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St. Joseph Parish - Webster MA

A short parish history from the 1962 Diamond Jubilee Book

The Poles began to emigrate to the Americas, and in large numbers to the United States, after the final partition of their native land and after the failure to win independence in 1863. They came here to escape the oppression imposed upon them by their enemies, to improve their lot and to enjoy the freedom as well as the opportunity this country offered them.
 
Some of these who came to the United States settled permanently in New York. Many went deeper into the country. A number of these reached the town of Webster and became active members of the community.
 
According to the town records of 1862 the name of Herman Pawlowski is entered as a taxpayer. This fact makes him the officially established first Polish resident of Webster. The first children of Polish descent born in this town were: Louis Pawlowski b. March 17, 1862, Anna Pawlowska b. May 3, 1863 and Alexander Szymanski b. September 3, 1865. The first weddings took place among the following: Joseph Reglinski and Frances Kreft in 1871, N epomucen Sikorski and Casimira Kruzewska, W. Janakowski and Antonina Kreft in the same period. Among the first to die in the new land were the three year old daughter of the Reminski family, December 26, 1865 and Josephine Frawidynska, aged 25, June 21, 1874. The earliest families to settle permanently in Webster were the Kreft, Pokraka, Paradowski, Reglinski, Borzestowski, Brzezniak, Ignasiak, Krystofiak, Kullas, Lubowsczcyk, Malinowski, Rezner, Santor, Klejman, Szymanski, Woznicki, Wilda, Gorski, Zurawka, Brylowski, Aleksandrowicz, Bembenek, Biskup, Dudek, J anakowski, Kasienowski, Kasprzak, Makowski, Okupniak, Sikorski, Szymowski, Radzik, Wieloch, Gowinas, Zatorski, Monckiewicz, Gawronski, Buretta, Czechowicz, Glijka, Kozlowski, Kloss, J anczewski, Lechert, Pakulski, Stochaj, Stozyna, Stefaniak, Teclaw, Wroblewski, Gapski, Chlapowski, Gogolinski, Kubiak and Zielinski.

These settlers were a Catholic people and so they sought to fulfill their religious and moral obligations. They attended Holy Mass at St. Louis Church, but they did not understand the English language and so were unable to partake of all the services and privileges which the Roman Catholic Church renders its faithful. Father James Quan, the incumbent pastor of St. Louis parish, earnestly cared for their welfare and at least twice a year obtained the services of Father Marcinkowski, a Polish priest from Brooklyn. The infrequent appearance of a priest who could address the Word of God to them in their own language was so touching an event in their lives that it moved them to tears and as
many relate "they were wont to cry like children when they saw him and heard him speak to them after their own fashion." Each visit awoke a new hope in them.

When the settlement grew to include over seventy families and many single individuals, Father Marcinkowski advised to build their own parish. To this they responded with joy and a committee was organized to bring this about. John Stochaj was elected president, Joseph Reglinski, treasurer, and Josephine Paradowska, secretary. The chosen trustees were J. Sikorski, N. Kasprzak and W. Iczakowski. The first collectors were August Bembenek, John Kozlowski, S. Stanek and Felix Wojciechowski. They taxed themselves two dollars per month. When their financial status permitted they bought land on Whitcomb Street, whereon to build their church, for it was said that this spot was a chosen one for the House of God. An old woman used to pray there fervently; an old stone was known to lie there on which the moss had grown in the form of a Cross. To them these were signs and there they would build.

A committee of three, Joseph Reglinski, Joseph Pokraka and Josephine Paradowska, then went to Bishop P. T. O'Reilly of the Springfield Diocese for permission to build the church. Their quest was cordially granted by the Bishop, who admitted their small numbers but told them to build with the help of God.

Now only the financial obstacle remained. A wooden church would cost $2,700.00, not including accessory costs. The treasury contained only $900.00. The Bishop supplied the needed balance with a loan. The men in the parish agreed to work cooperatively and a fine of 40 cents was charged to any member each time he failed to appear; thus the foundations of the church were laid, and the corner stone was blessed on Aug. 14, 1887. Mr. Corbin was then contracted as builder and Joseph Reglinski served as architect. The church was completed and soon after the rectory. On April 1, 1888 Bishop Patrick T, O'Reilly blessed the Church and the Rectory.
 
