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St. Joseph's Church, Joliet Illinois

1891-1916 Silver Jubilee Souvenir Book, Part 4

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.

Baptistery, Pulpit, Confession Booth, and Pictures of St. Mary, The Perpetual Help

In 1906 the church was enriched by baptistery, pulpit, two confession booths and a picture of St. Mary, The Perpetual Help. The baptistery was made out of white marble, the cover is guilded, the name of George Lopartz was inscribed. The first baby to be baptized at the new baptistery was Mary Glava. The daughter of well known parishioners and member of the church committee Mr. Glavan. The pulpit and two confession booths were made by the Chicago firm. A. H. Andrews Co. The basilica came from in Brezje, Slovenia. All expenses pertaining the picture were made by Mrs. Jennie Sustersic, the mother of the pastor. The painting was performed by one of the well known painters in Veinna, Austria, Joseph Kastner, Father Hugolin Sattner, the pastor at the Franciscan Fathers' Church in Ljubljana was a big help too. The picture is admired by everybody who comes to the church. 

All Festivities were guided by Joliet's dean Rev. Dunne, assisted by six priests, the guest speaker was Rev. J. Kranjec from South Chicago. He mentioned that the Slovenes in their native land honor Holy Mary, trust her, make pilgrimages to the churches deducated to her, the 
parishioners of Slovene descent should follow the example. After the sermon the picture was lifted and taken in the procession to the altar in the chapel. Litanies follow and with benediction the festivities came to an end.

Let me tell you how the lantern reached the church. Mrs. Ulm's daughter was very sick, bedridden for over a year, there was no hope. A dangerous operation was performed the mother made a promise, in case the daughter would get well she'll donate a lantern for the chapel. The daughter was cured and entered the Loretto Order, at the present moment she is the Mother Superior somewhere in Chicago. If anybody wants to come to learn more about her they should ask for Sister Agnes. And many more cases in which Holy Mary helped were announced. In March started a mission and lasted two weeks, it was guided by Rev. F. X. Bajec, from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Holy Sepulchre

Besides the manger our church has something what hasn't been seen anywhere, it's Holy Sepulchre, which was seen for the first time at Easter of 1906. It's in the chapel of Holy Mary. The silk ornaments in the sepulchre was donated by St. Joseph's Society, Jesus's corps is illuminated by many colorful lamps, all the time is decorated by fresh fragrant flowers. Over the tomb there are two angels, pictured with stretched arms and praying, the ceiling is a sky full of stars. 

Over the chapel there is a huge painting 26 ft. by 15 ft., it's the scene of Good Friday on Calvary, in front three crosses can be seen, the sunset, in the background Jerusalem with temple and palaces, palm trees and shrubs. The painting was done by Sosman & Landis Co. in Chicago. The Knights of St. George were honorable guardsmen. On September 4, more windows were put in on the choir, one depicts the apostles St. Peter and Paul, the other one St. Elizabeth and St. Magdalene; all windows were the work of Flanagan & Boedenweg in Chicago. In 1907 Polish parishioners built their church, their pastor was Rev. Spominski, the Croatians got their church on Broadway, it was Holy Mary's Church, their pastor was George Violic.

On the occasion of 40 hours adoration the members of St. Ann's Society donated a banner which is to be put at the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Agnes's Society donated burse, stole and the purple cover for the stand of the missal. In May the new organist George Malovrh took over. Rev. Sustersic took a longer leave, he went to Rome to honor Pope Pius X, he arrived in Rome June 30, the pastor pro tempore was Rev. A. M. Kraschowitz who stayed here as the chaplain till the last trip of Rev. Sustersic to Europe. On the day of Assumption three altars were blessed, they were constructed as composition by De Prato at the cost of $1,500. St. Ann's altar is a donation by St. Ann's Society, the altar of Sacred Heart of Jesus was donated by Girl's Mary's Society and Girl's Society of St. Agnes. The statue of Scared Heart of Jesus was a donation by Margaret Music. Mrs. Frances Zoran collected $105 for the altar of Mary, Our Perpetual Help. 

We have to mention that there are two oil paintings hanging on the wall above the side altars. On the epistle side there is a painting of Jesus Christ on the Mount of Olives, the second one depicts the Ascension. The first one was donated by Michael Kochevar, the second one by George Lopartza, each one is a value of $200, they are the masterpiece of the Polish artist T. Zukotynski. After the blessing three masses wee celebrated at the same time, the celebrants were Dean Dunne and the piests of the parish. Mgr. J. F. Buh, observed the golden anniversary of the priesthood on July 2.Our church of St. Joseph was festive decorated, from the bell tower there were hanging the Slovene tricolor flag and the American flag, in between there were numerous banners. The front entrance was draped in American colors, numerous flowers offered a pleasant fragrance. 

