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School - History & Mission


Mission Statement

We, the St. Mary of Gostyn Catholic School Community, are rooted in faith, empowered by knowledge, and inspired to serve.

The faculty, staff, and parents form a unique partnership in carrying out this mission of teaching the message of Jesus by celebrating meaningful liturgies, providing opportunities for service within the community, and passing on the beliefs and traditions of our faith. 

History of St. Mary of Gostyn School

St. Mary of Gostyn Parish, the oldest Catholic church in Downers Grove, was founded by poor immigrants who came from Gostyn, Poland, shortly after the American Civil War. By the 1880's, Polish-speaking priests from Chicago were regularly serving this rural settlement. Masses were said in homes or tents because there was no church.



In 1891, the Chicago Archdiocese approved the establishment of a parish that would include non-Polish Catholics from the Downers Grove area. With a mere 13 pews seating 25 families, St. Mary of Gostyn set its roots. It was located on the site of our present rectory. The first rectory was built on Douglas Street in 1895.


Soon after the launch of the church, St. Mary of Gostyn School opened a one-room wooden schoolhouse in 1897. It was the first parochial school in Downers Grove and the only parochial school between LaGrange and Naperville. A simple wood wall partitioned the room into two sections. At first, male teachers taught the students until 1916 when two Franciscan Sisters of Our
Lady of Perpetual Help staffed our school, commencing, our tradition of religious women teaching at St. Mary. They continued until 1918 when the Felician Sisters came in the fall.  Members of their order are still with us today. 


In 1920, a combination school and convent was built on the southeast corner of Douglas and Prairie. After World War II, a brick church, seating 220 people, was built on the northeast corner of Douglas and Wilson Streets and dedicated in 1948. One year later in 1949, St. Mary of Gostyn became part of the Joliet Diocese and the congregation totaled 400 parishioners making up 130 families.

By the 1950s, St. Mary of Gostyn was growing at a rapid pace. In 1953 St. Mary's was made a territorial parish for surrounding growing populations to practice their faith. In 1954 a three-story structure was built on the northeast corner of Prairie and Douglas to serve the budding school. Then, in 1957, a new convent (now the Parish Center) was built across the street to house the nuns who taught at the school. A convent and the current rectory were built in 1954 and 1957 respectively. Catechism classes for public school children were introduced about this same time.

In 1978,  classrooms and a gymnasium were added to the original three-story building. The facility was dedicated by Bishop Romeo Blanchette in August of 1978. In 1995, St. Mary of Gostyn introduced a kindergarten program and a pre-school program in 1999; thereby creating a complete Catholic education.


For over a century, the continuous growth of our school has allowed children ages three to fourteen to experience an education enriched by their Catholic faith at St. Mary of Gostyn.  Our staff numbers over 40 people. Our school building has 20 classrooms, a computer lab, a gym, a Learning/Resource Center which serves as our library and tech lab, a teachers' lounge, and an office area. Our students have the opportunity to participate in numerous after-school activities and our parents have many organizations and activities to involve them in their children's life at St. Mary.

For over 115 years St. Mary of Gostyn School has been rich in FAITH, EDUCATION, SERVICE, and COMMUNITY. Currently, Father James Schwab is the 26th pastor to lead our parish. Mr. Chris Tiritilli is the 19th principal.  Far from the humble beginning of 25 families, today, over 400 students are enrolled in Pre-School through 8th Grade at St. Mary School.  With a tradition rich in faith, education, service and community, our parish continues towards a bright future enriching faith life, educating on Catholicism, serving those in need, and enjoying our close community.

Welcome to St. Mary of Gostyn School - a history of many parts, but one body.

Parish History

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