Saints Cyril and Methodius Slovak Church
Saints Cyril and Methodius Church at Walton Street and Kildare avenue was organized in 1914 to serve Slovak families who lived on the northwest side of Chicago. Although the Polish parish of Saint Francis of Assissi had been founded in 1909 at 4424 W. Walton Street, the nearest Slovak Church was that of Sacred Heart, which was then located at Huron street and Racine avenus. (Image Left - (1))
At the turn of the century, a large number of Slovaks settled near the Northwestern Railroad Car Shops, which extended along Chicago avenue from Kilpatricak avenue to Pulaski road. In 1913 members of the newly organized Society of Saint Martin saw the need for a Slovak parish west of Pulaski road. They consulated Reveren Michaeh Bajor, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, who presented the matter before Archbishop James E. Qugley.
On January 3, 1914, Archbishop Quigley granted the request for the new parish. There was one drawback; he had no Slovak priest to care for the congregation. Archbishop Quigley advised the Slovaks to begin a search for a Slovak speaking priest; in the meantime, he approved the purchase of land on the northeast corner of Walton street and Kildare avenue for a church building. A parish committee was selected and the organization of the national parish began in earnest.
Toward the end of February 1915, Father Bajor called the committee members to his rectory to meet a young Slovak born priest, Reverend Victor Blahunka. Father Blahunka came to Chicago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he had been pastor of St. Stephen Church. At the suggestion of Father Bajor, the new parish was named SS. Cyril and Methodius; Father Blahunka officially began his work as pastor on March 2, 1915.
Ground for the new church and school building was broken on July 13, 1915 and the cornerstone was blessed by Auxillary Bishop Alexander J. McGavick on August 1, 1915. While construction was underway, Father Blahunka held services for his congregation in the parish house of Our Lady of the Angels Church at Iowa street and Hamilin avenue.
The altar in the new church was blessed on December 19, 1915 and the edifice was opened for Mass on Christmas Day. In 1917, the School Sisters of ST. Francis from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, opened the parish school; the classrooms were located on the second floor of the combination building. For many years, the Sisters resided in a building at 4256 W. Walton street.
Father Blahunka continued to serve as pastor until 1921, when he was named pastor of Sacred Heart Church. His successor ws Reverend Michael J. Buc, a young Slovak born priest who had been ordained by Archbishop George W. Mundelein in 1920
In 1925, 212 children were enrolled in the parish school. Following Father Buc's appointment as pastor of the Slovak parish of Holy Rosary on Chicago's far south side, Reverend John A. Fedor was named pastor. He came to the northwest side of Chicago in July 1927 from Argo, Illinois, where he had been an assistant at St. Blase Church.
Throughout Father Fedor's pastorate, which spanned 32 years, attendance at SS. Cyril and Methodius school remained small. After suffering a stroke in 1958, the pastor returned to his home in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
The Franciscan Fathers from Valparaiso, Indiana, cared for the parish until May 18, 1958 when Reverend Daniel P. Romancik was appointed administrator. Following Father Fedor's death on March 9, 1959, he was named pastor. (Father Fedor - https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/171561675/john-a-fedor) He continued to srve the people of SS. Cyril and Methodius parish until March 1966, when he was named pastor of St. Simon the Apostle Church. Father Romancik died in 1985 (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/249324350/daniel-p-romancik).
At the same time, Reverend John J. Spitkovsky, the only assistant ever assigned to this parish, was transferred to the Slovak parish of Assumption on California boulevard, whe he later was named pastor.
Reverend Anthony S. Chisek had been pastor since Mrch 4, 1966. Prior to this assignment he served as pastor of the Slovak parish of Saint John the Baptist in South Chicago. Father Chisek would be the last priest for the parish. The parish closed, and Father Chisek died in 2003 (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/248983676/anthony-chisek)
For many years, the Servite Fathers from Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica and St. Philip high school assisted at the parish on weekends. This arrangement continued until June 1971.
In June 1972, the parish school was closed as a result of decreased enrollment and the increased costs of operating a grammar school program. The 182 student who had been in attendance were invited to enroll at the nearby schools of Our Lady of Angels and St. Francis of Assisi.
SS. Cyril and Methodius continues to be the national parish for Slovaks who live in the northwestern section of the Archdiocese. Over the years, hovever, the exclusively Slovak character of the parish has diminished. In the mid 1970's only half of the 450 families who belonged to the parish were Slovak. Although families of many ethnic backgrounds were represented in teh congregation, Italians formed the second largest ethnic group.
Active parish societies include the Rosary Society, the Holy Name Society, Third Order of St. Francis, Cyrillian Guild, St. Andrew Sokols and Sokoldy, St. Elizabeth Society, St. John Nepomucene, St. Joseph Cadets, St. Martin Society, a branch of the Slovak League of America, and a Teen Club. Connected to SS Syril and Methodius Church is a two story brick rectory at 4244 W. Walton street. As the parish does not have a hall, the church societies meet in nearby Harmony hall at Thomas street and Kostner avenue. (1)
The SS. Cyril and Methodius parish was organized January 3, 1914, with 128 families.
The first pastor, Rev. V. Blahunka was appointed for the congregation on March 2 , 1915. Immediately preparations were made for
the building of a church at the Northwest corner of North Kildare Avenue and West Walton Street. On July 13, 1915, the cornerstone
was laid by the Right Reverend Bishop Alexander J. McGavick. Mass was celebrated in the new church on the 19th of December following.
The parish has ten auxiliary societies and the growth and develop ment in the last few years is marvelous. There is a school with four
Sisters and over 200 pupils. (2)
Sts. Cyril and Methodius' Pai'ish was organized January 3, 1914, with 128 families. The first pastor, Rev. Y. Blahunka, was ap- pointed for this congregation March 2, 1915. Immediately preparations were made for building a church on the northeast corner of North Kildare Avenue and W. Walton Street. Plans were made for an edifice which would contain both church and school, and the building of same was begun on July 13, 1915. The Right Rev. Bishop MeGavick laid the corner stone August 1st, of the same year, and the first Mass was celebrated in the new church on the following 19th of December. The next spring the building was completed, and on July 4, 1916, it was dedicated by the Right Rev. Bishop MeGavick. The school, which was opened September 2, 1917, was placed in charge of the Sisters of St. Francis. In 1917 the rectory was built. At present the congregation numbers 178 families. Ten auxiliary societies have been formed since the foundation of the parish. Sts. Cyril and Methodius is still in charge of its first pastor. (3)
The Archdiocese of Chicago closed Saints Cyril and Methodius Slovak Catholic Church on December 31, 1987. Kingsworld International Church now occupies the church building.
1. History of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Editor: Rev. Msgr. Harry C. Koenig, S.T.D., Volumes One and Two, Published by the Archdiocese of Chicago, Chicago , Illinois, 1980.
Current Images: - Google Maps, Capture Nov. 2019
2. Illinois Catholic Historical Review, Volume IV, July 1921, Number 1, Published by the Illinois Catholic Historical Society, Chicago, Illinois, Page 190.
3. 1920 Diamond Jubilee of the Archdiocese of Chicago 1920, Published by the Archdiocese of Chicago, St. Mary's Training School Press, Des Plaines, Illnois, 1920, Page 657.