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St. Stanislaus Parish - Superior WI

A parish history from the 1951 Golden Jubilee Book

The Story of a Half Century of Struggles and Victories Among the People of Polish Birth in Superior.

The St. Stanislaus Church will be fifty years old on November 14. 1951. but the story of Polish participation in building this City dates back to the early days of the middle Eighties when Superior's march to Northern Wisconsin supremacy was first begun.

In the early days of the Nineties. the citizens of Superior of Polish descent were scattered among other Catholic Churches in the City. They wanted a place wherein to worship their God in their own tongue. and after years of prayer and sacrifice, the goal seemed in sight. A beginning towards a congregation was made on May 18th, 1901. when the late Bishop Schwebach of the Diocese of La Crosse came to Superior and became interested in the desire of the Polish Catholics here to form a congregation of their own. He called a number of Superior Polish citizens together for consultation, and a site of eleven Lots in Block 24. Eighteenth Division of Superior. was decided upon. The sum of $2.500.00 was subscribed toward a new church and Bishop Schwebach detailed Rev. Jacob Korczyk of Phillips, Wisconsin to visit the Congregation once every month to further the work so started.

The congregation had plans to build a new church to their liking but lacked sufficient funds and instead. purchased the old Congregational Church which was then located at John Avenue and Belknap Street. and moved it onto the new site. This was done, and on November 14th. 1901 the Church was dedicated to the use of worship. The sum of $450.00 was paid for the old structure and an additional sum of $800.00 was expended for moving and necessary alterations for its new use. not so much in these days, but a great deal in those days for a new and small congregation. A foundation was erected and later the first floor of the two-story structure was remodeled into four classrooms. The first secretary of the church was the late Stanislaus Sidorek and Jacob Budnick was the first treasurer.

The Polish people of Superior embraced their new sanctuary with such zeal and sacrifice that Bishop Schwebach surprised them by appointing as their regular pastor. the Rev. Father August Babinski of Fairchild, Wis. This venerable servant of His Master did yeoman service in guiding the new church onward to its future growth and success until called to his Reward in 1911. He was ordained a priest at the University of Louvain. Belgium in June, 1886. After serving congregations at Junction, Fairchild and Independence, Wis., he came to Superior.

Father Babinski's first official act as pastor was to bless the new church. which took place on the second Sunday in November. 1901. The solemn ceremony was attended by a large congregation. Among the visiting priests were Rev. Jacob Korczyk and Rev. Sroka of Duluth. Rev. Babinski built the much needed parish house, aided by a building committee consisting of Henry Kolanek, Walter Skorupa, Joseph Wangel, Thomas Matlak and others. The house was adequately furnished and a modern heating plant installed.

In 1903 the first floor of the church structure was converted into classrooms for the benefit of Polish children who were scattered among other city schools. Mr. Baclawski of Winona, Minn., was secured as a teacher and organist of the church. When the diocese of La Crosse was divided and Rt. Rev. Augustine Schinner became resident Bishop of Superior, he manifested a great interest in the Polish work, and through his invitation the Franciscan Sisters of Milwaukee took over the school work. At first they lived with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart Convent until a new parish convent was built in 1906 on Birch Avenue. opposite the church.

In 1909, after years of steady growth, the school work was placed in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Stevens Point, Wis., who since that year served the parochial school of St. Stanislaus.

During Rev. Babinski's administration two missions were held at the church by the Franciscan Fathers of Pulaski, Wis.

As noted before, the lamented Father Babinski passed on to his Reward in August, 1911, and was succeeded by Rev. Anthony Borucki. formerly pastor of the St. Adelbert's congregation at the East End. It must be noted that Father Borucki organized the St. Adelbert's congregation. He was ordained by Rt. Rev. Bishop J. M. Koudelka, D. D . and for two years worked with such zest and energy that his congregation doubled during his pastorate. During his term the congregation took steps to build a new and more spacious church.

Rev. Father A. Gawenda, the successor to Father Borucki, graduated from the University of Freiburg in 1910, and came to the United States the following year. His first work here was in a Slovak charge and was later transferred to St. Stanislaus. Father Gawenda gave himself to the work for a much needed modern church home, and the people of the congregation soon had the ways and means well underway. The meeting which started the work for the new church was held early in 1915, a building committee was chosen and every parishioner pledged $50 towards the building fund. The plans for the new combined church and school building were drawn by Mr. Victor Cordelia. The building progressed rapidly and on Oct. 17th of that year the cornerstone was blessed and laid with appropriate ceremonies by the Rev. A. A. Jazdzewski. assisted by the Rev. Fr. Schultz of S. S. Peter and Paul Church of Duluth, who delivered the sermon. In spite of inclement weather, a large gathering of people attended the sacred ceremony.

The building committee consisted of the following parishioners: Frank Grywacz, secretary; Felix Stachelski. treasurer; Henry Kolanek, Joseph Sawicki. Martin Sikora, Alexander Lesczynski, Joseph Gonski. Ferdinand Cebulla, H. Jaroch, Paul Gappa and Peter Herubin.

When the building was finally completed, it had a length of 145 feet and a width of 66 feet. two stories high with basement. The upper story is occupied as a church, with class rooms on the second floor, and a hall, kitchen, gymnasium, lavatories and furnaces in the basement. The church proper is 30 feet high and accommodates 600 people.