The path between the parish house and the church was decorated with greenery. The parish house, the school building, the printery as well as houses nearby were decorated too. At 11:15 a. m. the bells were ringing and the procession started to move towards the church, it was nice to see the school children in beautiful outfits. The jubilant was assisted by Rev. L. Kerze, Rev. Fr. Jager, Archdikon was Rev. P. Zupan, master of ceremonies Rev. J. Seliskar. The guest speaker was Bishop Jacob Trobec who spoke about the priesthood and the jubliant.

Besides Bishop Trobec, Bishop Stariha was present., but in the audience there were Mons. Plut, Shakopee, Minn., two Indian missioners from the Order of St. Benedict, Rev. Roman Homar and Rev. Ciril Zupan, among the guest there were Anton Ogulin, St. Paul, Minn., F.X. Bajec, St. Paul, Minn., Dr. Janez Seliskar, St. Paul, Minn., F. Gladek, St. Paul, Minn., Janez Gruden, St. Paul, Minn., Frank Gruden, Minneapolis, Minn., Anton Miks, St. Michael, Minn., Matt Saus, Delano, Minn., Frank Rant, Arlington, Minn., Matt Bilban, Eveleth, Minn., Anton Vilman, Watkins, Minn., Luka Klopcic, Calument, Mich., Joseph Tomsic, Froest City, Pa., Jernej Ponikvar, Cleveland, Ohio, Marko Pakiz Collinwood, Ohio, Jozef Lavric, Indianapolis, Ind., Janez Smolej, Milwaukee, Wis.John Plevnik, Waukegan, Ill., Anton Sojar, South Chicago, Janez Kranjec, South Chicago, F. S. Sustersic and A. Krachowetz, Joliet, Ill.

After the services the banquet was held in Golobic Hall. Bishop Stariha was the guest speaker, after the Msgr. Buh described his life and struggle among the Indians. At the end he said, "While looking at you everybody in the audience is younger than I. But who is younger at heart?" Next speaker was Mgr. Plut, the festivities came to a close when Fr. Sustersic thanked each and everybody for help and cooperation, he was honored that the jubilant chose St. Joseph's parish for the celebration.

The Development of the Parish after the Departure of its Founder

The history of St. Joseph's Parish is at the same time the history of its founder Rev. F. S. Sustersic. Every event is like a breath of his life, his health lingered, but he was proud to be a worker in Lord's vineyard. When he left the parish on July 5, 1910 he was succeeded temprarily by Rev. Kraschowitz. The very same year, September 4, there was another big event in the parish, newly ordained priest Joseph Stukel celebrated the mass in the church, his father Joseph Stukel is one of the pioneers of the parish. The young priest who was born in Chicago got his early education at the parish school. August 18, 1911 the parish lost a pioneer, Jacob Cerar passed away, he was 80 years old at the time of his death, he was one of the pioneers who helped to build the first church. 

As mentioned before, Rev. Kraschowitz took Rev. Sustersic's place, but at the beginning of July the Most Rev. James Edward Guigley nominated a new priest at St. Joseph's he was Rev. John Kranjec from South Chicago. Rev. Kraschowitz took over Rev. Krajec's place. Rev. Stukel who was a chaplain after his ordination at St. Joseph's went to Bradley, Ill., he was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Pollack. The month of May is always full of flowers and joy.

In May 1912 St. Joseph's Church was happy to bless the big statue of Holy Mary, a gift of Mrs. anna Nemanich, the wife of Anton Nemanich; she donated the statue in memory of her parents Mr. and Mrs. Petru. At the beginning of September Rev. Joseph Pollack went to Hibbing, Minn., he was succeeded by Rev. A. Berk. In November a new big altar was blessed in the church at St. Joseph. St. Joseph's altar was erected in memory of Rev. Sustersic who donated $1,000. The altar was blessed by local pastor assisted by many priest, the guest speaker was Rev. Anton Sojar. The first couple who was married in front of the new altar was Joseph Vlasic and his bride Maria Veselic, both came from the village of Adlesici, Slovenia, they were married by Rev. Kranjec November 27, 1912. Next year, in 1913, there was a mission from April 20-27 under the guidance of Rev. F. X. Bajec from St. Paul, Minn.The school building was getting to small, a meeting was called to order on September 14, and soon construction work started. 

