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Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish - Quidnick RI

A brief parish history from the 1957 Jubilee Book

God is the Lord of history. We know that all events occur according to the will or permission of Divine Providence and that God reaches his objectives in history. St. Augustine said that whatever God intends, hoc fit, hoc agitur, etsi paulatim peragitur, indesinenter agitur . . . whatever God intends happens, is done, and though it is done only step by step, it still is being done incessantly. With this thought in mind we review briefly the foundation, growth and development of St. Mary's Parish, Quidnick, RI

The beginnings of St. Mary's parish can be tried back to the turn of the century, At that time the textile industry was booming in the Pawtuxet Valley. Many mills and factories had sprung up along the Pawtuxet River and the Polish immigrants, who came to America in search of food and freedom, were soon attracted to the Valley.

It is reported that in 1901 there were as many as 50 Polish families in the area. By 1903 a St. Michael's Mutual Aid Sor rety was organized, largely through the efforts of John Szarek and Thomas Buha. It was this group that conceived the idea of establishing a special parish for the Polish immigrants. The Polish people were attending services at St. James' and St. John's Church in Arctic. But, the English and French language were equally foreign to the immigrants. And, since one reason for fleeing partitioned Poland was to be free to worship God in their native tongue, they approached Bishop Matthew Harkins, the second bishop of the diocese of Providence, with a request for permission to organize a new parish for the Polish-speaking people. The bishop ordered a census to be taken of the Polish immigrants. When this census revealed that there were over 100 Polish families in the Pawtuxet Valley, he sent Father Francis Kluger to organize the parish. Father Kliger was born April 22,1880 in Siemianowice, Upper Silesia, Poland. It was there that he received his normal education. His preparatory training was received atthe Polish College of Don Bosco in Lombriasco, Italy. Having completed his philosophical studies at Ivrea, Italy, he went to Louvain, Belgium, for theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 28, 1905.

Father Kluger arrived in the Pawtuxet Valley in October 1905. According to the Baptismal Register, the sacrament of baptism was administered for the first time in the parish on October 10. On October 22, 1905, Father Kluger began celebrating Mass in the basement of St. John's Church.

The first lay trustees of the parish were John Szarek and Joseph Olszewski. On February 12,1906, the newly, organized parish acquired approximately an acre of land in Quidnick from the Quidnick Manufacturing Company. When, through the generosity of the parishioners and the able administration of Father Kiuger, enough money was raised to cover the running expenses of the new parish, the firm of Frank M. Tucker was contracted to build a church for $15,000.

In the meantime, the textile industry was booming just as well in the Blackstone Valley, and even more Polish immigrants began to settle in Central Falls and Pawtucket. For this reason Bishop Harkins transferred Father Kluger from Quidnick to Central Falls late in 1906 to organize a parish there. When asked by thebishop to recommend someone to replace him in Quidnick, Father Kiuger suggested Father John M. Nowicki, whom he had known as a student in Louvain.

Father Nowicki arrived in Quidnick on November 2, 1906. Publicly he was known as Father John Marianski. It is conjectured that he changed his name to conceal his identity lest he be traced down by the Russians. Father Nowiki was on the Czars black list and was afraid to return to Poland after he completed his studies in Louvain, Belgium. Therefore, when offered an opportunity to come to the United States, Father Nowicki gladly accepted Bishop Harkins' invitation.

Under Father Nowicki's direction the work on the new church continued. The gothic style edifice with a seating capacity of 400 was completed in the spring of 1907. As an expression of their great love and devotion to the Mother of God, the Polish people named the church Our Lady of Czestochowa, in honor of Mary's most famous shrine in Poland. The church was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Harkins on April 21, 1907. Following the blessing a Solemn High Mass was offered by Father Bourgeois, assisted by Father Higney (Msgr. Edward A. Higney of St. Joseph's, Ne port) as deacon and Father Kluger as subdeacon. Father Basifiski preached the occasional sermon. Fr. Chalupka of Webster, MA,was also present at this solemn occasion.

