St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church (Chicago)

St. Joseph
St. Joseph
Coordinates: 41°48′23.9″N 87°40′06″W / 41.806639°N 87.66833°W / 41.806639; -87.66833
Location 4821 South Hermitage Avenue
Country United States
Denomination Roman Catholic
Founded 1887 (1887)
Founder(s) Polish immigrants
Dedication St. Joseph
Dedicated October 6, 1895 (1895-10-06)
Consecrated  ()
Functional status Active
Heritage designation For Polish immigrants
Architect(s) Joseph Molitor
Architectural type Church
Style Baroque
Groundbreaking September 10, 1913 (1913-09-10)
Completed  ()
Construction cost $200,000 (1914)
Materials Brick

St. Joseph's (Polish: Kościół Świętego Józefa) is a historic church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago located in Chicago, Illinois at 4821 South Hermitage Avenue.

It is a prime example of the Polish Cathedral style of churches in both its opulence and grand scale. Along with St. John of God, it is one of two monumental religious edifices that dominates the skyline of the Back of the Yards neighborhood.


Initially a mission of St. Mary of Perpetual Help, St. Joseph's was organized in 1887 as the first Polish parish in the Back of the Yards. Its patron saint proved very appropriate as the parish long served a congregation of immigrant workers near the Union Stockyards. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Polish population in the Back of the Yards increased so greatly that two other Polish parishes were formed from St. Joseph's parish—St. John of God, in 1906, and Sacred Heart, in 1910.[1] Like most of the Poles who settled in Chicago's Southwest Side, many of the first parishioners of St. Joseph's were Gorals, or Polish Highlanders, from the Carpathian Mountains. Although the Union Stockyards closed in the early 1970s and some Polish immigrants moved from the Back of the Yards neighborhood, St. Joseph's still celebrates Mass in Polish, as well as a Mass in English and three in Spanish for the present-day residents from Latin America who live there.

In 1990, St. Joseph was one of four Back of the Yards parishes to survive Diocesan budget cuts. The others - Sacred Heart of Jesus at 4600 South Honore Street, St. Rose of Lima Church at 1456 West 48th Street, Sts. Cyril and Methodius at 5009 South Hermitage, and St. Augustine Church at 5045 South Laflin, closed that year.[2][3][4]

St. Joseph celebrated its 125th anniversary with a Mass and celebration on September 1, 2012.[5]


The imposing Baroque church was designed by Joseph Molitor in 1914 with a seating capacity of 1,200. Molitor also created the plans for two neighboring Roman Catholic churches in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago founded by Eastern European immigrants—Holy Cross Church which served a Lithuanian congregation and the now closed Sts. Cyril and Methodius church, constructed by a Bohemian congregation.

Church in architecture books

See also


  1. Archdiocese of Chicago (1980). "St. Joseph Church History". Polish Genealogical Society of America. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  2. Hirsley, Michael; Kendall, Peter (21 January 1990). "Pastors Give Parishioners The Bad News". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  3. Seigel, Jessica; Ybarra, Michael (22 January 1990). "Priest Is Overcome After Breaking News". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  4. Reardon, Patrick; Hirsley, Michael (1 February 1990). "Debt, Low Turnout Did In Churches". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  5. "St. Joseph Parish in Back of the Yards turns 125". Catholic New World. Archdiocese of Chicago. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
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