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St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish - Hammond IN
A short history from the 1963 Jubilee Book
Polish immigrants in this freeland of ours, including the first settlement of Polish craftsmen in Jamestown have always lived up to their traditional motto "God, Honor and Country." Deeply rooted in their devotion to God and love of freedom to worship, they organized many parishes, at first predominantly Polish, because of the language barrier,and primarily because of the instilled love of their native land with many of its fine cultural and religious traditions. Polish religious hymns, songs and sermons linked them spiritually with the Motherland.
Similarly in the eastern part of Hammond in the year 1912, thru the initiative of Rev. Felix Seroczynski, the pastor of St. Casimir Parish in Hammond, and with the unselfish cooperation of the First Parish Committee, initial steps were taken to build a church in this region.
According to the treasured parish records the following members served on the First Committee: Joseph Kolanko, Frank Lesniewski, Martin Kocal, Peter Sopata, and Anton Zalot.
among the organizers we find names: John Bernacki, John Beczkaj, John Bien. Vincent Chmielewski, Anton Czuba, John Czurzytek, J. Duraj, Joseph Gasparovich, Frank Jasinski, Andrew Kilarski, Stanley Kolanko, Michael Lukowski, Wojciech Mroz, Frank Mucha, John Niemiec, Joseph Nozka, Radzimski, John Rosowicz, Anthony Salczynski, S. Skuraczewski, Anthony Standarski, Joseph Stodolo, Vincent Witkowski and Mark Worosz.
March 17, 1912 - a plot of land was purchased for the new Church named in honor of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
September 12, 1912 - Rev. Peter Budnik, pastor of St. Stanisl:us parish officiated at the ground breaking ceremonies.
December 25, 1912 - Rev. F. Seroczynski celebrated the First Holy Mass in the new church.
January 16, 1913 - Rev. Anthony Gorek named the first permanent pastor. First school and rectory erected under his guidance.
1915 - 1926: Rev. John Chylewski pastor.
1926- 1931: Rev. Ignatius Gapczynski, pastor.
1931 -1939: Rev. Ladislaus Szczukowski, pastor. In 1938, for the benefit of the American born generation, a third Mass was added on Sundays with a sermon in the English language.
1939 - 1962: Rev. Joseph Zobel, pastor. With improving economic conditions, the parish showed its greatest growth. Payment of outstanding debts, renovation of parish buildings, building a most modern school building and auditorium . . . are indicative of more prosperous times. With the acquirement of an assistant priest and doubling the number of Masses on Sundays, the Polish-English speaking priests were able to meet the spiritual needs of the parishioners.
In 1962, a prolonged and lingering illness caused the retirement of the pastor, Rev. Joseph Zobel.
Father Casimir Senderok served briefly as pastor before his permanent assignment to the Holy Family Parish in Gory.
At present the administrative and religious duties are carried on by Father Anthony Balczun.
In summarizing the history of St. Mary's parish life, it is equally important to point out the little recognized and seldom appreciated, unselfish devotion to God and their calling of the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda, serving the parish as teachers and nuns. It is thru their patient understanding and love of children that many graduates are serving God. We have the following priests serving God in the diocese of Gory and Fort Wayne: Rev. Thomas Depa, Rev. Roman Wojcicki, Rev. Chester Zurowiec, Rev. Henry Krysinski. The following nuns are with the Community of Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Kunegunda: Sister M. Hugoline Czaplinski, Sister M. Sidonia Wotroba, Sister M. Hedwinalla Wotroba, Sister M. Canisia Niemiec, Sister M. Ferdinand Skiba, Sister M. Tyburcia Sliwa, Sister M. Consilia Przybyl, Sister M. Nazaria Mroz, and Janet Popoditch.
Contributing significantly to the growth of the parish were the many Church Societies and Polish American organizations. Credit for organizing the First Committee in 1911 to purchase the parish ground goes to Lodge 925 PNA, the Holy Trinity Society under the leadership of the still active president, Martin Kocal.
Lodges: 128 of the Polish Women's Alliance, and 357 of Polish Falcons organized prior to 1912, and subsequent groups 806, 807 of the Polish Roman Catholic Union, St. Therese Society 330 of the Polish Union, the St. Cecilia Choir, Ladie's Rosary and Sacred Heart Society, Holy Name Society, originally known as the St. Mary's Mens Social Club, Rosary and Altar Society, originally known as the St. Mary's Ladies Social Club, Young Ladies Sodality, Young Men's Holy Name Society and the Children of Mary, and Ladies Falcon Nest 169 greatly aided the parish in its development.
Today St. Mary's parish consists of over 500 families and the school enrollment exceeds 211. Modern school facilities and the unequalled in teaching profession zeal and devotion of the Sisters guide the children through their most difficult and most important years.
"Tempera mutontur" ... times change, suburban style of living . . . each year fewer of the pioneers of 1912 remain among us . . . but their guiding Polish inherited motto: "God, Honor and Country" are the fundamental bases of fruitful life of the succeeding generations.
All of us gathered on this historic occasion bow our heads in reverence to our noble, sturdy Polish pioneers, to our beloved priests and nuns, to the many outstanding leaders of societies and lodges for sowing the seed which took so good a spiritual and moral root. We implore the Almighty God and the patron of this parish, St. Mary of Czestochowa, to bless them in their present and future endeavors, to serve God and Country and to instill honor in generations to come.
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Last Updated on October 20, 2011