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St. Mary's Parish - New York Mills, NY

A parish history from the 1960 Gold Jubilee Book

Lacking a church where they could hear the language of their fathers, they first attended Catholic churches where a language foreign to them was spoken from the pulpit. This did not satisfy the heart and the spirit of the Poles. They struggled and worked ceaselessly until their hopes and aspirations became a reality. Concerned about the future fate of their children, to safeguard the culture and traditions so dear to them, they began to organize their own parishes - Polish speaking parishes.

And for this reason, there came to life St. Mary's Parish, dedicated to the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Czestochowa (Our Lady of the Bright Mountain).

Though the first settlers came to New York Mills some sixty years ago, nearly ten years elapsed from their arrival before the parish had its birth. Until 1910 they had traveled to Holy Trinity Church in Utica to attend Mass and receive the Sacraments.

In 1910, St. Mary's was designated as a parish by the Most Rev. Patrick Ludden, Bishop of the Syracuse Diocese. Priests from Holy Trinity Church came each Sunday to say Mass Lo« the faithful, until the appointment of Rev. Stanislaus Plaza as the first resident pastor of St. Mary's. A few of the parishioners recall that the first Mass was said in the hall of Mr. Pezdek on Main Street for many years occupied by Union Store and presently unoccupied.

In the meantime plans were made to acquire a more spacious property, where there would be &uple space for expansion - for a rectory, a school and a convent for the sisters. God blessed their efforts. The estate of Walcott and Campbell with its numerous buildings was deemed to be the logical site. Immediately work began to transform the site into a parish unit. A large barn on the estate was converted into a church. This church was blessed on August 14, 1910. The present enlarged church rests on the site of that original church.

In 1911 Father Plaza was succeeded by Father Fija1kowski who came from Sacred Heart Parish in Syracuse, full of zeal for the house of God and the spiritual good of his new parishioners and especially the children. And so a school was built in 1915, entrusted to the care of the Fe1ician Sisters with their Motherhouse in Buffalo. In the meantime classes were held in the rectory. For fortyfive years school records show that our graduates have excelled in scholarship. It is due to the early training received at the hands of the good Sisters.

When the school was completed, the church was enlarged to accomodate the growing congregation. The church presently serves the congregation.

It was with great sorrow that the members of the parish in April 8, 1958 learned about the death of their beloved pastor who had spent forty-seven years of his priestly life among his devoted people. Indeed he was a true shepherd who knew the first name of every child entrusted to his care. To succeed Father Fija1kowski, Father Ko1eczek was named pastor, April 25, 1958. Since coming to St. Mary's, Father Ko1eczek with the help of his able assistants, Rev. Adolph Kantor and Rev. Arthur Hapanowicz, has done extensive remodelling and building. Glass stained windows were installed throughout the church, new confessionals were built. For the Golden Jubilee through the generosity of the parishioners, the interior of the church qas been modernized and painted making St. Mary's though not the largest· certainly one of the neatest and the most beautiful churches in the Diocese.

Pledges to the total of $155,000.00 were made in February of 1959 by the means of a special convent building fund drive. Presently a convent is being constructed on the site of' the former convent. Ground breaking took place .on Memorial Day of the current year. The new convent. will give the sisters the modest comfort which they do not seek but most certainly deserve. In time it is planned to build an auditorium to be used as a social center and a few classrooms for our growing school enrollment. We are confident that God will provide as He did in the past.

During the fifty years of its existence, St. Mary's has been served by the following assistant priests: Reverends Conrad Tyzynski, Valentine Chrobok, Edmund Stankiewicz, Stmliey Macewicz, Tbeophil Wojcikowski, Stariislaus Lniski, Leopold Prozny. Presently serving as Assistants are Father Kantor and Father Hapanowicz.

This has been the stoty of our parish for the past fifty years. Our parish was built to honor God and to bring blessings upon us all. Like every parish it had a humble beginning. Yet the hardships and the struggles were met courageously and conquered. It is with justifiable pride that we' rejoice in the accomplishments of the past. Five Masses are celebrated every Sunday and Holy Day, numerous societies both church and secular are closely allied with the parish. Since the beginning of 'the parish there have been 4,388 Baptisms, 1436 marriages. We take pride in our parish plant, the newly painted and modernized church, our, new convent. Visitors are pleasantly surprised to see such a beautiful plant with its very picturesque surroundings. They are enhanced by our beautiful/ grotto, the large cross, the large statue of Mary and Bernadette near the Sisters' convent. ST. MARY'S ON THE HILL IS NOT ONLY A PARISH -IT'S A SHRINE!

With gratitude we give fhanks to Almighty God for all the blessings showered upon us during a half century. We are mindful of our obligations -- we must c_ontinue to ',grow in grace before God and men, 'Rledging our loyalty to the Giver of gifts, that th.ose who follow us may inherit the Faith~and enjoy its fruits as we have in Christ Jesus.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011