A HISTORY OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST CATHOLIC PARISH

Father Kostik Passes
On Sunday, August 9th, 1970, Father John Kostik died at St. Catherine’s hospital. He was stricken early in the evening in the rectory garden where he had gone to recite his beads. He was 75 years old. His last years were spent at St. John’s serving in auxiliary roles until his retirement in August of 1969 as pastor emeritus. Father Kostik’s Mass of Resurrection was concelebrated by many priests, chiefly including Bishop Grutka.

The close of 1971 ushered in St. John the Baptist Parish’s Diamond Jubilee. January 1st’s Paranews proudly announced “You’ll be hearing Jubilee Year throughout this year of 1972….St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Whiting is 75 years old.” And the Paranews was correct, the entire year of 1972 was filled with Jubilee activity.

SJBHistory_recipe_25Early in the year, but indirectly related to the Jubilee, was the blessing of the Knights of Columbus Hall by Bishop Grutka on January 15th. Many other events followed, including Jubilee dinners, a Birthday Party, Parish (Founders) Day, a large Holy Week and Easter celebration, Marian Theatre Guild presentations and a large Parish picnic.

Every event of the Jubilee year contained much activity and was attended by many parishioners. The afternoon Parish Day dinner was especially large. Hosted in the Panel Room, the April 23rd Chicken Dinner was referred to by the Paranews as “huge and hearty”, serving 1,300 pounds of chicken to over 1,200 guests by 58 employees.

Just reading about the Chicken Dinner, you can almost taste the home cooking served up by the wonderful women who have worked as cooks in our Panel Room and Cafeteria over the years. Got a hankerin’ right about now for some good old Slovak fare? Did you know you can purchase a copy of the Favorite Recipes of the St. John’s Rosary Society Cookbook at the Rectory? It’s $10.00 if you pick it up there and only $13.50 by mail!

SJBHistory_puplava75_26Tom Puplava becomes principal of St. John School in 1973. It was an historic event in that Tom was the first lay principal of the school, which had been administered for years chiefly by the Sisters of Providence. Shortly after he assumed that role, the school celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1975. The festivities were capped by a rousing eighth grade play featuring old home movies of the school under construction.

The photo of Mr. Puplava at right appeared in the 1974-75 school yearbook.

Sadly in August of 1978, Pope Paul VI died, setting a chain of events in motion that would profoundly affect the Catholic church for nearly the next thirty years. On August 26th, Pope Paul was succeeded by John Paul I who lived only one month, dying September 28th. John Paul I was succeeded by John Paul II on October 16th, 1978. John Paul II, the first Slavic (Polish) Pope, turned out to be one of the most loved and influential popes of the 20th century.

SJBHistory_johnpaul1979_27John Paul II made a landmark visit to Chicago in October of 1979. It was an important event, as the city of Chicago has the largest population of Polish people outside of Poland. In addition, the entire Chicagoland area is settled by both Poles and many Slavs of other ethnic descent.

The Pope’s mass at Grant Park was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. St. John the Baptist sent a large contingent of parishioners to the mass by bus, dropping them off more than a mile away from the Grant Park celebration.

The Chicago Archdiocese archive photo at left was taken in Grant Park during Pope John Paul II’s historic 1979 Chicago visit.