugelj, Pat Ragina, Joseph Sitar, John Trlep, Frank Zavrsnik, John Zlogar, Martin Zlogar, Rose Brunskole, Mary Nasembeni, Ann Nemanic, Mary Music, Lottie Pavlin, Ann Sariha, Katherine Stariha, Antonia Stukelj, Ann Tezak, Mary Tomac, Jennie Turk, Ann Zupancic, Mary Zupancic.

In the afternoon 80 boys and girls were confirmed, the godfather was Anton Nemanich, the godmother M. Schwab. The church chorus performed Ecce Cacerdos Magnis, the youngsters were confirmed by Bishop Jacob Trobec. His speech was very encouraging and well received by young as well as older parishioners. He was speaking from his heart, a Slovene among the Slovenes.

After the benediction people started to leave the church, there were about 3,000 out of town guest who took this opportunity to visit with their friends in Joliet. Slovene ladies prepared refreshments for all those who have no friends in town. Many speeches followed, most of them were praising Fr. Sustersic, the humble, but dedicated and hard working pastor. God Bless Him and all parishioners.

It was such a crowd in the church that it was impossible to see all the details. The plans were made by W. J. Brinkman in Modern Roman Style. It's 152 ft. long, 62 ft. wide, the height of the walls is 42 ft. It's built in Buff Bedford Stone, the spires are 152 ft. high, on the top there are two crosses, guilded in 16 carat gold. The facade is breathtaking. There are three entrances leading to the porch. On both sides there are staircases to the chorus. There are three galleys, on each side of the mian galley there are five steel pillars supporting the arch and iron attic construction. The floor is made out of Roman mosaic, just in front of the pews there are two stands with holy water, one was donated by George Stonich, the other one Mr. E. Wunderlich, in the center there are 188 pews, on the left side just four less, in the side galleys 108.

On each side there is one confession booth. On the walls there are Stations of the Cross. Stain glass windows are a masterpiece, 18 ft. long, 7 ft. wide. The first one represents Jesus blessing the children, a donation by Joseph Klepec, followed by Mary's Assumption, a donation by Girl's Mary Society. The third window represents Mary of Lourdes, a present of Holy Rosary Society, the fourth window, a donation of St. Francis Salesuis Society, the fifth window, a present of St. George's Society. On the left side there is the window with the picture of Holy Family, a gift of St. Joseph's Society, the St. Cyrillius and Methodius Society donated the window with the picture of the Slavic apostles; on another window one can see St. Martin, cutting this cloak, a gift of St. Martin's society, St. Ann is very popular among the Slovens, no wonder that her picture is the Theme of one of the windows, St. Anthony has been a protector of the Slovenes and it's quite obvious that his picture appeared on the window.

On the chorus there is an organ, besides it there are 125 seats, above the organ there is a round window with the picture of St. Cecillia, a gift of the little nightingales, our school children. The light and sunshine are penetrating through this window, it's breathtaking scene. On the left side there is a chapel, resembling a grotto, this is the chapel of Mary, Our Perpetual Help. In Presbiterium there are three altars, Heart of Jesus, St. Ann with statues of St. Genevieve and Mary, Queen of Rosary. There is an eternal light in front of the altar, symbol of the Light of the World, a gift of Messrs. John Grahek and Michael Kocevar. Jacob Pleses donated a gong. In front of the communion desk there is a door to the sacristy, another one to the street. In fact there are two sacristies in the church, one on each side of the presbiterium, connected by a hallway behind the church.

The other one is for the altar boys. Many precious articles were donated, the chalice is a gift of St. Agnes Society #161 NHZ, cyborium is a gift by girl's department of St. Agnes Society, the mass book and the stand are a gift of Blase Culik who lives in Iowa, another one is a gift of John Schauer, the altar boys donated the vessels for wine and water and the guilded plate. Let me mention the iron gate to the sacristy, the switches for electric lights in the church can be found here, gads pipes are lined up, but they are not in use, the radiators are along the walls, the boiler is in the basement.

The cost of the building is $100,000 without furnishings. The day the new church was blessed and dedicated was a day of pleasure and happiness for all parishioners. Everybody wanted to see the new church, all day long it was packed to capacity, that's why all other activities were limited to the old church. On the day the new church was dedicated Frank Videtic from Bluff Street was baptized, the last one to be baptized in the old church, the following Tuesday the first baby was baptized in the new church, it was John A. Zelko, his home was close to the church.