St. Richard Parish at 5030 South Kostner Avenue, Chicago, IL 60632 US - About UsAbout Us
History As the community grew seventy-five years ago, so did the need for another Catholic parish in the southwest side of Chicago. Thus, on the 8th of June 1928, His eminence Cardinal George Mundelein established St. Richard’s parish. The parish was named after St. Richard de Wyche (1197-1253), bishop of Chichester, England, whose feast is celebrated on April the 3rd. Reverend Horace Wellman was appointed the first pastor. On Sunday, June 24, 1928, at ten o’clock, Father Wellman celebrated the first Mass in a storefront that served as a temporary church at 4342 West 51st Street. During the months of July and August, a census was taken to determine how many families would freely offer their support as members of the newly founded church. Results of the census showed that the parish was comprised of many different ethnic backgrounds for a total of one hundred-ten families. Father Wellman soon realized that the needs of the people had to be met with a permanent place of worship. Parish property was purchased which extended two hundred eighty feet on Kostner Avenue, three hundred fifty-four feet on Fiftieth Street, and three hundred ten feet on Kenneth Avenue. The genuine enthusiasm of the people was shown when the men of the parish built the new wooden church by themselves. Within the short space of one month, the men had succeeded in having the new church ready for the first Mass, which was celebrated on September 2, 1928. The official blessing of St. Richard’s Church took place on Sunday afternoon, October 21st at 3:30 p.m. with Rt. Rev. Msgr. D. J. Dunner, D.D., and Officiating. Father Wellman served his God and God’s people well. After a brief illness induced by a heart attack, he died on October 6, 1931. The second pastor appointed to St. Richard was Father Francis J. Quinn, who officially took over on October 17, 1931. Considering the financial setback caused by the Depression, the spirit of cooperation and concern on the part of the parishioners was overwhelming. There were about three hundred people attending Mass at this time. The parish continued to grow steadily in number. So much so that Father Martin Henehan was appointed assistant at St. Richard on July 12, 1933. The Carmelite Fathers and Augustinian Fathers also served as weekend assistants. Father Joseph Perry of the Augustinians served the parish as if he were “one of it own.” In April 1944, Father Quinn left St. Richard’s 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 only six months. But even in that short span of time, he became beloved by all who knew him. He died shortly after leaving St. Richard’s. Reverend Edward L Kilroy was appointed pastor of St. Richard Church on November 10, 1944. Father Kilroy arrived at St. Richard’s on November 25, 1944 and happily said Mass in his new parish on the following day. When Father Kilroy settled in as pastor, he realized that his parish was growing rapidly. Under his direction and guidance, a brick building combining church and school was erected. It was Father Kilroy who obtained the Dominican Sisters from Sinsinawa, Wisconsin to teach in the school which opened in September of 1947. These sisters were to endear themselves to the children of St. Richard. Throughout the years there have been seven principals at the school. With the completion of the new building, St. Richard stood at the beginning of a new period in its history. Through the years there have been many obstacles to overcome. The people looked upon the new school which occupied the second floor of the brick building and the new spacious church with an understandable pride. They rejoiced with Father Kilroy over this accomplishment. The building represented their labor and love that had been poured into the concrete, stone and steel. The 1950’s brought a boom in real estate. Builders were now buying out the desolate prairies that made up the majority of the land around St. Richard’s. As a result, by the late 50’s, the enrollment in the school had passed 1,000 students. Father Kilroy realized that more classroom space was needed and a conversion of the present church quarters was necessary to fulfill that need. Plans were soon developed to convert the present church space to eight classrooms, making a total of twenty-four rooms for school purposes. For nearly twenty-two years, Father Kilroy served as pastor of St. Richard. In March 1966, he was given the honorary title of Pastor Emeritus and retired from his pastoral duties. On January 1, 1970, Father Kilroy passed on to his eternal reward. Although it was known that his illness was serious and probably fatal, his death came as a shock to his fellow priests and