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Holy Rosary Church - Passic NJ

A history of the parish from the 1943 Silver Jubilee Book

The thought of organizing a second Polish Catholic parish in Passaic, N. J., arose in the minds of the people in the year1908, at the time when immigration from Poland was at its height and St. Joseph's Church was too small to accomodate all the faithful.

But it was not till the year 1913, that this thought began to materialize, when the Most Rev. Bishop O'Connor directed Rt. Rev. Msgr. Ignatius Szudrowicz to organize a new parish. After incorporating the new parish with John Zurawski, James Serafin and Joseph Kupiszewski, under the title of "Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church in Passaic, N. J.", Msgr. Szudrowicz resigned and Msgr. Julius Manteuffel, pastor of St. Joseph's Church, was appointed Administrator of this nominal parish.

This state of affairs continued to exist until February 27, 1918, on which day the Most Rev. Bishop outlined the boundaries for the new parish and appointed Rev. Father Stanislaus J. Kruczek as its pastor.

A difficult task awaited the newly appointed pastor, chief among which were those caused by the World War. To obtain the necessary loan and purchase building material for the proposed church, school and rectory a special Government permit had to be first obtained. All this en tailed much trouble and strenuous effort but, in the end, all these and other difficulties were overcome.

Actual work on the new church was commenced on July 18, 1918. Msgr. James Mooney, rector of the Diocesan Seminary, blessed the plot and dug the first shovel of earth for the foundation. In the meantime all church services were held in a hired hall on 8th street, converted temporarily to a chapel.

On February 9, 1919, the basement of the new church was completed and the Most Rev. Bishop blessed this for use as a temporary church.

The New Year of 1921 was ushered in with the dedication of the completed edifice, having a seating capacity for 1,000 people and a parish school of seventeen classrooms. The latter had already been opened for use on February 1st of the previous year. The new structure was blessed and dedicated on January 2, 1921 by the Most Rev. Archbishop Felix Guerra of Santiago, Cuba.

In the Spring of 1920 work on the new rectory was begun and the year 1921 and the first half of 1922 were taken up with the finishing of details in the buildings.

On Sunday, June 11, 1922, Father Francis Kowalczyk, a newly ordained priest and a member of the congregation, said his first Holy Mass in the new church. On being assigned to the parish he at once took up his duties as Assistant to the pastor, a position he was to hold for the next 16 years.

The following day, June 12, 1922, the spirit of the Holy Rosary parishioners was put to a strenuous test. A fire, breaking out in a neighboring house, spread with such rapidity that within one hour the fine new church and splendid school were reduced to ruins and smoldering debris. The faithful came through this test with flying colors, for starting anew with increased zeal and never diminishing hope, the church and school were restored the very same year. The completely restored building was dedicated on April 8, 1923, by the Most Rev. Bishop Ernest Coppo of Kimberley, Australia, and on October 4th of the same year a fine electric organ, installed in the church for the sum of 15,000 dollars, was blessed.

The year 1926 will be unforgettable in the annals of the Holy Rosary Parish. In this year the great and holy Archbishop, John F. Cieplak, arrived in America and chose the Holy Rosary Rectory as his headquarters during his sojourn in this country. It was here too, that, succumbing to a severe illness, caused by his unflagging zeal in the work for Christ and love for his people, he died shortly afterwards. With deepest sorrow, the parish tendered their last farewell to the mortal remains

of the Archbishop at a solemn funeral in this church. The funeral services were conducted by the Most Rev. Bishop Schrembs of Cleveland, Ohio, and the eulogy was delivered by the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas H. McLaughlin, then Rector of the Diocesan Seminary, and destined in later years to become the first Bishop of the Diocese of Paterson.

In the year 1927 the last building, a splendid Convent for the Reverend Sisters, was erected and solemnly blessed.

The work of organizing and building was now completed. From small insignificant beginnings arose a breath taking picture of magnificent parish buildings. On the ocassion of the 10th Anniversary of the parish, and to commemorate the completed task, a Jubilee Fund of 10,000 dollars was raised, with which a part of the parish debt was paid off. In June of this year another boy of the parish was ordained, the late Rev. Joseph A. Dziewic. who said his first mass in this church on June 3. 1928.

The following years, dedicated to the work of developing the organization of the parish, was marked by the well remembered "Depression". Everything else made room for the gigantic task of bringing relief to the hundreds of families in the parish, who were stricken by the country's economic turnover. Distribution of food, clothing, fuel and money, efforts to obtain employment for the poor of the parish is part of the daily program during these years.

The celebration of the 10th anniversary of his priesthood by the beloved Assistant of the parish, Father Kowalczyk, on June 12, 1932, and the visit paid the parish by the great Polish hero, General Joseph Haller, in 1934, as well as the First Holy Mass celebrated l\1ay 27, 1934 in the Holy Rosary Church by another of its parishioners, Rev. John A. Zak, are but flashes of a brighter side of the picture during the depression years.

