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St. Michael Parish - Lynn MA
A brief parish history from the 1956 Jubilee Book
"Thou shalt sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim remission to all the inhabitants of thy land; for it is the year of Jubilee." (Lev. 25) This is the spirit of Jubilee in the Church.
Let us recall, at the outset, the sacred character of our subject; for, the History of St. Michael's Parish is the continuation of the Gospel story itself - the completion of it. As the Church took up the work where Christ left off, so the history of the individual parish takes up the history where "The Acts of the Apostles" leave off. It is true that all of the history may not be edifying. Consequently, we must always keep in mind the fact, that, despite an occasional failure to measure up to high standards, Christ is always invisibly working out His Own ends within the Church as elsewhere. We must keep alive in ourselves the faculty of wonder - a never ending wonder at the marvel of it all.
Fifty years ago, this land of ours was still, in the eyes of Rome, a mission country, on a plane with any of our present day foreign missions. Heading the list was keeping peace, harmony and unity in a fast growing Church under varied conditions and under a most heterogeneous makeup. Immigration proceeded from Europe at an immense rate. In the decade of 1860, there were only about 6,000 Polish immigrants; but during the first decade of the present century, it had swelled to over 600,000 Catholic Poles. The Polish immigrants distributed themselves widely, the greater number going to industrial centers and large cities. A very small percentage chose New England, and a few settled in our own fair City of Lynn.
At the turn of the century, American life was going thru a tremendous industrialization program. Machines replaced individual craftsmen, causing mass unemployment. This resulted in the sharpening of social problems. Liberal philosophy sanctioned greed and ruthlessness as virtues producing wealth; it opposed any interference from the Church or government; it treated labor as a commodity like iron or ore, working women and children 14 to 16 hours a day. Thus the small colony of Polish immigrants in Lynn had to struggle for its very existence. Many things in the new American life were dangerous to their faith and morals. Incessant vigil and action were needed to repel these perils. To do this effectively, St. Michael's Society was organized in 1903. Paul Chludzinski, Michael Glabicki, Wladyslaw Jastrzembski, Adam Kalapinski, Thomas Kasprzyk, Victor Kochanowski, Frank Kozecinski, Peter Marczak, Anthony Piwonski, Maximillian Powicki, Joseph Spencer, Leon Staskiewicz, Frank Steckel, Marian Szafranski, Anthony Toczko, Joseph Wlodkowski, are only a few of the outstanding charter members of the Society. At their request, spiritual services were conducted for the Polish people at St. Mary's Church by Rev. John Chmielinski, Rev. Joseph Czubek and others.
The Most Reverend Archbishop Williams, wishing to give the Polish people in Lynn a most complete freedom in the use of their language in Church, whereby they could so much the better combat the evils of the day and keep alive their Catholic Culture and Customs, appointed Reverend Stephen Duda to begin the necessary work of organization and building. On February 29, 1904, a lot on the corner of Summer and Cottage Streets was purchased for three thousand dollars. Two years later, April 24, 1906, a newly built Church was blessed and dedicated to the honor of St. Michael Archangel.
The Church being completed, Reverend Jacob Takuski was appointed Pastor of the new Parish of St. Michael. Upon him fell the responsibility of supplying further needs of the Parish. Within three years, a rectory was built at a cost of seventy-five hundred dollars. A four-grade school adjacent to the Church was purchased from the City of Lynn for eight thousand dollars. The School was opened in October 1918 under the supervision of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, and in particular, Sister Mary Florentine and Sister Mary Camilla. But as yet there was no convent and the Sisters were obliged to commute daily from St. Stanislaus Convent in Chelsea. Severe winter conditions soon made travel impossible and so rooms were hurriedly constructed in the school for the Sisters' use. In 1920, a home was purchased and converted into a convent.
The small school soon proved itself to be inadequate. In spite of the gloomy prospect of a new school, during the very trying days of an economic depression, a new four grade brick building was erected by 1924, for the sum of thirty-four thousand dollars. Without doubt, it was the perpetual strain under which Father Takuski carried on his work that shortened his life. At the young age of fifty-four - at the end of twenty-nine fruitful years in the Lord's vineyard, he passed away on June 6, 1925.
The late William Cardinal O'Connell, being ever solicitous about the good of St. Michael's Parish, selected for its new Pastor the young and energetic Reverend John A. Dronzek. As his predecessor, Father Dronzek showed himself to be a fearless champion of the Church and an outstanding spokesman for the oppressed. During the turbulent years of the Depression and World War II, he proved himself to be a Pastor of the flock entrusted to his care - tending to not only the spiritual but also the temporal needs of his people. To him was left the work of up-keeping the Church properties even to the extent of enlarging the Convent for the Sisters. He had the important work of knitting the parish together by means of various organizations. It is because of his personal love for music, that St. Michael's Parish excels in its choirs even to this day. On August 20, 1955, after months of suffering on the sickbed, Father Dronzek was called to his just reward.
The Most Reverend Richard J. Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, on September 5, 1955 appointed the present Pastor of St. Michael's Parish, Reverend Ladislaus A. Ciesinski. Our beloved Archbishop, knowing about the most pressing need of a new convent for the Sisters of the Parish, selected an able administrator, already noted for his many accomplishments here and in other Parishes. The Parishioners are most grateful to the Archbishop for having sent them, in the person of Father Ciesinski, an invaluable administrator, who, immediately upon his appointment, took upon himself the full burden of the much needed renovation of parish properties, devoting his individual care and attention even to the smallest of details.
St. Michael the Archangel is invoked as the protector of Christians in the battle against the powers of hell and as a helper in all the dangers of salvation. Because he was victorious in the battle against the rebellious angels, he is called upon to be a guide and protector of all men in their conflict with the powers of darkness. Was it not fitting, therefore, that in 1903 a group of political and economic refugees from Poland gathered together under his protection and guardianship. Was it not most fitting to dedicate the new Church to his honor. These pioneers stood in need of St. Michael's help to remain steadfast in the Faith, while their way of life was being violently changed by an industrial revolution. Their presence and actions thru St. Michael's Church has veritably made an incalculable contribution, in the past fifty years, towards the creation of a true Christian spirit in the life of our City. Lynn is a vastly better community for having had the fruits of the ministrations of St. Michael's Church for half a century.
The world's greatest heroes are not those who conquer nations and subdue them, and then glory in their conquests. Rather, the truly great are the men and women who desire to spend themselves and to be spent so that their fellowmen may learn to glory in the Cross and cause of Christ and His Church. For this reason, the left and efforts of our Pioneers are truly an inspiration and a challenge. Let us follow in the footsteps of the
organizers of St. Michael's Parish - let us seize anew the shield of St. Michael with a courageous hand and on our lips the prayer:
"Grant us with Michael still, 0 Lord
Against the Prince of Pride to fight;
So may a crown be our reward,
Before the Lamb's pure throne of light."
Vesp. of Feast
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Last Updated on October 20, 2011