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St. Adalbert's Parish - Staten Island, NY

A parish history from the 1951 Golden Jubilee Book

Pior to the establishment of St. Adalbert's Parish, the Poles living in Staten Island, attended St. Stanislaus Church in lower Manhattan, as most of them had resided there before settling on Staten Island. In the course of time, with the steady influx of Poles, the need of a Polish Roman Catholic Church on the Island became quite urgent.

In the year 1897, a small group met under the leadership of the late Stanislaus Jakubowski for the purpose of organizing a Polish Church. An undertaking of this nature, especially in those early days, was confronted with great difficulties and obstacles. This was especially true where the people attempted to organize a church without the leadership and guidance of a priest. At that time, the number of Polish priests was limited to such an extent that there was hardly one priest for each Parish. However, the Church authorities and particularly the late Archbishop Michael Corrigan were most favorably disposed to the establishment of Polish Parishes wherever the need and circumstances warranted it

The chief obstacles arose mainly from disagreements amongst the organizers, largely as to the selection of the site on which the new Church was to be built. This was brought about by the fact that the Poles resided in various sections of the Island, i. e., Port Richmond, Elm Park, New Brighton, Stapleton and Travis. Consequently this initial effort to organize a Parish was abandoned and the contributions made by various individuals were returned to the donors.

After an interval of some time, they reorganized in February of 1901 at which gathering the minutes of the proceedings were recorded by the Secretary of the meeting, the late Stanislaus Szczecinski, which read as follows:

On February 3, 1901, a group met at Standard Hall, Elm Park, for the purpose of organizing the Parish of St. Adalbert, B. M. Mr. Peter Bolewicz called the meeting to order and besought those present to give due consideration to the establishment of the Polish Roman Catholic Church of St. Adalbert. Fellow parishioners, he stated, it is my duty and privilege to inform you that there is one present who has dedicated his whole heart and soul to the Church and has expressed his intention of making a great offering to the Parish. His contribution is this: He offers 4 lots located on John street, Port Richmond, for the construction of a Church. The gathering received this announcement with great enthusiasm and wished immediately to know the identity of the donor. Mr. Bolewicz announced that the donor was our fellow citizen, Mr. John Mojecki.* The parishioners accepted the offering with the familiar Polish expression, "Bog Zaplac", (May God Reward You). At the suggestion of Mr. Bolewicz the gathering proceeded to elect a permanent committee. The following officers were then unanimously nominated and elected.

*John Mojecki, son of Joseph and Katherine, nee Weber, was born in the Village of Kozuszkowo, in the Province of Poznan, Poland, on November 25th, 1865. Later John was raised in Wojcin where he attended school. At the age of 17 he immigrated to America, living in Mauchchunk, Pennsylvania. In 1888 he permanently settled in Elm Park, staten Island, New York. For a time he worked in a flour mill. Later he started his own grocery store, and engaged in 0ther enterprises, E. G., Building-Contractor, coal-yard, laundry business, etc. He did not accumulate wealth. Towards himself he was parsimonious, but extra-ordinarily liberal to many charitable causes. Not only did he support his own Church with many generous contributions, but also magnanimously sponsored many charitable, civic and national appeals. Prompted by charity from his early days up to the present he was known for his beneficence. May the Lord grant him a blessed and peaceful old age, before he is called unto his eternal reward.

John Mojecki - President
Francis Nowicki - Vice-President
Hypolit Blaszkiewicz - Financial Secretary
Stanislaus Szczecinski - Recording Secretary
 Valentine Bloch - Treasurer
John Mojecki and Peter Bolewicz were elected Trustees
(both of whom were later approved by the Bishop.)

John Mojecki opened his tenure of office by leading the gathering in the recitation of Our Father and Hail Mary. He then stated that it would be inadvisable to transact any further business until Father John H. Strzelecki, Pastor of St. Stanislaus Church in Manhattan was contacted for his advice and guidance. Fifty-three members enrolled at this meeting."

From that memorable day, the formation of the Parish progressed harmoniously and successfully. At the next meeting approximately fifteen additional families enrolled and the membership continued to increase at succeeding meetings. On June 2, 1901, Rev. John H. Strzelecki presided and announced that the Parish had been legally incorporated in the State of New York under the title of the Polish Roman Catholic Church of St. Adalbert, B. M., the governing body consisting of, the Archbishop as President, the Vicar-General as Vice-President, the Pastor as Secretary-Treasurer and two Trustees.