Father Nowicki left Quidnick in August and the infant parish was left without a priest. On September 24, Father Maximilian Soltysek arrived from Hartford, Conn., but he remained only two months. Then on December 12, 1907, Father Michael Dutkiewicz was assigned to Quidnick.

Father Dutkiewicz was born in Szerensk, Poland in 1875, the son of Leopold and Josephine Dutkiewicz. He attended schools in Warsaw and the seminary at Plock. He was ordained in 1900, but continued his Studies for four years at the Catholic University of Fribourg, Switzerland, graduating with a Doctor of Theology degree. Father Dutkiewicz then returned to Poland where he labored in the ministry for three years. In 1907 he came to the United States and Bishop Harkins placea him in charge of St. Mary's parish. There he remained until 1914, when he went to work in the archdiocese of Boston, Two years later he returned to Providence and organized St. Hedwig's Parish, where he remained as pastor till 1928. From St. Hedwig's, Father Dutkiewicz was transferred to St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Woonsocket, where he remained till his death. He died suddenly while leading his parish delegation in the Holy Name Parade on September 23, 1934.

On November 27, 1907, Father Dutkiewicz organized the Children of Mary Society. This group eventually evolved into the Mothers Rosary Society. On March 1. 1905, the Church of Our Lady of Czenstochowa was incorporated under the laws of the state of Rhode Island. John Szarek and Thomas Buba, who played very prominent roles in organizing the parish and in its early history, were named lay trustees of the corporation.

When Father Dutkiewicz removed to Boston in 1914, he was succeeded in Quidnick by Father Lawrence Malecki. Father Malecki was the first American-born pastor of St. Mary's Parish. The Son of Thomas and Frances (Pewinski) Malecki, he was born in Franklin, PA on JuIy 11, 188 2. Graduating from the parochial school in LaSalle, IL, he entered the Polish Seminary at Detroit (Ochard Lake) MI where he completed his high school, college and Seminary courses. He was ordained on June 29, 1910. He was first assigned to the Fall River Diocese and then in April 1914, he came to Quidnick.

Father Malecki’s first undertaking was to build a church hall in the basement of thechurch. This being completed he began work on July 15, 1915, on the present rectory which was built at a cost of $7,000. At the same time he had the parish land leveled. Two parishioners, Joseph Dcisza and Joseph Mleczko were hired to bulld side altars for the church. For a time in 1916, lather Michael Sadowski helped out in the parish.

Father Malecki will always as be remembered as a truly great priest. He was as a perfect gentleman, a very capable administrator and an inspiring preacher. Although A merican born had a marvelous of the Polish language. He loved the Polish peopIe, theircustoms and traditions. Combining these elements, he became one of the most effective Polish preachers the diocese of Provience has over known.

On Armistice Day, November 11. 1917, Father Malecki was appointed pastor of St Joseph Parish in Central Falls, where he remained till his death on Independence Day, July 4, 1934.

Father Kluger succeeed Father Malecki in 1917. In Central Falls he had organized St. Joseph Parish and erected a beautiful church. Upon his return to Quidnick, he undertook his parish duties as energetically as ever. Father Kluger also worked very zealously to send as much aid as possible to the poor and needy in Poland after the close of World War I. Father Kiuger worked tirelessly for tour years in Ouidnick and then due to ill-health and discouragement. returned to Poland.

For a few months in 1921 St. Mary's was administered by Father J. Olechnowicz: Then on Member 6, 1922, Bishop William A. Hickey appointed Father Bronislaus S. Rosiaik pastor of the parish.

Father Rosiak was born in Krolestwo, Poland and came to America when he was four years old. He graduated from the parish grammarschool in Baltimore, MD and from the Jesuit High School in the same city. He studied philosophy at Louvain, Belgium, and theology for one year in Rome and three years at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore. The celebrated Cardinal Gibbons ordained Father Rosiak to the priesthood on May 30, 1917. Father Rosiak worked for a year in the diocese of Pittsburg, PA, and then as a curate at St. Joseph's Parish in Central Falls from 1918 to 1922. Father Rosiak served as pastor of St. Mary's from December 1922 to October 1934. In 1934 he was assigned to St. Adalbert's Parish in Providence, R. I. where he has remained as pastor to the present day.