those who knew him well. On March 9, 1966, Father William Fisher was assigned to administer to the needs of St. Richard’s parishioners as pastor. Father Fisher and the people of St. Richard have combined their efforts and many talents in organizing what has become known as the “annual county fair,” more commonly known as a carnival. Since 1972, the county fair has become the chief source of extraordinary income for the parish, to help meet the needs of the parish. Fr. Fisher retired from St. Richard Parish in 1981 as Pastor Emeritus and died on March 19th of 1985. Rev. Jerome Siwek was assigned as Pastor to St. Richard during April of 1981 and soon after took advantage of an Archdiocesan plan, which helped decrease the current debt. Carnivals also continued to be a major fundraiser. Under Fr. Jerry our church was also remodeled and lay ministers programs were developed and continue on. St. Richard Parish took advantage of the Noise Abatement Program with the City of Chicago. As a result our school was updated including soundproofing and a new heating and cooling system. During this time Fr. Siwek also served a Dean from 1990-1996. Fr. Siwek became Pastor Emeritus on June 13, 1999. Rev. Thomas Bernas was installed as Pastor of St. Richard Church on June 26, 1999 after serving as administrator for the parish for one year. Upon his arrival Fr. Tom completed many of the projects that were planned as part of the “Into the 21st Century” Campaign that was undertaken by the parish. These projects included the painting of the interior of the church, replacement of the church roof, the purchase of a new organ, the installation of a new phone system in the church, school and rectory. Fr. Tom has sought to expand the vision of St. Richard Parish. Under Fr. Tom’s leadership St. Richard Parish has continued to see a growth in ministries and programs. Organizations and groups continue to meet the many and diverse needs of the parishioners. The rich ethnic diversity of the parish is embraced and celebrated in celebrations such as the annual Simbang Gabi Celebration, the Our Lady of Czestochowa Celebration, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration, and many other celebrations. Saint Richard Parish also is most proud of the excellent educational opportunities that our school continues to provide. Because of its excellent reputation, and because of the hard work of our faculty and staff, our school continues to see an increase in enrollment. To meet the needs of our parishioners a full day 4-year-old preschool was added. Fr. Tom has also involved the parish in a variety of community groups and organizations. Saint Richard’s mission and purpose reaches out beyond the walls of our church into the community we are a part of. St. Richard Parish is an active member of the Archer Heights Civic Association and the 8th District Chicago Police Caps Program. Under Fr. Tom’s leadership the parish is now embarking on a plan for the future. As the parish looks forward and prepares for the future of our parish critical needs have surfaced that need to be addressed if we are to meet the needs of our parishioners today and in the future. The most pressing needs that were surfaced were: 1) making our Church and Parish Hall accessible to the elderly and the handicapped so that our church may be welcoming to all, 2) additional meeting rooms are needed for our expanding ministries and programs, 3) we need to provide an adequate and efficient workspace for our parish staff so that they can better serve our parishioners, 4) our current Parish Hall needs to be updated and improved to better meet the needs of our parish organizations and groups, and 5) we need to provide safe and adequate housing for our priests. As part of the Millennium Appeal, “Sharing Christ’s Gifts” a comprehensive plan was drawn up to meet these needs. It was decided that an elevator would be added to the Church and a new Parish Center would be built. Once these two phases are complete the current rectory would be remodeled and repaired as a residence for our priests. The cost of this undertaking has been estimated at $1.2 million dollars. Currently our parish is involved in a campaign to raise the necessary funds to make this Parish Center a reality. To date over $400,000 has been raised. Parish volunteers are working hard to raise the additional funds. This year marks the 75th Anniversary of St. Richard Parish. For seventy-five years God had generously blessed our parish. As we move forward to the next chapter in our history we give thanks to Almighty God for all that was, is and will be in the future. We pray that this will truly be a year of Jubilee and celebration. We hope you will join us in making this a special year.