To obtain the services of a priest in command of the Polish language, a request was sent to Father Joseph Dabrowski, the founder and then rector of the Polish Seminary of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Detroit, Mich. Such a candidate was obtained in the person of Father Francis Chalupka, though a sum of $600.00 had to be paid for his tuition at the Seminary. This money was collected in two weeks and among the largest offerings were separate $100.00 gifts by three Americans, Messers. George Tracey, John W. Dobbie and Louis E. Pattison. With the financial obstacles removed, Father Chalupka came and celebrated the first Mass April 1st, 1889. Joseph Paradowski and Theodore Bembenek served at this first Mass; Charles Gelenau was the organist and August Sikorski was the sexton. The choir included the following members: Joseph Woznicki, Michael Stefaniak, - Chojnacki, Mary Eppa, Catherine Janczewska, Josephine Kozlowska, and Francis Kraus, This event was further blessed by gifts, a statue of the Holy Mother from Father Marcinkowski and a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a bell from the youth of the newly organized parish.

Father Chalupka, though a Czech, spoke the Polish language well and devoted himself to his flock. Here he patterned himself after the historic St. Adalbert, a Czech too, who was the first apostle among the Poles.
 
Father Chalupka soon paid off the debts of the parish and bought land for the parish school. This was opened in Sept. 1892 with four Felician Sisters as teachers. By 1906, 500 children were in attendance at this school. Among the first pupils were Victoria Teelaw, Pauline Belgrim, Agnes Chuda, Joseph Paradowski, Matilda Reglinska, Anthony Rezner, Mary Zatorska, Stanislaus Marszal, Joseph Chudy, Josephine Kozlowska, Catherine Chuda, Felix Reglinski and others.
 
In the first year of his arrival Father Chalupka bought land for a parish cemetery on Worcester Road.

In 1888 Valerian and Louis Kreft organized a band and its first recitals were given at the church auditorium. Later this group built its own hall on Clark Street.
 
Also in 1888, the first mission was given by Jesuit Fathers and on this occasion the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus was established. The following year the St. Joseph Fraternal Society began to function.

The first homes built in the parish were those of Alexander Kreft and Joseph Reglinski on Whitcomb Street in 1875, of John Kreft on Granite Street in 1880, of Joseph Reglinski on Whitcomb Street in 1881. The Malinowski and the Struzynski families built their homes on Poland Street in the same period.
 
In 1895 Father Chalupka was transferred to the newly organized Polish St. Stanislaus Parish in Chicopee. In the meantime, other pastors served at St. Joseph's Parish. These were: Fathers Stanislaus Laczynski, Wenceslaus Lenz and the Franciscan Fathers. Tarnowski, Czelusniak, Bok and Jaskulski. In 1902 Father Chalupka returned to Webster, where he remained for six years more.
 
The St. Joseph's Society numbered 450 members in 1902. Following certain misunderstandings they divided into three groups, and one of these broke away to organize its own National Church in 1903, while the two remaining parties remained with St. Joseph's Parish. These are known as the St. Joseph's Society and the Society of King John Sobieski. As a result of this Father Chalupka resigned from the parish and in 1908 Father M. Kopytkiewicz was installed as pastor. He remained for two years.
 
In January of 1910 Father Anthony Cyran was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's Parish. His youthfulness and energy in cooperation with the enthusiastic support of his people resulted in many concrete achievements. In the year of his arrival the convent for the Felician Sisters was built. By 1914 a new church was completed. In 1924 the new school was finished and the number of pupils reached 1090 as the school year opened; at this event Bishop O'Leary of Springfield officiated. Finally, Father Cyran was responsible for the building of the new rectory. One must readily admit that Father Cyran came to a parish built of wood and left it molded in brick.
 
Father Cyran's devotion to his calling resulted in his promotion as a Monsignor by His Holiness Pope Pius the Eleventh; this was received as a great honor by the parish and by the Poles of New England. It was the first distinction of this nature bestowed upon the Poles in New England. Unfortunately the many years of hard labor had exhausted Msgr. Cyran, and he died September 14, 1933.

For the two following years the parish was administered by the curate, Father John Klekotka.

In July 1935, Bishop O'Leary appointed Rev. Dr. Andrew Lekarczyk, then in charge of the Sacred Heart Parish in Easthampton, Mass., as pastor of St. Joseph's Parish. Father Lekarczyk immediately set to work with good will and enthusiasm. Although he has been pastor for only two years and during a period of difficult economic stress and unemployment, he was able to complete repairs in the parish plant and to reduce the parish debt by several thousand dollars. In addition, he purchased twenty-five more acres of land for the cemetery on Worcester Road.