During his twelve years at St. Mary's, Father Rosiak proved himself to be a zealous pastor and able administrator guiding and directing the spiritual and material fortunes of the parish. In January of 1923, he nominated Andrew Pojda to serve together with Thomas Buba as lay trustees of the parish. Within a year after his arrival, Father Rosiak had a new boiler installed in church at a cost of $2,500. A year later the interior of the church was painted at a cost of $5,725. In 1927 Stanley Zelazny succeeded Thomas Buba as lay trustee of the parish. In the spring of that year, a $5,000 pipe organ was purchased and installed in church. Also in that same year, Father Rosiak purchased from the Quidnick-Windham Manufacturing Company, four acres of land and two buildings. The first of these buildings was later converted into a combination school and convent. The other building, until recently, was used as a tenement, but now serves as an annex to the school, housing two class rooms.

The year 1931 was a notable one in the history of the parish for it marked the 25th anniversary of its founding. On Sunday, October 18, the various societies and organizations assembled on Meeting Street in Anthony and led by chief marshal Frank Biros marched to the church for a memorial Mass. After Mass the overflow crowd led by the Polish White Eagle Band directed by Felix Malikowski marched 600 strong to the hail in Crompton. There a speaking program was presided over by Walter Skibinski. The chief speakers were Father Rosiak, former senator Alberic Archambault, Col. Patrick H. Quinn, Stanley Ogrodnik, John Biasik and Theodore Zaborski.

On November 8 of that year a Silver Jubilee Banquet attended by 200 parishioners and guests was held in the church hail. U. S. Senator Felix Herbert represented the nation; Governor Norman S. Case extended greetings from the state of Rhode Island; council presidents George Parker of Coventry and Alfred Richard of West Warwick brought congratulations from the two towns; and Father Stanley Iciek of Norwich, Connecticut, acted as toastmaster.

Without a doubt, the outstanding achievement in Father Rosiak's twelve year pastorate at St. Mary's was the opening of the parish school. This was the crowning event of his many notable achievements and the one that bore the most fruit, The Old Quaker Meeting House purchased from the Quidnick-Windham Manufacturing Company in 1927 was converted into a combination school and convent. Father Rosiak introduced the Felician Sisters of Enheld, Connecticut, into the diocese of Providence, when he arranged to have five sisters staff the school. Then on August 12, 1934, the newly-elevated Bishop of Providence, Francis P. Keough made his second official visit to the Pawtuxet Valley to bless the new school. On that occasion the bishop complimented the pastor and the parishioners on their school and told them that it was appropriate that they should have a place to "foster the language, the virtues and noble traditions of your Polish forefathers."

Father Rosiak was also noted for his work among the youth. He was recognized as a noted promotor of youth activities, especially athletics. His West Ends team of 1925 and St. Mary's team of 1928 won the Pawtuxet Valley Baseball Championship. His basketball teams were champions in 1927, 1928, and 1929 and his soccer team won the championship in 1931.

Father Rosiak was succeeded at St. Mary's by Father Joseph J. Glodzik. Father Glodzik, the son of John and Caroline Glodzik, was born on February 23, 1905 in West Rutland, VT. He was educated for six years at St. Stanislaus' Parochial School and for two years in the public school of the town. In 1920 he entered St. John Kanty College in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he completed his high school courses and one year of college. The rest of his college course, as well as his philosophy and theology was taken at the Polish Seminary at Orchard Lake, Michigan. Bishop William Hickey ordained Father Glodzik on May 30, 1931 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Providence.