The old sister's house was purchased and moved by A. Golobic, plans for the new school were made by Charles Wallace, the contractor was Henry Iatz. In the fall there was a country fair on the school ground, the parish got a car, donated by John D. Strutzel. the construction work went on fast, by May of the next year some classrooms could be used already. The school building is situated on Scott St., it's 112 ft. long and 64 ft. wide, it has 12 classrooms, each classroom 
has measurements 37 x 24 x 12, the capacity of a room-60 students. They are very well lit, the walls are made out of asbestos. The entrance is on each side of the building, there is double staircase to the first floor, on each side of the hallway there is a conference room, it's lit by electricity, there is a gas line which is not being use at the moment. 

There are special airing devices so the rooms can be aired even if the windows are closed. There are fountains in the hallways. The blackboards are green, no more black blackboards. Every student has a good view to the board so everybody can write at the same time. The building has steam heat, the chimney is 87 ft. high, there are two furnaces, but one a light gray fog is come out ot the chimney. Everything is made the way that there are no health hazzards. In the summer Matt Simmons donated outfits for 40 poor children. The school building was ready, but what about the sisters, there were 16 of them and they needed headquarters. At the meeting it was decided that the parish house should house the sisters, and a new parish house was to be build along Chicago St. close to the new church.

It was a shame to demolish the old church, built by the scarifice of pioneer settlers in Joliet. But the old structrue had to give way to the new parish house, the demolition work started in June. Plans for the new parish house were made by Charles Wallace, the contructor was Mr. Lozar from Rockdale. The construction work were finished on New Year 1915. It was not easy, Rev. Kranjec wanted to inspect the construction works, but since Rev. Berk left the parish he remained alone, Rev. Berk went to Bridgeport, Ohio. 

On his way to Joliet was Rev. Joseph Skur from Slovenia Venezzia; but WWI broke out and the ship which was bring Rev. Skur was detained. Temporary chaplain was Rev. A. Kelly, ABSCD from Chicago, he was Irish, he stayed till beginning of December. By the end of October Rev. Kranjec suffered a bad cold, since Rev. Kelly did not understand Slovene the Archbishop sent Rev. Joseph Plevnik, he as to be pastor pro tempore until Rev. Kranjec recuperated. Rev. Skur arrived on October 15, but Rev. Kranjec did not get better, he was bedridden with pneumonia and passed away February 12, 1916.

Rev. John Kranjec was born February 22, 1871 in the village of Stari Trg in Dolenjska (Lower Carniola), Slovenia, he came to the USA in 1892, was a student of Theological Seminary of St. Francis, St. Francis, Wisconsin, he was ordained July 3, 18??, after the ordination he was the chaplain at the English parish in Joliet, one year later he went to Pittsburgh, Pa. on the invitation of the bishop, a few years later he took care of the Slovenes in So. Chicago, he stayed eight years, built the church and parish house.

He was helping out in Chicago, but it was to difficult to take care of parishioners in So. Chicago and Chicago at the same time, so he stayed in Chicago at Bishop's advise, in July 1911 he became pastor of Slovene parish in Joliet. While Rev. Kranjec was sick Rev. Plevnik took care of the parish, the parishioner were Slovenes and only a Slovene priest would know their needs, only Slovene would be able to help them in need., that's why His Eminence Bishop of Chicago nominated Rev. Plevnik a pastor of St. Joseph's parish in Joliet.

Rev. Plevnik made arrangements for the funeral services for the late Rev. Kranjec, February 15 was a nice day, at 10 a.m. His Eminence Archbishop James E. Quigley, accompained by Auxiliary Bishop Rt. Rev. Paul J. Rhode arrived in Joliet, at about 10:30 services began, there were about 60 priests, among the Slovene priests the following should be mentioned F. Bajec, J. Cerne, A. J.Kastigar, A. M. Kraschowitz, J. Lavric, J. Novak, J.J. Oman, M. Pakiz, F. Podgorsek, J. Pollak, A. Sojar, J. Stukel, and F. Saloven, they were welcomed by Rev. Plevnik and Rev. Skur, the church choir sang the requiem, the requiem mass was celebrated by His Eminence the Archbishop, assisted by A. M. Kraschowitz and Rev. Stukel, Rev. Sojar and Rev. George Violic. Rev. F. Bajec spoke in Slovene, the body was blessed by Rt. Rev. Rhode. The choir following renditions under the choir director, Lord, Have Mercy, Beati mortui, Ego sum and Happy are those. 