The value of the parish property is now in the vicinity of one half million dollars. The outstanding debt does not exceed 30 per cent of this value.
 
It remains to mention the assistant priests who have participated in the growth of St. Joseph's Parish. These were: Fathers Conlin, Kubec, Kielbasinski, Lenz, Krzywda, Polawski, Lipka, Szczukowski, Meleniewski, Hanyz, Stanczyk, Rys, Nasiatka, Wieloch, Mieczkowski, Kuszaj, and Oszajca. At present Father Lekarczyk's assistants are Fathers C. Chwalek and T. Janeczek.

The parish is proud of the number of sons it has given to the Roman Catholic Church. These are: Father Santor, a Franciscan, and Fathers Chlapowski, Teclaw, Wieloch, Szczepaniak, Kokocinski, Radzik, Maciejewski, Sitkowski, Lewandowski and Kochanowski.

To further the cause of Roman Catholic Education the parish gave seventy-two nuns.

Among the lay parish members who have obtained higher degrees are Drs. Stochaj, Piasta, Szwarc, Zurawka, Lawyer Jablonski and Engineer Kleczka. Many others have received college and commercial training. Over twenty young women have nursing degrees.

The parish has a number of laymen in business. Among the first to embark upon a business enterprise was W. Kreft, a grocer, and other fields were successfully exploited by Messers. Kulas, Hub, Marszalek, Jeziorski and others of later date. Polish farmers number in the vicinity of fifty. The Polish community also has a casket factory, two spinning factories, two soda factories, one fire insurance agency, three funeral directors, a major interest in the Webster Credit Union, tailor shops, boot shops, barbershops, a hand printing press, four automobile dealers and candy stores.

The first members of the parish to receive their citizenship papers were Joseph Pokraka in 1878, Joseph Jezewski in 1879, John Struzyna in 1879, and August Szymanski in 1880.

In the political field the activities of the Poles were numerous. Joseph Szymkowski was the first policeman, John Makowski, assessor, John Borski, road commissioner, Dr. Joseph Stochaj, selectman. For the year 1937 the following individuals participate in town and government office: John Iwaszczyn is chairman of the board of selectmen, Stephan Bardy and Robert Wajer are road commissioners. Casimir Sczepanski is on the school board, Dr. Anthony Szwarc, health commissioner, Alexander Starzec, town cemetery and commissioner of parks, W. Kozlowski, assessor, Leo Pinarski, sewer commissioner, John Klos, police sergeant, Frank Kokocinski, Anthony Hojnacki, Stanislaus Biadasz, John Zmetra, Joseph Czechowski, Joseph Kulas, policemen. S. Prokuski and Victor Szwarc work in the post office. There are other members of the parish on the fire department and in lesser town positions.

The parish youth has always interested itself in American sports from various ball teams to boxing. Special attention can be referred to Aniela Twardzik, who holds her own on a man's baseball team. In the present year there are three baseball nines in the parish: the Z. P. R. K., the Boosters, and the St. Joseph's A.C.

The parish members did not restrict themselves to local activities, they took active part in the national problems of this country and of Poland in time of need. The World War found 250 Polish boys in the American army, a number of these did not return. Over 100 went to France to join the Polish army. Two thousand dollars were sent to Poland directly for relief and about twenty five thousand dollars to Chicago to aid the National Fund for Polish Freedom. Polish bonds were bought in the sum of fifty thousand dollars and American Liberty bonds for one hundred thousand dollars.
 
The following list contains the societies connected with the Parish. The feminine organizations include: the Society of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Rosary Society, St. Ann's Society, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Society, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Children of Mary, the Polish Women's Alliance, the St. Theresa branch of the Z.P.R.K., the Polish Women's Political Club and the Daughters of the Z.P.R.K. The men's organizations are: the St. Joseph's Society, the King John Sobieski Society, the Polish Guard, the Library of Adam Mickiewicz, the Polish National Alliance, the Falcons, the Cadets, the Polish Amalgamated Council, the Polish-American Citizens Club and Scout Troop 173.
 
There are now approximately 5000 Poles in Webster. St. Joseph's parish embraces nearly 1000 families and the parish school lists about l000 pupils. The town of Webster honors Polish traditions of patriotism and loyalty with Pulaski Square arid Kosciuszko Square.