The final general organizational meeting took place on October 6, 1901, and shortly thereafter, the Rev. Michael Slupek was appointed the first resident Pastor. Father Slupek conducted the first Divine Services for the Poles in Staten Island on October 20, 1901.

On this memorable day Father Slupek wrote. as follows in the Parish records:

"IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

On the 20th of October 1901, Father Michael Slupek offered the first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the Poles in Staten Island, in the basement of the parish hall of St. Mary's Church, Port Richmond, S. I. with the permission of His Excellency Archbishop Michael Augustine Corrigan. That evening at a general meeting held on the donated property on John Street, President John Mojecki presented the sum of $903.00 for the Church treasury which Father Slupek accepted from Trustees John Mojecki and Peter Bolewicz. Treasurer, Valentine Bloch, deposited the funds in a financial institution."

The development of the Parish progressed rapidly from that time on. The cornerstone of the Church was laid on December 29, 1901, and several months later the new Church was erected. For a time being thereafter, the. Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated in the basement of the new Church.

Father Slupek kept the Parish records in an exemplary manner during his pastorate. Every item of income and expense was meticulously recorded in the financial records. At that time the income was not very large, in fact it was very small. For instance, the total Church income for the month of October 1902, amounted to $92.67 of which $52.05 represented door offerings and $40.62 in collections. In November of 1902, rather Slupek decided to give up the Parish. For a period of two weeks, the Parish was without a Pastor. On Sundays, the late Father J. Zaniewicz came from St. Stanislaus Church to celebrate Mass.

At that time, the late Rev. Joseph Dworzak, Pastor of St. Valentine's Church, Bronx, NY left for a visit to Poland. His Excellency the Archbishop appointed the newly ordained priest, Rev. Joseph Brzoziewski as administrator of that Parish. Upon Father Dworzak's return Father Brzoziewski was appointed Pastor of St. Adalbert's Church, Staten Island.

On his arrival, Father Brzoziewski was introduced to the Trustees and several Parishioners by the Fathers Strzelecki and Zaniewicz. On Sunday, November 30,1902, the new Pastor was greeted with enthusiasm by the parishioners. This spirit of the people gave the new Pastor great confidence from the outset and for many years later.

Father Brzoziewski found  a Church building, the exterior of which had been completed, a treasury consisting of $187.14 and a debt of $1,241.99. In the following few months altars and pews were installed as well as a central heating system. On May 3, 1903, to the profound joy of the parishioners the Blessing of the Church took place. From that day on the Divine Services were conducted in a fitting edifice. Shortly after the Dedication of the Church, the parishioners were both saddened and aroused by the announcement that the new Pastor was to be transferred to the Pastorate of St. Valentine's Church, Bronx, N. Y. After several anxious days, the Archbishop rescinded the transfer.

While the Parish had a Church building it lacked a Rectory. Later a home next to the Church was purchased from Mr. Mojecki for $2,000 and still later another adjoining building was purchased from Mrs. Worth for the sum of $2,300. A rectory was established in one of these homes and the other was later to house the Felician Order of Sisters. A parochial school was opened in the basement of the Church in the Fall of 1905. In the following years classes were conducted in a modest building attached to the Church. All of these buildings served the Parish needs up to the year 1921.

About the year 1908, the Polish-Slovak colony in Linoleumville (Travis) five miles distant from the Church in Elm Park, increased to about 100 families and about 40 mixed families. There was no Church in the area and the means of transportation were very poor and difficult. In consultation with the Spiritual Authorities, we decided to build a Church there. The Poles residing there were not in favor of this move, arguing that there was not a sufficient number of them to maintain a Church. However, in about two years a Church with a basement hall was erected. Several months after the Dedication of the Church, His Excellency the Archbishop, appointed Rev. John Suchy as Pastor of the new Parish on the recommendation of Father Joseph Brzoziewski. He was later succeeded by the Rev. Ignacy Bialdyga and several other priests. Subsequently the present Pastor, Rev. Andrew Gryguc was appointed Pastor. Father Gryguc has served the St. Anthony Parish of Travis most competently for the past thirty years.

