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St. Adalbert's Basilica - Buffalo NY
A parish history from the 1961 Diamond Jubilee Book
St. Adalbert's Church has its historical background within the limits of St. Stanislaus Parish on Peckham St. With no boundary lines specified, it is presumed that the boundary lines ran at an intersection from Broadway and Fillmore north to Genesee St., thence East to Bailey Avenue.
A group of Polish emigrants applied to the Bishop, Rt. Rev. Stephen V. Ryan, C.M. and received his approval to build a church, on Stanislaus Street. A small frame building was erected by the parishioners themselves. A tract of land comprising 27 lots was bought. The church called then "A LITTLE CHAPEL" was used both for church services and as a school. The first pastor, the Rev. A. Klawiter, said :Mass September 12, 1886 at 10 a.m.
With each ensuing day, the number of Catholics of Polish descent affiliating with the newly established parish, increased. It was therefore necessary to build a much larger church. So on the 8th day of September 1886, ground was broken for an erection of a combination building-church and school. Bishop Ryan blessed its cornerstone on September 30th. The work of designing and constructing the building was given to Pesel arid Co. The new building had a seating capacity of 900 - 700 on the main floor and 200 on the balcony. Its cost including equipment was a little more than $23,000.00.
The last services in "THE LITTLE CHAPEL," which eventually was changed to living quarters for the Sisters, were held on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1887. Completed 'and fully equipped, Bishop Ryan dedicated it on April 24, 1887.
By this time the congregation had 264 families and its first trustees were: Stephen Przybysz, John Piechowiak, and Anthony Lewanclowski. Since there was no Rectory, the pastor lived in the home of Nicolas Ossowski, paying $4.00 a week.
Realizing the future needs of the people, Father Klawiter bought an additional 67 lots (some of which were later sold) on Stanislaus Street, Kosciuszko Street and Rother Avenue from Joseph Bork for a total sum of $4,590.00.
On January 13, 1887 it loan of $20,000.00 was negotiated. With this sum and a few thousand dollars contributed by the parishioners on hand, a combination building and Rectory were built. Unfortunately this frame building was totally destroyed by fire January 26. 1889. Fire insurance coverage amounted to $6,000.00.
This unfortunate event and an unfriendly attitude on the part of some of the parishioners caused the resignation of Father Klawiter on December 11, 1889. The parish was left without a pastor and no church. For the time being services were held again in "THE LITTLE CHAPEL."
A new pastor, Rev. Martin Mozejewsk i, a missionary from Poland, began his work on March 12, 1890. Immediate steps were taken to build a new church. Huber & Co. were hired to make plans for the construction of this new church which was to cost $60,000.00. The original plans called for a Byzantine architecture but later was changed by Father A. Lex to Romanque. Its structure is of brick and its dimensions are the following: 240 feet high. 118 feet wide, nave 70 feet high, two towers 150 feet high and a dome 40 feet wide and soaring 125 feet above the main nave - all in all making it the largest church in Western New York State. The total cost without furnishings or equipment amounted to $63,000.00.
Father Mozejewski's position as pastor in the parish was of short duration. Due to ill health and hampered by dissentions among his parishioners, he resigned as pastor and in his place Bishop Ryan appointee! Father A. Lex.
Although his position was a difficult one. he finished the work of his predecessor and the church building was completed. Bishop Ryan solemnly dedicated it July 12, 1891.
This was a festive and glorious day for all the Catholics on the East Side. A great throng of people, including both the church and national societies - four from St. Adalbert's parish, four from St. Stanislaus, one from Mother of Sorrows and one from St. Ann's participated in this solemn occasion. The sermon was preached by the Rev. V. Zareczny, pastor of Assumption parish.
A year after the dedication of the church, Father Lex resigned and on June 28, 1892, by order of the Bishop, Rev. V. Zareczny became pastor. His tenure of office was also of short duration, and Father Thomas Flaczek succeeded him.
Assuming his pastorate duties March 10, 1895, Father Flaczek found the parish much larger in membership but the task of governing it was much more difficult due to disturbances caused by a group of ill-contented and distrustful members. These were instrumental in founding an Independent Polish National Church on Sobieski Street. There was a time when he was forced to make his abode outside of the parish premises and to say Mass in St. Stanislaus Church. It was a sad development but with the dissenters' withdrawal order was restored in St. Adalbert and July 27, 1895, Father Flaczek returned and began in earnest to do God's work.
In 1898 under his guiding supervision, the plaster work on the interior walls of the church tinged in greyish color was finished and new pews were bought for a total sum of $3,000.00.
Undaunted in the most trying circumstances and firm in his convictions, he forged ahead. In 1901 a new and spacious Rectory facing Stanislaus Street was bunt, for the amount of $20,000.00. In 1905 the construction of a new school building was started and in 1906 was ready for use. Fully equipped it involved a cost amounting to $90,000.00. The left wing is used as living quarters by the Sisters.