Apart from this list of facts, the Poles in Webster have always maintained a high standard of morality. They are devoted to their church according to tradition and to their faith according to example. In the fifty years of their active life in this community they have never lost sight of their historic relation to the best values in the Polish culture. They have not lost their language, the Polish speech which crystalizes the genius of their fathers and keeps their own spirit rich and potential. These loyalties have helped to create a deep love for a free, democratic United States, of which they are now a rooted part. Though the vast majority labor in industry and farming, they own 60 per cent of the homes they live in, which bears witness of their permanent attachment to this country. The youth of the third and the fourth generations has not lost its respect and honor for the Polish language, nor has it lowered the standard of conduct of their antecedents. A large part of this is due to the unselfish spiritual and educational work of the parish priests and the Felician Sisters. Each generation brings firmer confidence and deeper insight into the past and with that greater hope for the future. Those who live in close contact with these people dare to prophesy that the future will not lessen their faith nor undermine their strength and that God's Providence will continue to keep them good Christians and good citizens of these free United States.
 
In conclusion we may say, that not only in Webster Poles grew in number in so short a time, but throughout the United States, out of a handful of immigrants, Polish Catholic people grew in number to five million, so today we possess nearly 1,000 Catholic churches in this country alone, some of them more magnificent than our edifice in Webste,

Committee on History:
Francis Grzebieniowski, Pres. Joseph Szczepaniak, Alexander Miller
November 14, 1937

In Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Blessing of the Corner Stone of St. Joseph's Parish.

THE PAST 25 YEARS - 1937-1962

In July, 1935 Dr. Andrew Lekarczyk was appointed pastor of the Saint Joseph Parish in Webster, His extensive accomplishments during this twenty-five year period are an eloquent testimony to a task well done, God in His goodness granted Father Lekarczyk the joy of witnessing the commemoration of two parish jubilees - the Golden Jubilee in 1937 and the Diamond Jubilee in 1962.

The history of the past twenty-five years is a history of devotion to duty, The glory of God and the good of the parish are the two beacons that led Father Lekarczyk on the path of duty. His life is influenced by the principles which were implanted in his heart by his mother who blessed him as he departed from his native Poland, Is it merely coincidental that the 75th anniversary of the parish and the 75th anniversary of his birth are observed this year?

The initial years of pastorate in the Saint Joseph Parish were by no means easy. On the national scene it was a period marked by economic stress, unemployment and depression, The parish was not spared in this general situation. Externally, all the parish buildings. church, school, rectory and convent presented a beautiful picture. However, there lay a heavy debt on this property. In addition, the buildings were in need of immediate repair. The enthusiasm of Father Lekarczyk and the understanding and cooperation of the assistant priests and parishioners were instrumental in the payment of debts and restoration of the buildings. In addition twenty-five acres of land were purchased near Worcester Road. Thus, the area of Saint Joseph Cemetery was doubled.

It would seem that after paying off the mortgage, which was approximately a quarter of a million dollars. Father Lekarczyk would rest on his earned laurels. This, however, was not the case. The idea of constructing a new church took birth during the burning of the mortgage. The parish grew in number and in spiritual strength. The territorial boundaries expanded and prosperity was slowly but surely returning, Gradually there was an increase in the number of parishioners in civic posts, in the town, in the state and even In the nation.
 
The usual administrative ability, expansiveness in action, courage in decision, untiring energy, a true love of God and people urged Father Lekarczyk on to further accomplishment. An advisory committee was formed. the purpose of which was to discuss the possibilities of constructing a new church for the Polish-speaking Catholics in Dudley, due to an increase of the Polish population, to select a location and to prepare the initial steps.

The members of the first committee were: Reverend Andrew Lekarczyk, Pastor, Rev. Charles Chwalek, assistant at St. Joseph Parish, Joseph Grzyb, Chairman of the Dudley School Board, Lawrence Christopher, Chief of Police in Dudley, Charles Skladzien, State Representative of Webster, George Gromelski, Jr., Dudley Town Treasurer, John Ruda, Jr., a Dudley businessman, Joseph Szkutak, a resident of Dudley, Helen Sielawa, Frances Laskowski, and Josephine Jarzabski, representatives of the Polish Women's Political Club of Dudley and Mary Androlewicz, Registrar of Voters in the town of Dudley. The Secretaries of this committee were Jessie Wisniewski and Regina Sielawa.

The first organizational meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Helen Sielawa; the second meeting was at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Androlewicz, and the third at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Benny Laskowski.