Again, on the 20th of October, 1935, on the ocassion of the Silver Jubilee of the Ordination of its beloved Pastor, Father Kruczek, the parish raised a fund of 10,000 dollars, reducing by that amount the heavy burden of its debt.

In December, 1937, the parish began to function under the jurisdiction of the Most Rev. Bishop Thomas H. McLaughlin, appointed the first Bishop of the newly created Diocese of Paterson.

A proof of the rapid spiritual growth of the parish is furnished during the Holy Mission, which took place during the Holy Lent of the year 1938, when over 8,150 Holy. Communions were distributed to the faithful.

i'he above was preliminary to the festive celebration of the parish's 20th anniversary, which occasion was honored by the presence of a large number of Church and civil dignitaries, among which was present the Polish Ambassador to the United States, Count Jerzy Potocki. The Celebration took place in the Church, beautified for the occasion by 54 new stained glass windows, donated to the church by indIvidual parishioners, at a cost of 5,000 dollars.

In December, 19381 the news of the appointment of Father Kowalczyk, as pastor of OurLady of Mercy parish in Whippany, N. J., was received with mingled emotions of sorrow and joy by the faithful. After 16 years of fruitful labor in Holy Rosary, he left on January 1, 1939, to take up his duties in his own parish.

September 1, 1939, marked the beginning of the present War, and again the life of the parish is concentrated in the effort to build up the defenses of this country and to alleviate the sufferings of the unfortunates, brought under the heel of the invader. During this time, on May 19, 1940, the parish again celebrates joyfully the Ordination and' First Holy Mass of another of its members, the Rev. Miecislaus Zak.

Stricken by the fate of his beloved Poland, the Rev. Canon Kruczek suffered a stroke, which undermined his health to such a degree, that Rev. Father Kurzynowski took over the duties of administering the parish. Slowly succumbing to the inevitable, on the 21st of November 1941, the Rev. Canon suffered another stroke, which left him unconscious for three days and on the 23rd of November, he passed away while still in a coma. The hard blow of the loss of their pastor was tempered somewhat with the subsequent news that his place is to be taken by Father Kowalczyk. After a three year absence Father Kowalczyk returned "home".

On the 7th of December, 1941, our country is drawn into the world wide struggle by the treacherous attack by Japan. The realization of the parish's participation in this War is brought close home to all, when on 31st of May, 1942, the blessing of the first Honor Roll took place in the church.

A signal honor befell the parish on the occasion of the blessing of its Service Flag, August 16, 1942, Congressman Gordon Canfield, present at the ceremony, subsequently speaking from the floor of the House of Representatives, paid the Holy Rosary Parish high tribute for its War effort, and this speech was entered in the Congressional Record.

In addition, on November 22, 1942, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his Priesthood, the new Pastor, Father Kowalczyk, was tendered a certificate of merit, issued to the parish by the City of Passaic, in recognition of its splendid work in the sale of War Bonds.

Father Kowalczyk made the first year of his Pastorate a memorable one for the Holy Rosary Parish. By dint of hard work and tireless energy on his part, and with the most wonderful cooperation of the people, the parish succeeded that year in reducing its debt by 27,800 dollars.

The formal beginning of the Silver Jubilee Year took place on February 28, 1943, with a solemn procession and High Mass, in the presence of the Rt. Rev. Msgr. John Dauenhauer, Vicar-General of the Diocese, representing the Most Rev. Bishop McLaughlin, who was unable to attend because of illness.

On the 20th of June, 1943, the Jubilee year was marked by the celebration of his first Holy Mass by the Rev. Father John Pokrywka, the sixth member of the parish attain such high honor.

At the time of this writing the Jubilee year has not as yet run its course. The Jubilee Campaign is nearing its goal of a 25,000 dollar Fund, but already the results of the campaign enabled the parish to pay this year 33,000 dollars off its debt Celebrating the conclusion of the Jubilee year November 14, 1943, the parishioners of Holy Rosary Parish will be able to look back on their accomplishments in the last 25 years with pardonable pride in a task well done.

At present the parish is expending all energy in active participation in the War effort of this country. During the World War, the Holy Rosary parishioners bought Liberty Bonds for the sum of 368,000 dollars. During the present struggle, up to now, purchases of War Bonds through the parish have reached the sum of 200,000 dollars. This does not include the Bonds purchased by the parishioners ,in their places of employment. The Holy Rosary School leads all schools in Passaic, both public and parochial, in the purchase of War Bonds and Stamps. There is a job to be done in bringing over 500 Holy Rosary boys back home from the battle fronts, the world over.

Not forgetful of the great sacrifices undergone by the pioneers of the Holy Rosary Parish, we take this occasion to pay them both the living and the dead, high tribute, humbly conscious of the enormity of the task left to us to carryon. Their memory, and especially that of the Founder and Father of the Parish. the late Rev. Canon Stanislaus John Kruczek, will live in the history of the parish for all time to come.

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Last Updated on October 19, 2011