After celebrating his first solemn high Mass in his home parish of St. Stanislaus in West Rutland, Father Glodzik received a summer assign- ment to St. Benedict's Parish in Conimicut, RI. In September of that year he was assigned to assist at St. Joseph's Parish in Central Falls, where he remained until his appointment to St. Mary's in October of 1934.

The year 1935 was a busy one for Father Glodzik. In the spring of that year he purchased a school bus to transport about 100 children living in Crompton and the outlying districts. Father Glodzik himself drove the bus. In May the first parish minstrel show was staged. June 13 saw Father presiding at the first graduation exercises at St. Mary's School. During the summer Father inaugurated the first of his many carnivals with their giant raffles, bingoes, band concerts, open-air dancing, etc. During 1935 the church was shingled and the other parish buildings and property improved and beautified.

In 1936 Father Glodzik had Sister Teresala paint the altars, statues and murals in church. In December of that year the Holy Name Society was organized with Vincent Lukowicz being elected president. In addition to organizing the junior and Senior branch of the Holy Name, Father Glodzik also organized the St. Mary's Mothers Society. The Children of Mary, Young Ladies Sodality, St. Vincent de Paul Conference and Rosary Society were all reorganized and re-activated under Father Glodziks direction. An Alumni Association was also formed in January 1939 with Olympia Podgurski being chosen president.

A great day in the history of St. Mary's Parish was August 6, 1939. That was the day that the first young man from the parish to be ordained to the priesthood celebrated his first Solemn High Mass. The young man was Father Stanislaus Kowaiski. He was assisted by a cousin, Father Andrew Bocianski from Mayfield, Pa., as deacon in by the late Father Anthony Czubak of Lonsdale as sub-deacon. Father Glodzik, assisted by Father Andrew Rytcl of Scranton, Pa., was master of ceremonies. The sermon was delivered by Monsignor Stanislaus Szpotanski of Dickson City, PA.

In July of 1942, the exterior of the church was remodeled and renovated with insulated brick butt veneer. Father Glodzik made a personal donation of $300 to help defray the cost of this work. In January, 1947, Father Glodzjk selected Dr. Edward Kostyla to succeed Andrew Pojda as lay trustee of the parish and named Augustus S. Kraus and Joseph Lukowicz auditors of the parish books.

Father Glodzik died of a heart attack on May 10, 1948. This marked the first time that a pastor had died at St. Mary's. However, Bishop Francis P. Keough had been appointed Archbishop of Baltimore on December 3, 1947, and his successor, Bishop Russell J. McVinney, had not yet been consecrated. Therefore, the Vicar General of the diocese, Monsignor Peter Blessing presided at the funeral. Father Walter Rozpad of St. Stanislaus Parish, Woonsocket, RI., offered the funeral Mass, assisted by Father Robert Cassidy as deacon and Father Donat Fagnant as sub-deacon. Father Peter Narewski was master of ceremonies. Father Glodztk's body was laid to rest in West Rutland, VT.

Father Peter Narewski was then appointed administrator of St. Mary's. Father Narewski was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 12, 1920. He received his grammar school education at St. Hedwig's Parochial School. In 1939 he graduated from Salesian High School in Wilmington and entered St. Mary's College, Orchard Lake, MI. Completing his college courses in 1943, he entered SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, also at Orchard Lake. Father Narewski was ordained by Bishop Francis P. Kcough on May 31, 1947, and celebrated his first Solemn High Mass in St. Hedwig's Church, Wilmington, DE, on June 1.

Father Narewski's first assignment was as a curate in St. Joseph's Parish, Central Falls. He served there eleven months until he was appointed to administer St. Mary's Parish. In the two and a half years Father spent in Quidnick, he was very successful in fostering its spiritual and physical growth and development. Among other things he transfered two classes from the church hall to the school annex. He also introduced the weekly budget system, which was instrumental in bringing about a much needed increase in parish income.

