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Sacred Heart of Mary - Weirton WV
A brief parish history from the 1936 Jubilee Book
It is difficult to write an accurate history of the first settlement of the Polish people of Weirton, because unfortunately we have no written accounts of those early days. Such information as we possess has been gathered from the recollections of some of the early settlers, who are still with us. From them we learn, that the first implus of Polish people to this district occured in the year 1909. They came from many sections of the United States, where they had previously settled, attracted by the prospect of work in the Phillips Sheet and Tin Plate Co.,then being established on the site of the present town of Weirton. Many were the difficulties encountered by these pioneers due to lack of proper housing etc.
These Catholic workers felt the need of a Church. As their members were augmented by the coming of other Catholic workers of various nationalities the need became more acute. The matter was now given very earnest consideration, officials of the Company consulted, meeting of the Catholic people held and plans laid. In 1910 the Phillips Sheet and Tin Plate Co., gave three lots as its donation towards the building of the first Catholic Church at Weirton. Fortunately at this time, the Most Rev. Bishop Donahue was able to send the new settlers a priest- in the person of Rev. Father Madert, - who could converse with them in their different tongues. The progress of building up the Church and Parish was now hampered only by lack of funds. In the emergency they sold one of the lots donated by the Company, and with the money obtained and with what was already collected, they were able, early in the year 1911 to erect a small Church. It was named St. Peter and Paul's. - Father Madert assigned to other duties, was succeeded at Weirton by a Polish Priest Father Stanley Przybysz. During his past orate Chapters of the Polish National Alliance and of the Polish Roman Catholic Union, were formed. The next priest of whom we have record as serving the Catholics at Weirton is Rev. Father Lo Monaco who took charge of the parish during the Year 1914. B 1915 it was felt that as the Polish people grew in number they should have a separate Parish with a priest of their own nationality in charge. Father M. Pawloski was the first pastor of the new Polish Parish. At the same time Father A. D. McSwiggain became Pastor of the newly formed English speaking Parish.
In 1916 the present Pastor Rev. A. Wilczek took charge of the Polish Parish. It had now became a well organized working unit. And under Fr. Wilczelc's able and zealous care the Polish parish has grown and flourished. The Parish is dedicated to Our Lady under the title of Sacred Heart of Mary. Two Societies accountable for so much good in the parish were organized by Father Wilczek. They are The Society of Holy Rosary and the Sodality of the Children of Mary. They are still in flourishing condition.
The end of the World War gave a new impetus to the growth of this Parish. The war left Poland in so devastating condition and with so uncertain future that the older people had no longer much desire to return and settle there. They had grown too to love this land of their adoption. And naturally their children born and bred on the soil loved America first. So in increasing number they began to purchase building sites and erect homes, and the foreign born became naturalized.
Two new organizations sprang up about this time - The Chopin Lodge of the Polish National Alliance and a Chapter of the Polish Women's. Alliance. A Polish Band was organized too and liberally financed by the Weirton Steel Corporation.
As the little Church on the Ave. A. became inadequate for the needs of the growing Congregation, the Corporation again showed its good will in a practical and generous way. Thru its generous aid the property on Ave. F. where the present Church and School stands, was purchased. Indeed to the actual erection of these buildings the Company generously contributed also, thru the kindly offices of Mr. J. C. Williams and Mr. F. A. Hannifin.
The whole spirit of our people at this time was most praiseworthy, as they so generously contributed of their time and substance for the upbuilding of the Parish. Yet when our joy should be greatest a very heavy sorrow came as death took from us our beloved Shepherd Most Rev. P. J. Donahue. To him we had learned to turn in the many vicissitudes necessarily incident to the forming and developing of the Parish. Always we found him understanding, helpful, generous, a true Father and Shepherd of the Flock. But the kind Providence was to give us a Bishop no less zealous and kindly in the person of the Most Rev. J. J. Swint the present Bishop of Wheeling By his kindly counsel and help we were spurred on to even greater efforts for the building up of the Kingdom of God in our midst.
Striking reference to the splendid spirit of our Parish at this time will be found in the History of West Virginia Vol. III, rage 258, The First School Report of the Diocese of Wheeling, Weirton Times, October 26, 1928.
As Poles and Americans we can feel justly proud of the part played by Sacred' Heart of Mary Parish in securing the proclamation of Pulaski Day. The following letter is evidence of our work in this matter:
Carl G. Bachmann
1st Dist. W. Va.
House of Representatives U. S.
Office of Republican Whip
Washington, U. U.
December 19, 1932
Reverend Andrew Wilczek
Weirton, West Virginia
Dear Reverend Wilczek:
I am pleased to send you herewith copy of House Joint Resolution 482, which I introduced December 5, 1932, directing the President of the United States of America to proclaim October 11 of each year General Pulaski Memorial 'Day for the observance and commemoration of the death of Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and much happiness
in the New Year, I am
CARL G. BACHMANN.
The depression has wrought great hardship on the Polish people of Weirton. Only thru heroic sacrifice on the, part of the people, Sisters and Priest has the work of the Parish been carried on. Now brighter days are dawning when we hope to see the wonderful spirit live again, which animated us all in the happy days which saw the completion of our Church. - "Forgetting the 'things that are behind let us look forward to the things that, are before." Bearing one another's burdens we shall fulfill the Law of Christ.
Srebrnego Jubileuszu Par. Najsl. Serca P. Marji w Weirton
Ks. A. Wilezek, prob. - piezes honorowy
J. Hertnik, wiceprezes
J. Jurek, sekretarz
J. Wojdyla, pomocnik sekretarza
Latkiewicz, J. Ry:bka, J. Jedruszek, C. Cwiklik, J. Mazurowski, H. Fijewski, E. Zamojski, A. Rzepka, H. Sierszynski, St. Cebula, W. Kazienko, St. Wtorkowski, T. Schodziñski, J. Sikora, A. Kasica, Fr. Rybka.
Z. Fusiek, W. Zagula, J. Sagan, K. Przybysz, W. Sikora, M. Cwiczynska, K. Czerepak, W. Mosiejewska, A. Mesler, A. Sudol.
KOMITET FINANSOWY PAMIETNIKA
P. Zamojska, E. Schwarten, S. Cwiczynska.
M. Gil, T. Olszewski, J. Jedruszek, M. Dziatkowicz, P. Kazienko, Fr. Trzaskoma P. Gryszko, J. Kostka, St. Sobieraj, T. Gronczewski
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