A History of St. John the Baptist Catholic Parish
Father Kostik Arrives
In September of 1925, Father John Kostik, C.PP.S. a Precious Blood priest came to Whiting to become permanent assistant to Father Benedict. In addition to English and German, he could speak Slovak, Hungarian and Polish. He had a charm of character and great willingness to work that was admired by Father Benedict. As he watched Fr. Kostik work, Fr. Benedict realized he could well place in the hands of the young priest the charge he had taken up 30 years before. On December 18th, 1927, Bishop John F. Noll, following the suggestion of Fr. Benedict appointed Fr. Kostik pastor of St. John’s. Fr. Benedict returned to Florida.
Noteworthy in 1926 was the presentation of ‘Mammy’s Lil Wild Rose’, a stage play. Shortly after the successful production, St. John’s Drama Club was formed in 1928 under the direction of Jim LaPert, a long time leader and inspiration of St. John’s drama community. St. John’s Drama Club evolved into the Marian Theatre Guild we know today.
After Notable plays Now Adolph in 1928 and The Noble Outcast in 1929, the Drama Club assumed an important position in the social and educational work of St. John’s. The organization was fortunate to have a group of gifted young actors and actresses at it’s disposal along with the warm interest of Mr. LaPert, who directed over 60 plays over the years. In addition, Mr. LaPert was also instrumental in helping with the staging of liturgical celebrations in the church.
Mr. James LaPert is pictured here at left.
Born in 1894 in Tovrne Nad Odave, Austria-Hungary, John Kostik came to America in 1908. He entered St. Joseph’s College in 1909 and the Seminary a number of years later. Fr. John Kostik, CPPS was ordained May 5th, 1921 and was assigned as a teacher at St. Joseph’s. Fr. Kostik was both a gifted poet and scientist. Additionally, his knowledge of foreign languages made him an attractive candidate to assist other priests of St. Joseph’s with Saturday confessions at St. John the Baptist on the weekend, which he indeed did frequently.
After two years of professorship at St. Joseph’s (1921-23), Fr. Kostik went to the University of Wisconsin to obtain a Masters Degree in Science. Before he completed the work, he was awarded a Marine Biology scholarship to Woodshole Massachusetts in 1925. Fate intervened.
Fr. Kostik was blessed with a choice ten weeks later; continue his scholarly work or accept a position as assistant under Fr. Benedict at St. John the Baptist in Whiting. Fortunately for the parish family of St. John’s, Fr. Kostik chose to come to Whiting. Watching this able young priest at work from 1925-27, Fr. Benedict realized he had found someone with whom he could well place pastoral stewardship of his beloved parish. On December 18th, 1927, at the request of Fr. Benedict, Bishop Noll appointed Fr. Kostik the second pastor of St. John the Baptist.
Under Fr. Kostik’s able leadership, the new church was constructed, even in the teeth of a withering Great Depression. His capabilities did not go unnoticed. In 1938, Fr. Kostik was appointed superior of St. Charles Seminary and Motherhouse of Fathers of the Precious Blood of the United States. He was also selected as Consultor for the Provincial Board, an important post that often took Fr. Kostik to Rome and other places abroad. His other duties growing large, Fr. Kostik turned over the pastoral reigns of St. John’s to Fr. Lefko in 1945.
From 1947 to 1962, Fr. Kostik was a pioneer missionary to South America for the Precious Blood. After years of breaking ground, figuratively and literally, Fr. Kostik retired to St. John’s as pastor emeritus. On the evening of August 9th, 1970, Fr. Kostik was rushed to St. Catherine’s Hospital after being stricken in the Rectory Garden where he had gone to recite his beads. He passed on later that evening at the age of 76.