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St. Joseph Village of Chicago Celebrated 125th Anniversary

2023 marked the 125th Anniversary of St. Joseph Village of Chicago. In 1898, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, led by their Foundress Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik, opened St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled in Chicago. To commemorate this milestone, Franciscan Ministries held a celebration on October 26 at St. Joseph Village. Associates, partners, and guests enjoyed an evening of refreshments with music from a harp and flute duet. St. Joseph Village also received the Certificate of Recognition for Service and Proclamations from the offices of Senator Natalie Toro, Illinois State Senator from the 20th District, and Alderman Felix Cardona, Jr. from 31st Ward in Chicago.  

St. Joseph Village of Chicago


Franciscan Ministries Chief Executive Officer Regina Umanskiy and Marcus Shaw, Executive Director of St. Joseph Village of Chicago, participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to show the latest renovations. 

Franciscan Ministries Chief Executive Officer Regina Umanskiy opened the celebration with a speech, paying tribute to the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. “This building embodies part of our history. It stands as a testament to the work started by our Foundress and the work that continues through the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago and their sponsored ministries, whether it’s providing living options and healthcare to the senior population in our Franciscan Communities or providing shelter to victims of domestic abuse through our St. Jude House or helping high school women fulfill their higher education dreams through our Madonna Foundation. Our Foundress understood how respect, dedication, stewardship, and joy can improve the lives of people. For more than 125 years, the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago have dedicated their lives to providing the senior population with the highest quality of care and services by continuing to respond to the changing needs of the marketplace and we, as Franciscan Ministries, continue this service through the guidance of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago,” Regina said. 

Featured during the event were campus tours of the new renovations that were completed on the facility. Rev. Michael O'Connell, Pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary in Chicago, performed the re-dedication blessing. One of the highlights of the day was a visit from actress and storyteller, Megan Wells, who portrayed Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik and shared stories on her life. Happy 125th Anniversary to St. Joseph Village of Chicago and thank you to all who attended this wonderful event! 

St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled.

The History of St. Joseph Village of Chicago 

Josephine Dudzik was born in Poland in 1860 and emigrated to Chicago in 1881. The Dudzik family joined St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish on the northwest side. At that time, the United States was in the midst of an economic depression. Many people lived in poverty. After the death of her father in 1889, Josephine and her mother began taking in the elderly and poor people into their home to care for them. Later in 1894, under the guidance of Father Vincent Barzynski, (who was her spiritual director), she started a new Congregation:  the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda (the original name of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago). She took the religious name of Sister Mary Theresa Dudzik (later she was given the honorary title of “Mother”) and more Sisters entered the Congregation. They continued caring for the poor and elderly in their neighborhood. 

In 1895, faced with overcrowding, the Sisters began to seek larger and better accommodations for the increasing number of aged and crippled people for whom they were providing shelter and care. They had moved into an apartment house across the street from St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. Mother Mary Theresa wanted to build a bigger house but lacked the funding to do so. Thus, she sought guidance of Father Vincent. With his help, the Sisters secured a loan for the purpose of building a new home. They also sought the intercession of St. Joseph, whom the Sisters selected as the patron of their home. Mother Mary Theresa called St. Joseph, the gospodarz, or the real “master” of their new home. Thus, the proposed new home was named after the saint: St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled. Over the years the facility would change names to St. Joseph Home for the Aged, St. Joseph Home of Chicago, and then later to St. Joseph Village of Chicago.


The only photo of Mother Mary Theresa with residents of 
St. Joseph Home. 

These frame houses sheltered the poor and elder residents.

As soon as I was able to see the skeleton of the building, I was overcome with fear and happiness. My heart was filled with gratitude to God, the sentiments which He alone could understand. I then ascended the ladder to the top of the building in order to see the progress made so far and to pray. No one saw me but God to whom I felt so close at that moment. When I realized that here, on this site which seemed to have been chosen by God Himself, so far from any church or people, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass would be offered and glory given to God, I cried from joy,” – Venerable Mary Theresa Dudzik on the building of St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled. (The Chronicle, Page 35).

Two of the earliest photos of the Sisters with residents and staff from St. Joseph Home for the Aged and Crippled.

With their constant work, faith, and perseverance, the Sisters turned St. Joseph Home into a success. In 1928, they convened to plan for a new St. Joseph Home for the Aged. Among the building committee members were famous Chicago citizens such as the philanthropist Jane Addams and Anton J. Cermack, the mayor of Chicago, and other prominent officials. They eventually tore down the frame houses and in their place built a new facility, turning it into a modern institution. It housed 200 residents with private and semi-private rooms, ward rooms, an infirmary, doctor’s examination room, and a pharmacy. There was also a chapel, a garden and the Stations of the Cross on the grounds for residents to enjoy.

St. Joseph Home for the Aged in 1929. This building was built on the same grounds and replaced the original frame houses.

These photos from the 1950's show every day life in St. Joseph Home and a photo of the chapel.

Renovations were made throughout the years and continued on once the Sisters established the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Service Corporation (later renamed Franciscan Ministries). The corporation was established to help support, manage, and operate all facilities sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago and assist them in extending their charitable mission in health care, social services, pastoral care, and education. When the Sisters closed Madonna High School in 2000 (a school they established and operated for over 50 years), they tore down the building and in its place built a brand new St. Joseph Home, where it currently stands to this day. 

St. Joseph Village of Chicago continues to thrive as a senior living community that offers assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, rehabilitation services, and respite care. The facility provides senior living residents with the highest quality of care, safety, and comfort. We pay tribute to all the Sisters, associates, and healthcare professionals who worked tirelessly to make St. Joseph Village of Chicago a success throughout these 125 years. 

A statue of St. Joseph at St. Joseph Village of Chicago.

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