The parishioners were informed of the new project only after the permission of His Excellency, Bishop John J. Wright, was obtained and the land bought. Land on West Main Street, Dudley, was purchased from the Crawford family for $5,000 and this was the site for the first Catholic Church in the town of Dudley - the first in the 200 years of its existence as a township. Funds for the project were raised by pledges.

The dedication of the grounds took place on June 26, 1952 by His Excellency Bishop John Wright. Right Rev. Msgr. Felix J. Burant, pastor of Saint Stanislaus Parish in New York City, delivered the sermon. Rev. Martin Hanyz, pastor of Saint Hedwig Church in Southbridge and Rev. Michael Bielak, acting Provincial of the LaSalette Fathers in America and editor of "The Messenger of Our Lady of La Salette," assisted Bishop John Wright. The Rev. Alphonse Skoniecki, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Three Rivers and Rev. Joseph Niedzwiecki, pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish in West Warren, assisted the Right Rev. Msgr. Felix J. Burant.

Present at the ceremonies were: Rt. Rev. Msgr. Boleslaus Bojanowski, pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Worcester; Rev. John Kochanowski, assistant in the Saint Joseph Parish in Webster; Rev. John Aubertin, assistant at the Sacred Heart Parish in Easthampton; Rev. Charles Chwalek and Rev. Peter Samorajski, assistants at the Saint Joseph Parish in Webster, and many Polish organizations witnessed the ceremony.
 
Within two years the church was completed for the sum of two hundred forty thousand dollars which, incidentally, was the identical sum of the paid-off mortgage on the Saint Joseph Church.

The architect was Cornelius Buckley from Worcester, and the contractors the Innamorati Brothers from Clinton.

The ceremonies of the dedication of the new church took place on February 21, 1954. Bishop John Wright laid the cornerstone, blessed the church and celebrated a Pontifical High Mass at 10:30 a.m. The High Priest during this Mass was Rev. Louis Gallagher, S.J., from Georgetown, former rector of Boston College. It was he who transferred the relics of Saint Andrew Bobola from Moscow to Rome. The honorary deacons were: Rev. Martin Hanyz from Southbridge and Rev. Ladislaus Radzik from Gardner. Rev. Charles Chwalek, pastor of St. Stanislaus B. M. Church in West Warren, was deacon and Rev. Stanislaus Kubik from Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Worcester was sub-deacon. The thurifer was Rev. John Szamocki from Gilbertville and the Master of Ceremonies was Rev. David E, Bushey.

Rt. Rev. Msgr. Ladislaus Sikora, pastor of Saint John the Baptist Parish in Salem, preached an inspirational sermon on this occasion. In it he lauded Bishop John Wright for such an apt choice of a patron saint, Saint Andrew Bobola, for the newly dedicated church.
 
The Webster and Dudley Choirs under the direction of Edward Wojciechowski and organist Joseph Rogus sang Loesch's Mass in honor of Saint Elizabeth.

A very solemn moment during the Sacrifice of the Mass was immediately after the Elevation when the voices of the entire congregation joined in singing in the vernacular, a hymn in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, "Bądź-że Pozdrowiona Hostjo Zywa." This vocal rendition, in which rang a strong profession of faith: moved His Excellency Bishop John Wright to tears.

The Saint Andrew Bobola Church, built under the direction of Father Lekarczyk, remains up to date under his administration. It is the first church in America and in all probability outside of America that was given this name. Lately, some periodicals carried the information that two churches with Saint Andrew Bobola as patron have been built, one in Manitoba, Canada and the other in London, England.

The Church of Saint Andrew Bobola is constructed of red brick. Its exterior is beautiful, but the interior is even more so. With the exception of the pews, all other wooden items in the church are hand carved The main altar and the two side altars were imported from Italy. These and all other wooden furnishings were carved by a family of famous artists, who through generations did work for the Vatican. The main altar was a donation of Father Lekarczyk, who purchased it with his personal funds.

The side altar of the Immaculate Conception was purchased by the Dudley Women's Political Club, and the side altar of the Sacred Heart was purchased by Dr. Anthony Wojciechowski.

Other donations were: baptistery by Rev, John Kochanowski, confessional by Rev, Ladislaus Radzik, electric bells by the Chwa1ek Family, sanctuary lamp by the Helen Sielawa Family of Dudley, the statue of Blessed Bronislava and the candlesticks for the main altar by the Ladislaus Aniszewski Family. The names of the donors are engraved on plaques and attached to the particular items.

