A History of Many Parts, But One Body

Founded in 1891, St. Mary of Gostyn is rich in Faith, Education, Service, and Community. Father Shaun Cieslik is the 27th pastor to lead our parish. Far from the humble beginning of 25 families, today 2,700 families make up St. Mary of Gostyn. Over 400 students are enrolled in Preschool through 8th Grade at St. Mary of Gostyn School and over 500 children attend religious education classes. In addition, over 30 ministries provide service to our parishioners as well as those outside our Church.  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.

Years of Faith, Education, Service & Community
Families at St. Mary of Gostyn
Ministries provided by St. Mary’s


Our Mission

St. Mary of Gostyn Parish is a welcoming, faith-sharing Christian community rooted in scripture and Catholic tradition. We are called by God through the Holy Spirit to nurture and minister to the spiritual needs of all through prayer, liturgy, education and service.

Our Parish History

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.

Where does our name originate?

In the late 1400s, Our Lady appeared to a group of farmers on a hill outside the small town of Gostyn, Poland. Shortly after the apparition was seen, a two-dimensional icon of the Blessed Virgin and her divine child was painted from eyewitness descriptions. The painting was done in the Eastern tradition similar to that of “Our Lady of Perpetual Help”. By 1512, a small church was built on the hill to commemorate the apparition. The painting was placed over the altar. Soon, a parish community was formed by an order of priests founded by St. Philip Neri. The parish was called the “Church of the Mother of God of the Holy Hill of Gostyn,” more briefly, “Holy Mary of Gostyn” or “St. Mary of Gostyn”. Years later, the church was replaced by a large basilica (Swieta Gora) which became a shrine famous throughout Poland.

Soon after the American Civil War, poor farmers emigrated from the area around Gostyn to the eastern part of Downers Grove. They brought their devotion to

Our Lady with them and, in 1891, named their church after St. Mary of Gostyn.
On October 2, 1983, as a way of showing our love for Our Lady, a print of the original painting of the Blessed Virgin and her child was enshrined in our church in the narthex.