St. Adalbert Church
2505 W. Grace Street
South Bend, Indiana
The history of St Adalbert parish is detailed on the parish website and is summarized below.
St Adalbert parish was founded in 1910 as a Polish parish in South Bend, Indiana. Most of its parishioners were very poor. It was the last of four Polish churches in South Bend. The parish eventually outgrew its church and a cornerstone for a new church was laid in 1923. It took three years for the parishioners to raise enough money for the church, which was completed in 1926 at a cost of $23,000.
In 1940, the Rev. Aloysius Jarka was appointed pastor. Although his pastorship at St Adalbert was short due to illness, he hired John Mallin to decorate the church in 1941. Rev. Jarka passed away in September of 1943. He can be seen in the original black and white photos of the church standing next to Mallin, who painted murals on the North and South Walls of the church, as well as the altar decorations. Stenciling above the altar and the murals can also be seen in the 1941 photos. The total cost of the decorations was $15,000.
As the St Adalbert website states, “The mural on the North wall of the church best, painted by John A Mallin in 1941, epitomizes the humble but determined beginnings of the church. In the mural, Polish immigrants are shown constructing and beating their swords into plowshares. Industrial development can be seen in the form of factories in the distance and above the whole scene the people’s pastor is pointing to a cloud with the fallen Christ under his heavy cross struggling along. This struggle of Christ exemplifies what the Polish people have endured in establishing St. Adalbert’s. Far above the picture of Christ is a Polish inscription which is translated “By the sweat of your brow you have received the bread of life.” This mural can be seen in the original 1941 black and white photo as well as in the current color photo. This mural is similar to the murals Mallin did at St Joseph’s in 1943 in Hammond, Indiana, which also included images of workers including steel workers.
The altar murals and the north and south wall murals are still intact. However the stencil decorations above the altar stained glass windows, and above the north and south murals are gone.
The church celebrated its centennial in 2010, and currently celebrates masses in English, Spanish and Polish.