True as it may be that Father Flaczek was a builder in the material sense, yet his main concern was to see his people advance in piety and to be steadfast in their faith. And so, in order to bring the erring back to the fold, on every Wednesday, he inaugurated the public recitation of the Rosary. On returning from a trip abroad, he brought with him a crown ornamented with precious stones, which, placed in a glass encasement over the statue of the Blessed Virgin, gives luster of beauty to the church and enhances devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa.
In evaluating his past accomplishment, it must be said that the year 1907 was marked with a distinctive event. Acquiescing to Bishop Colton's petition, His Holiness Pope Pius X, by an authenticated document, had adjoined the Church of St. Adalbert to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, thereby granting "in perpetuo" the privilege of enjoying all the indulgences and spiritual favors which the Vatican Basilica enjoys.
Realizing that the end of his life's journey was approaching, 31 years of which were spent in the service of St. Adalbert's parish, as a mark of priestly benevolence, he left in his will and testament a substantial sum of money designated for the purchase of a marble altar, a monstrance ornate with precious stones, a chalice and a ciborium.
In 1924, two years before his death, the interior of the Basilica was decorated by a vourig artist, Joseph Mazur, for a sum of $22,000.00.
Father Thomas Flaczek died August 23, 1926.
Succeeding Father Flaczek, the Rev. Francis Kaluzny, D.D. was placed in charge of the parish as pastor September 11, 1926.
During Father Kaluzny's administration the new main altar of marble and mosaic were installed and the sanctuary enlarged to receive it. The altar-a composition of yellow Sienna, Tavarnelle, Chiarro, Biancho and Lapis Lazuli marble, intermixed with mosaic cost $14,000.00.
Incapacitated by ill health, Father Kaluzny resigned from his pastorate, and the Rev. Francis Radziszewski was appointed pastor April 3, 1940 by Most Rev. John A. Duffy, Bishop of Buffalo.
Father Radziszewski made extensive repairs on all the buildings during his administr ation. In 1940, a new heating system was installed in the church for the sum of $13,000.00. Pews were replaced and the church floor was covered with asphalt tile. A new organ was purchased. In 1949 the electrical system was replaced. And the interior of the church was redecorated and renovated by Joseph Mazur for a total sum of $29,000.00.
The Rectory building likewise needed attention. The parcel of land on which the Rectory stands was once covered with water, forming a pond. It was later filled with soil and rock
leaving a depth of twenty-five feet, three different layers of greyish, soft clay. It was on such a land thus reclaimed that the Rectory and school were built. As a result, the building began to sag, and if this condition would last for any length of time, it would ultimately collapse. To avoid such eventuality, the foundation on which it rests was reinforced.
Repairs were also made to the school building. The roof was rebuilt with new material and new copper gutters were placed at the eaves. All this cost $30,000.00.
Father Radeiszewski was replaced by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Maximilian Bogacki on August 27, 1957, 'after Msgr. Radziszewski was transferred as pastor of St. John Kanty Church.
During the four years Msgr. Bogacki was Pastor, he has made extensive repairs decor atingand furnishing the rectory, modernizing the school kitchen and lower hall in the school building. He also improved the envelope system, census cards and parish records.
Always interested in the liturgical and Gregorian chant, he has given special attention to training the children, choir and parishioners in Mass participation.
On Sunday, September 3, 1961, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Maximilian Bogacki was installed as Pastor of Assumption Church.
Rev. Joseph J. Stelmach was installed as Pastor of St. Adalbert's Basilica on Wednesday, September 6, 1961.
Father Stelmach came from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Niagara Falls, New York where he served thirteen years as pastor. Before his pastorate in Niagara Falls, he spent twenty-three years as assistant in St. John Kanty Parish in Buffalo. His close association with the people has made for a friendly atmosphere which in turn created a spirit of cooperation between the pastor and his flock. In the very short time that he has been with St. Adalbert's people he has made many repairs and improvements on both the interior and exterior of the church. There is a beautiful new carpet in the sanctuary, all kneelers were reupholstered, statues were redecorated, altar candlesticks were gold - finished, also gold finished were the cross above the tabernacle, monstrance and ciborium. The Stations of the Cross were completely renovated.
With the support given Father Stelmach by his parishioners he was able to do extensive repairs as repainting of the church vestibule, sacristies, outside doors, outside domes and repairing of the church roof. The falling plaster in spots inside the church was completely repaired and naves redecorated. Even the central cross between the twin spires now gleams with new 23 karat gold leaf.
And thus, all was in readiness for the eight day diamond jubilee celebration which began with a Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by His Excellency, the Most Rev. Joseph A. Burka, D.D., at 12 noon Sunday, December 3, 1961.
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Last Updated on February 24, 2012