The funeral procession was almost two miles long, all fraternal organizations sent representatives, many Slavic and non Slavic organizations were represented, many flowers and wreaths were seen, among them the wreath of the newspaper The American Slovene, the KSKJ Main Office, just to mention a few. Rev. Kranjec was buried at Joliet's cemetery close to the Cross in the center, the choir sang two more renditions in Slovene October 15, 1916 Rev. John Plaznik became the chaplain at St. Joseph's in November Rev. Skur went to Lorain, Ohio.

The very same year Rev. John M. Solnce who encouraged many young men for the priesthood and brought from his native land many young men who studied in the USA to become priests, one of them was Rev. Sustersic. Rev. John M. Solnce was born June 7, 1861 in the village of Smlednik, Upper Carniola (Gorenjska), Slovenia, in 1880 he came with Bishop Trobec to America and entered St. Francis Seminary. He was priest in many parishes of Minnesota, his last post was at St. Agnes in St. Paul, where he built a magnificent church. He died November 15, 1915. There was a requiem mass offered at St. Joseph's. Two weeks later Bishop John N. Stariha died, he was born May 12, 1845 in the village Srednja Vas in the parish of Semich, Slovenia. He got some education in Novo Mesto, in 1866 he had to join the service, and to a medal at the Battle of Custozza, a year later he went to America.

First he was a farm hand at a farm in Wisconsin, then he entered St. Francis Seminary, he was ordained September 19, 1869 by Bishop Mrak, and became vicary general in his diocese, October 28, 1902 he became bishop in Lead, So. Dakota. He resigned in 1907 amd returned to Ljubljana where he died November 28, 1915. In 1916 the church was happy to receive a new cross over the tabernacle, and a lamp on the altar of Sacred Heart of Jesus, both gifts of Marko Papic, now a brother of Jesuit Order. The children who received the first communion donated a repositories. 

August 15 was a beautiful day, Sister N. Ferdinanda observed the Silver Jubilee in the Order of St. Francis in Joliet, the paish organized a festivity, in the name of the school boys Martin Stefanci thanked her for all the teaching, in the name of the school girls Mary Kralj thanked her for religious education and all the help offered to Young Mary's and Blessed Agnes Society. Mary Zlogar, a speaker, thanked, too. Messrs Golobic and Stonich thanked for her tremendous help at the church. Mr. Zalar, the president of the singing society "Soca" mentioned her endevours for preserving Slovene songs and traditions. During the summer vacation the entire school-building was renovated, especially the commercial classrooms. In many respects the building is nicer than in the days when it was opened. St. Joseph's Society #2 KSKJ donated $300.00. 

At the Silver Jubilee of the church the founder was remembered with a plague which was insert or built in the chapel of Mary, Our Perpetual Help. 

Pray for the repose of the soul of Rev. F. S. Sustersicthe founder of St. Joseph's Parish, Joliet, Illinois

Born: January 22, 1864

The church committee for the year 1916, consists of following members, John Grahek, Anton Glavan, Joseph Erjavec, representing Rockdale, Joseph Muhic, Anton Golobic, George Stonich, Anton Nemanic, Michael Ursic and John Filak.

The entire parish is divided into 27 communities, the monthly assessment is being picked up by following members, Michael Gosak, George Malovrh (for two Communities), Steve G. Vertin, John Sustersic, Frank Music, Marc Znidarsic, Peter Music, John Butala, Frank Culik, Matthew Stukel, 
Joseph Avsec Jr., Abtob Lilek, Matthew Tezar, John Turk, John Markelc, Jacolb Zelko, Nicholaus J. Vranicar, Joseph Erjavec in Rockdale. This is a brief outline of the history of St. Joseph's Parish.

The beginnings were hard and difficult. We are happy that many who helped us to begin the parish are still among us. But to many are resting on the hill, in the cemetery of St. Joseph's.

Dear Friend, if you ever walk up the hill, read the names on the markers, say a brief prayer, it's the resting place of Slovene pioneers who sacrificed a lot that we have a beautiful church and school we are proud of. In the 25 years of existence there were 3,810 baptismals (babies and grown ups), 843 couples were married, 1312 parishioners passed away.