St. Richard Parish History
On the 8th of June 1928, His eminence George Cardinal Mundelein established St. Richard Parish. The Parish was named after St. Richard de Wyche, bishop of Chichester, England.
Reverend Horace Wellman was appointed the first pastor and in late June 1928, he celebrated his first mass. The first mass was given in a storefront on 51st Street that also served as a temporary home for the church. A census was taken over the following months to determine how many families would support a newly established church. Results from the census comprised of many different ethnic backgrounds for a total 110 families.
Property for St. Richard Parish was purchased at the intersections of Kostner Avenue, 50th Street, and Kenneth Avenue. Within a month the new church was ready and on September 2, 1928 the first mass was presented. The official blessing of St. Richard Church took place October 21st, with Rt. Rev. Msgr. D.J. Dunner D.D. officiating. Father Wellman served his people well until he unfortunately passed away from a heart attack in 1931. The second pastor appointed to St. Richard Parish was Father Francis J. Quinn who officially took over on October 17, 1931. Under the direction of Father Quinn the Parish grew steadily in number, while also recovering from the Great Depression. In April 1944, Father Quinn left St. Richard to assume the pastorate of St. Ambrose Church and was succeeded by Father Joseph Griffin. Father Griffin had to resign because of poor health, after serving as pastor for six months.
On November 10, 1944, Reverend Edward L. Kilroy was appointed pastor of St. Richard Church and helped continue the growth of the Parish. Under his direction and guidance, a new brick building combining both church and school was erected. It was Father Kilroy who asked the Dominican Sisters from Sinsinawa, Wisconsin to teach in the school, which opened in September of 1947. Father Kilroy recognized the need for expansion and so in 1959, a new church was erected on the southwest corner of West 50th Street and South Kostner.
In March 1966, Father Kilroy was given the honorary title of Pastor Emeritus and retired from his pastoral duties. Father William Fisher was assigned to succeed Father Kilroy as pastor of St. Richard Parish. Father Fisher and the people of St. Richard combined their efforts and talents to organize what has become known as the ‘‘annual county fair,’’ more commonly known as a carnival.
Since 1972, the annual county fair has become a staple within the community. Father Fisher retired from St. Richard Parish in 1981 as Pastor Emeritus and was succeeded by Reverend Jerome Siwek. Under Father Siwek the church was remodeled and lay minister programs were developed. Father Siwek became Pastor Emeritus on June 13, 1999.
Reverend Thomas Bernas followed Father Siwek and was installed as Pastor of St. Richard Church in June 1999. Upon his arrival he completed many projects that were planned as part of the ‘‘Into the 21st Century’’ campaign. Father Bernas sought to expand the vision of St. Richard Parish and presided over the continued growth in its ministries and programs. Today, Father Krzysztof (Kris) Janczak is the Pastor and continues to uphold St. Richard’s excellent reputation, and service to the community.
Source: Hon. William O. Lipinski of Illinois in the House of Representatives Congressional Record-Extensions of Remarks June 4, 2003