Suit Charges Abuse by Priest
Winfield Pastor Says Accuser in His Prayers

By Manya A. Brachear
Chicago Tribune
March 23, 2006

The pastor of a west suburban church has been accused of molesting a 13-year-old Polish immigrant while serving at Five Holy Martyrs parish in Chicago in the late 1980s, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Rev. Chester Przybylo, who for the past decade has been pastor of the Shrine of Christ the King in west suburban Winfield, denied the allegations. The church is Catholic but is not recognized by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

"It hurts," Przybylo said in an interview Wednesday. "I knew this boy for so many years, and as a man too. The allegations are not accurate. I've always prayed for him and now I'll pray for him even more."

The plaintiff, a 32-year-old construction worker in Chicago, said Przybylo first molested him in the communal showers of a health club in 1987. The abuse continued for more than a year, the suit said, at the apartment of a friend of the priest and in the rectory of Five Holy Martyrs, a historically Polish Roman Catholic parish at 4327 S. Richmond St.

When the boy began to resist, he said Przybylo threatened to have him arrested and have his mother deported. He said that when he tried to tell a bishop and another pastor about the abuse, both scolded him and told him to go to confession.

"I did tell the bishop that Chester might be hurting boys," the plaintiff said. "I was yelled at and told to go to confession as if I sinned."

The suit names Przybylo and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago as defendants. A spokesman for the archdiocese said officials had not seen the lawsuit.

Interviewed at his home, Przybylo said he was bewildered by the allegations.

"It would be like being told just now that your mother had died," said Przybylo, wearing a black cassock. "What would be your immediate reaction? My reaction is what it is."

The plaintiff's lawyer, Jeff Anderson, said the priest was ordained in the Diocese of Tarno in Poland in 1976. He served at St. Stanislaus parish in Utica, N.Y., in 1977 and at St. Mary's parish in Reading, Pa., from 1978 to 1980.

A spokeswoman for the Milwaukee archdiocese said Przybylo lived in Milwaukee in 1981 but did not have permission to celebrate mass there. His whereabouts in the five years prior to 1987, when he began his assignment at Five Holy Martyrs, are unclear. He stayed there until 1991 and served at Holy Innocents parish, 743 N. Armour St., in the two years that followed.

The Chicago archdiocese said Przybylo had served as an "extern" rather than as an archdiocesan priest.

Przybylo said that in 1994 he moved to a parish in the Diocese of Madison, Wis., though a spokesman reported there was no record of him working there.

In 1996 he started at Shrine of Christ the King, a conservative Catholic parish that is located within the geographical boundaries of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet but is not recognized by the church.

"Father Przybylo is not connected with the Joliet Diocese in any way," a spokesman for the diocese said in a statement. "Past talks about the shrine being acceptable to the diocese were never fruitful."


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