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St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish - Cleveland OH

A brief parish history from the 1964 Jubilee Book

The parish of Our Lady of Czestochowa originated in 1913 as a mission attended from Sacred Heart Church on East 71st Street. The beginning of the century saw an ever increasing number of immigrants among whom were Poles. The natural expansion and development of Cleveland, in the southeast section of the city gave rise to a community of Polish families who made their home in that area. Churches in which these people could worshp and hear the Word of God in their native language were too far away. To eliminate the hardships caused by distance, His Excellency Bishop John Farrelly in September of 1914, directed the Reverend Victor Szyrockj, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, to organize a new parish and to select a suitable site for a new church. The Poles have a special devotion and filial love for Our Lady, whom the nation had chosen and for centuries has honored as their Queen. To this heavenly Queen, Sovereign of the Polish people, the protection of the newly established foundation was entrusted, and the parish hence is known under the title of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

In time. a large property was donated and a frame building that stood on a lot on E. 129th Street was moved and converted into a place of worship. In spite of odds against him, the courageous Father Szyrocki crystallized the dreams of his people to have a parish and a church of their own and within a brief period of time two frame houses were built, one to be the residence of the parish priest; the other to serve as a convent for the sisters who eventually were to staff the Parish School.

As Corlett was growing Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish was counting more and more members. By 1916, the fold had a membership large enough to warrant the service of a resident priest and Father Szyrocki was appointed its first pastor.

Reverend Victor Szyrocki guided his people as a good father. The undaunted pastor continued to follow the plan that he mapped out for himself, and to the motto "pray and work," he added another principle - to suffer. During the four years of his pastorate he did splendid work in the parish. Realizing the necessity of a religious background for the youngest members of hs flock, school matters began to interest the pastor. Space was partitioned off in the church building to provide for an elementary school. and the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth were engaged to teach the children. Thus the spiritual and cultural growth of the parish was assured.

The impaired health of the good priest was failing fast, and he was forced to ask for a leave of absence. He never returned to his parish for he was called by Our Lord to his eternal rest.

In April of 1920, the Reverend John Mlotkowski received the pastorate succeeding Father Murawski who was pastor for a relatively short time following Father Szyrocki's death.

Father Mlotkowski's foremost concern was to provide adequate accomodations in the church which was too small for the steadily augmenting number of parishioners. Plans were therefore made to increase the seating capacity of the church. In due time the church was extended. In 1922. Reverend Father Mlotkowski was succeeded by the Reverend Stanislaus Rogosz, who took over the pastoral charge and guided the constantly growing parish vigilantly until September, 1929.

The helm of the parish was subsequently entrusted to the Reverend John M. Zeglen, who came to Corlett from Youngstown. Ohio. Again. the new pastor was confronted with the initial task of providing sufficient accomodation in church for his parishioners, who were continuously swelling the ranks of the parish since its foundation. It soon became evident that the parish faced a major building problem. One year after Father's installation as pastor. a campaign was inaugurated to raise funds for the building of a church and school. Trusting in God's assistance. the intrepid priest with the generous cooperation of his loyal parishioners set out to build a modern church-school combination structure, The building was soon ready and dedicatory services were performed May 31. 1931. The original wooden structure which served as a place of worShip was remodeled and converted into a parish social hall.

In 1934, the convent was extended and remodeled to meet the needs of the Sisters. In the same year, the pastoral residence was enlarged to house three priests who by that time were necessary to minister to a relatively large congregation.

As a result of the generosity, the love. and confidence of his devoted people, Father Zeglen now envisioned greater possibilities of giving his flock a larger church, a bigger school and a center for social activities. The energetic pastor began his enormous project with the construction of a new convent for the Sisters, It was completed and solemnly blessed by His Excellency Edward Hoban on September 18, 1949.

Having proof of their pastor's untiring effort and capable administration the parishioners expressed their approval and gratitude by generous contributions toward fUrther development. Plans for the new church began to take shape and on January 25, 1953 ground was broken for the construction of the temple of God, The beautiful edifice in Monastic - Gothic Style was completed in a little more than a year. The outstanding ornamental feature in the church is a replica of the famous picture of the Madonna venerated in Her Shrine at Czestochowa. Brought from Poland to America by Father Zeglen, the painting is set in a magnificent frame above the main altar. With joyful gratitude in the hearts of all, Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was solemnly transferred to the new temple in the evening of March 6, 1954 and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was for the first time offered by the Right Reverend Monsignor John Zeglen, who in the meantime had been invested as Domestic Prelate of His Holiness.

In May, more changes took place. The frame structure that had been at one time church, then hall, was' razed to give way for a spacious parking lot between the church and school. On September 26, 1954 the solemn dedication of the church took place by His Excellency Archbishop Edward F. Hoban. The pastor then thought of moving the abode of the priests closer to the House of God; hence a new rectory was erected on East 142nd Street. To bring the parish buildings into a complete harmonious unity, a Social Center was built wherein
all parish social functions take place.

Words are unnecessary to extol the virtues of the Right Reverend Monsignor, and his capacity to do good. Incapacitated by age, long years of toil. and ill health, the Right Reverend Monsignor was relieved of his pastoral duties. and as pastor-emeritus he left the parish in June of 1964.

On the eve of the Golden Jubilee of the parish, the pastoral authority was passed on to the Reverend John J. Kucia. Father Kucia spent 14 years in the U. S. Army as a chaplain. After his active army service he was appointed in 1954 as pastor of St. Mary's Church in Barberton. Father Kucia held this post until coming to St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish on June 11, 1964. His qualities of both heart and mind assure the continued able direction that has been a blessing of God on the parish during its half century of existence.

As we look back at the long procession of days, weeks and months which have been leading to the climax of the Golden Jubilee we thank God for His numerous blessings in our endeavors. and we entreat Him to bless the parish and the future generations that will take up God's work and spread His Kingdom on earth.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011