In the course of a decade the Parish of St. Adalbert grew in numbers with the result that both the Church and School were no longer adequate to its needs. It was not only a question of inadequate and overcrowded buildings but also the lack of space for the needed expansion. At the time there was available a suitable plot of land consisting of three acres and a home located on the easterly side of Morningstar Road. Following due deliberation and consultation with the Trustees and with the consent of the Archdiocesan Consultors, it was decided to purchase this parcel for the sum of $14,000. However, it was much easier to purchase the property than to transfer the Parish from one site to another. This matter took several years. At that particular time World War I broke out and our parishioners became absorbed in supporting the War Effort as well as alleviating the needs of their war-ridden brethren in their native Poland. In this regard the Poles of Staten Island contributed over $30,000 to the Central Committee in Chicago for the Aid to Poland.

Meanwhile the Church was free of all debt and about $40,000 was on hand for the building of the new Church. Having acquired the property and approximately one-half of the necessary funds, ground was broken for the combination Church and School building. The cost of this project approximated $100,000. The construction of separate buildings would have entailed too heavy a burden for the Parish. On November 13, 1921, the Dedication of the new Church took place. This building serves the Parish up to the present day.

In 1923, another great change took place in the Parish, as for several years, Poles had been settling in New Brighton in large numbers. Prior to the First World War, a petition was forwarded by Father Brzoziewski on behalf of the residents of that community for permIssion to establish a Polish Parish in New Brighton. The committee was informed at the time to postpone any action of this nature until after the cessation of hostilities. While the new Church in Elm Park was in the course of construction a delegation of representatives from New Brighton called on Father Brzoziewski and asked whether or not he had any objections to their plans and whether they could enlist his aid. He promptly replied that he did not have any objections whatsoever, but, could not offer his aid while he was busily engaged with the construction of a new Church in his own Parish. The committee then proceeded with their plans and immediately encountered considerable opposition as a result of the sites which they had selected for the erection of the Church. Finally the Archbishop requested Father Brzoziewski to take this matter into his hands which he agreed to do on the condition that there would be no further obstacles as to the location of the Church. Inasmuch as the opposition continued unabated Father Brzoziewski recommended that the Bishop appoint a Polish Priest as Pastor to organize the Parish. The Bishop later appointed the late Rev. John A. Gloss as Pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka R. C. Church, who organized the Parish and erected a Church. Father Gloss died suddenly in 1945 and was succeeded by the Rev. Stanislaus Malinowski, who was well known on Staten Island, as he had heretofore served as an assistant for eight years at St. Adalbert's Parish.

Father Malinowski has displayed evidence of great financial ability as in six years time, the large debt of the St. Stanislaus Parish has been liquidated and at present funds are being raised to erect a Parochial School.
As a result of the second division of St. Adalbert's Parish, several hundred families remain in its fold, although many now reside in various parts of Staten Island. Nevertheless it can be justly said that the Parish is in good financial condition. It has practically every facility that a Parish requires: A Church, A Parochial School, A Beautiful Home for the Sisters, A Large Parish Hall, a suitable Rectory and extensive grounds. Its parishioners may well take deep pride in the fact that while at times the Parish may have been in debt, it has never had any mortgages of any kind on any at its properties at any time.

For all this to whom should we be grateful?

First, to Almighty God for all the graces he has bestowed upon us, for it is written in the book of Psalms, "Unless the Lord buildeth a House they labor in vain, who build it."

To you, dear Parishioners, and your parents both living and dead who brought with them from their native Poland the priceless treasures of your Holy Faith and loyalty to the Catholic Church ... For your generosity, cooperation and your confidence in the administration of the Parish.

To the Trustees .tor their many years of unselfish service and wholehearted cooperation with your Pastor.

The efforts and accomplishments of the pioneers of our Parish are selfevident. The future development and progress of st. Adalbert's Parish now depends largely upon the loyalty and zeal of the present and future generations.

The greatest consolation to your Pastor of man] years has been the confidence, cooperation and complete harmony which has existed in our Parish throughout its entire half century of existence.

For all this ... Glory and Praise be given to God the Father Almighty, The Blessed Virgin Mary and our Patron, Saint Adalbert.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011