In October 1950, Father Narewski was transfered to St. Casimir's Parish in Warren, RI and Father John T. Borek, who had been pastor there for sixteen years came to St. Mary's. Father Borek, the son of John and Tekla (Socha) Borek, was born on All. Souls Day, November 2, 1906, in Lawrence, Mass. He attended public schools in Pawtucket, RI, graduating from Pawtucket High School in 1925. He was a member of the graduating class of 1928 at St. Mary's College, Orchard Lake, Michigan, and completed his four years of theology at SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary at Orchard Lake in 1932. He was ordained on May 21, 1932, by Bishop William Hickey and celebrated his first Solemn High Mass on May 22 in his home parish of St. Joseph's Central Falls. His first assignment was to St. Joseph's, where he served as a curate for two years, until appointed pastor of St. Casimir's Parish in Warren.

In his five years at St. Mary's, Father Borek did an amazing job of improving, modernizing and beautifying the parish property, spending about $50,000 to do so. Two of the tenements in the school annex were converted into two modern class rooms. In 1953 the interior of the church was renovated and redecorated by Prof. Guiclo Nincheri at a cost of $5,300. In addition to the many badly needed repairs and improvements carried out, Father Borek also succeeded in paying off the original debt of the church. On November 30, 1953, the parish became debt free. At the close of the Marian Year, December 8, 1954, a statue of Our Blessed Mother was erected on the parish grounds ata cost of $1000 as a memorial to those boys of the parish who gave their lives for their country during World War II.

In February 1952, Father organized the Parents Group, with Bernadine Kirchmeyer as president. In January 1954, Dr. Thomas Szymkowicz, became a member of the parish corporation when he was appointed to serve with Stanley Zelazny as lay trustee. Edwin Rekas was also named auditor of the parish books to succeed the late Augustus S. Kraus.

May 31, 1953, marked the second time in the history of the parish that one of its young men celebrated his first Solemn High Mass. This time Father Frederick V. Slota was the celebrant. Father Borek assisted as archpriest, Father Narewski as deacon and Father Raymond Sonnek, O.F.M., as sub-deacon. Father John Czerwonka of Fall River preached the sermon.

Shortly after, on June 13, 1953, St. Mary's received its first curate in the person of Father Anthony D. lwuc. With the arrival of Father Iwuc, a fourth Mass on Sundays and Holy Days was added to the parish schedule. When Father Borek suddenly and unexpectedly became, ill in 1955, the administration of the parish fell to Father Iwuc.

Father Iwuc was born on February 25, 1928, in South Attleboro, MA. He was the seventh of ten children born of Bronislaus and Adela (Zamoida) Iwuc. He graduated from St. Joseph's Parochial School in Central Falls in June 1942 and from St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket in June 1945. His first two years of college were taken a Our Lady of Providence Seminary, Warwick Neck, R. I., the lasttwo at St. Mary's College, Orchard, Lake, MI, from which he graduated in 1949. Father Iwuc studied theology for three years at SS Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake and then returned to Our Lady of Providence Seminary as a deacon-prefect for his final year. Ordained by Bishop Russell J. McVinney on May 30, 1953, Father Iwuc celebrated his first Solemn High Mass the following day in St. Joseph's Church, Central Falls.

In 1954, Father Iwuc reorganized the Parent-Educator Group of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. In 1955, a parish Youth Council was formed with Fred Perry as president. In 1956, after discussing the problem with Bishop McVinney, Father Iwuc selected a New School Fund Committee of sixty men and began raising funds for a new school. Now, a year later, the New School Fund stands at $25,000.

These are the highlights in the 50 year history of St. Mary's Parish, Quidnick, RI. The achievements, the steady growth and developments of the past augurs even greater things for the future. The pioneer immigrants worked hard and sacrificed much to establish the parish. It remains for us to work and sacrifice just as much to keep it flourishing. St. Paul once wrote to the parishioners in Corinth, "It was I who planted the seed, it is Apollos who waters it, but it is God who makes it grow" (1 Cor. 3, 6). The pioneer priests and parishioners of St. Mary's parish have planted the seed. If we but water it, God will certainly make it grow.

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Last Updated on October 19, 2011