A special chapel in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa, located on the right side from the entrance, was dedicated on November 11, 1954, In it is found a painting of Our Lady of Czestochowa by Vincent Mond., The dress is ornamented according to design with pearls and precious stones.

Father Lckarczyk, keeping the present and future needs in view, planned and constructed the Saint Andrew Bobola Church. It serves the Poles of Dudley, It is a monument which proclaims the generosity of the Polish people.

One of the great and unusual treasures which it houses are the significant relics consisting of soil brought from Poland from various historical places, also ashes and bones from the Oswiecim concentration camp. This soil was brought from Poland, from the fields of heroic glory, from the fields of royal glory, from the sanctified places and from the fields of martyrdom. This soil is a symbol of the ties between Poland and America, a symbol which through the centuries was expressed in the motto - "Polonia Semper Fidelis." "Poland Always Faithful." Soil from the fields of Legnica, Wawe1, Czestochowa (Jasna G6ra) Szczepanow, the place where St. Stanislaus Bishop was martyred, and dust from the martyrs of Oswiecim - all these are deposited in special urns which are found on the altar at the side chapel. In this manner, the entire 1000 year history of Poland is represented - the history of Glorious Poland, the history of Religious Poland. and the history of Martyred Poland.

We find in the history of Poland the following account. In April of 1241, on the fields of Legnica, in Slask, a great battle with the Tartars was fought. These barbaric hordes crossed eastern and southern Europe. destroying in the march entire nations. At that time. in Legnica, the Polish Army, under Henry the Pius, son of St. Hedwig, opposed the Tartars, The battle was a fierce and bloody one, Both armies, the Polish and the Tartar, fought valiantly to seer exhaustion to the end, The battle ended when the Poles lost their commander in the person of Henry the Pius. However. the invasion of these barbarians was checked and thus Europe was saved. It is the soil from the fields of Legnica which seems to proclaim that Poland was and is the bulwark of Christianity and liberty.

The soil from Czestochowa carries a similar ruessage. There Father Kordecki with a handful of Pauline Father, forced the Swedes to retreat and thus saved northern Europe from Swedish invasion.

The soil from Wawel speaks of the glorious history of Poland. The soil of Szczepanow, the place of martyrdom of St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, and the dust [rom Oswiecim, where in this concentration camp four and a half million poles perished innocently, is a symbol of the suffering Poland. The dust from Oswiecim represents not only the Polish nation but also twenty other nationalities. This dust seems to cry out: "Remember Oswiecirn, be cautious in the face of madness, pave the road of love and not hatred amongst nations, We all live under one roof, we are all children of God and belong in His eternal abode."

The Church of Saint Andrew Bobola is a masterpiece of the noble ideas of Father Lekarczyk. In 1952 Pope Pius XII imparted a special blessing to its parishioncrs. In recognition of the magnificent accomplishments, Pope Pius XII made Father Lekarczyk a Papal Chamberlain with the title of Very Reverend Monsignor, In 1961 Pope John XXIII elevated Monsignor Andrew Lekarczyk, bestowing upon him the title of Right Reverend Monsignor. This honor conferred upon Monsignor Lekarczyk was also conferred upon the parishioners of the Saint Joseph and Saint Andrew Bobola parishes. All can be justly proud that they possess such an able spiritual leader and administrator. It is little wonder that Monsignor Lekarczyk enjoys the deep respect of all his parishioners.

In 1951, thanks to Divine Providence, Monsignor Lekarczyk saved the Saint Joseph Church from complete ruin. Late in the evening, in July of the same year. Monsignor, as was his custom, made a visit to the church in order to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. On opening the door, Monsignor found the church in smoke and the rear section under the choir in flames. Together with Father Chwalek, he managed to put the fire under control before the arrival of the Fire Department. By this action Monsignor Lekarczyk prevented about a million dollars worth of possible damage.

The stained glass windows, depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, are one of the outstanding ornaments in the Saint Joseph Church. Today, the renovated Saint Joseph Church together with the Saint Andrew Bobola Church, the Saint Joseph School, Rectory and Convent are a source of pride for the parishioners.

Elsewhere in this book are accounts of the many active parish societies and organizations.

On the occasion of this Diamond Jubilee, the parishioners petition Almighty God that He, in His goodness, bless Right Reverend Monsignor Andrew Lekarczyk, so that he may for many more years to come continue to serve his parish by deed and with advice, since the work is still incomplete.

Committee on History:
Rev, Stanislaus A, Lipinski, Francis Mleczko, Henry Dowgiewicz
September, 1962

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