The blessing of the new church took place May 21st, 1916, with appropriate services for the occasion, celebrated by the Bishop of the Diocese, Rt, Rev. J. M. Koudelka, D.D. and assisted by many neighboring priests. A mission was held in August of that year by the Franciscan Fathers of Pulaski. Wis.

Rev. Father Gawenda was succeeded by Rev. Paul Ronczaszek, who served about a month, being succeeded by the present pastor, Rev, L. S. Nowacki.

Father Nowacki was born in Manistee, Michigan, graduated from St. Francis Seminary near Milwaukee, and was ordained by Archbishop Quigley of Chicago, June 1st, 1912. Before coming to Superior he was pastor at Chetek. Weyerhauser and Lublin, WI. When he became pastor of St. Stanislaus, the church was in debt $80,000. Many improvements in the buildings and dwellings have been made, and a new Houseman pneumatic pipe organ, the best of its kind in the city, installed, It has 20 different stops, a double manual and is operated by electricity. There are 650 pipes producing the melodies of 50 different instruments. In this great work the pastor and the choir members worked hard and successfully. The organ was blessed with pomp and ceremony on April 23, 1917, a memorable day for our parish and particularly for its music-loving members. Father Nowacki was especially active during World War I as a member of the Red Cross and as organizer for the Polish Army in France, 187 entering that branch of the service and many more joining the American Expeditionary Forces. He was one of the minute men for home service on the platforms in our city.

A Mission was held by the Jesuit Fathers of Toledo, Ohio, on Sept. 24th, 1921. and another by the Franciscan Fathers of Pulaski. Wis. on Nov. 7th to 14th, 1926.

In 1926, the St. Stanislaus Parish celebrated its Silver Jubilee. The expiration of the past twenty-five years brings us to the happy vantage point of our Golden Jubilee. from where we may look back with deep thankfulness at the spiritual and temporal triumphs achieved by the parish since 1926, and look forward with confidence in its future.

It would be impossible to enumerate here all of the material improvements God has enabled us to make in our parish during this fruitful period. They were made despite the fact that during this quarter of a century we witnessed the most severe economic depression in the history of our country, and our parish enjoyed no special exemption from i:s ill effects. The donors whose Christian generosity made these things possible are also too numerous to list here, Nor can we name the person who gave most generously, though we might wish to do so, for that was the person who. regardless of the size of the gift. made it at the greatest sacrifice and to judge that person among us is beyond human power.

To refresh our gratitude to God for these material acquisitions and triumphs, let us recollect only a few of them: There was the raising of funds in 1928, through the cooperation of the parishioners and their still youthful pastor, that made possible the complete redecoration of our church. by which the parish proved its awareness of. and pride in that characteristic of true Catholic communities--the beauty of their churches; there are the beautiful statues of St. Therese and Our Lady of Perpetual Help that we know so well. donated by Miss Sumoski and Miss Veronica Fisher. respectively, and aptly symbolizing the sacrifice and generosity lavished by many of this parish on the task of beautifying the House of God; there are the pedestals for the statues of St. Therese and St. Joseph. donated by Miss Fisher. and enhancing their beauty; there is the new pulpit donated by the Holy Name Society: there is the playground and athletic field made up of the 9 vacant lots which lie east of the Church. a boon to our children, for which we thank its kindly and generous donor. Mr. Victor Nelson, and lastly, there were the excellent results of the special effort made from 1930 to 1940 to reduce the financial obligations of the Parish. Undaunted by the "hard times" then prevalent. the parish retired almost $30,000.00 of its debt. through the untiring work of its Pastor and parishioners. and with the kindly assistance of Bishop O'Connor. Perhaps in this years of the Golden Jubilee, we may clear up our material debt. and should that happen, we will do well to recall that the twenty-five years just past have seen the foundation laid for just such a victory.

In the realm of things spiritual. ever superior to that of things material, God has been generous indeed to our parish. Of the greatest individual spiritual conquest among us during these years we can be no more certain than of the most generous giver. But we can be certain of many of the spiritual blessings shared by all of us: strong leadership; the many among us who have embraced a religious vocation: the flourishing of activities, primarily spiritual. in our midst; and the invaluable benefits of Catholic education provided in our parish school.

Such men as Bishop Schwebach, Bishop A. Schinner. Rev. Jacob Korczyk. Rev. August Babi, Rev. Anthony Borucki, Rev. A. Gawenda and Bishop Koudelka provided the parish with memorable religious leadership. It was in no small measure that they contributed to the success of St. Stanislaus parish. and they deserve our remembrance on this Golden Jubilee.

The religious vocations the parish has fostered are evidenced today in the persons of three of our young men studying for the sacred priesthood. Leo Krynski received his Sub-Deaconship on Mav 26th of this year; Joseph Karolewski, S. J. is presently teaching at Marquette University and Ronald Olson is with the Franciscan Conventuals, In the past. we have taken justifiable pride in seeing three newly ordained priests offer the first Holy Mass at the altar of St. Stanislaus. They were Rev. Francis Lapinski in 1928, and in 1938, Rev, Gozanski and Rev. Stanislaus Pisarek. These vocations are more ample proof of God's blessing than the richest of material advancements.

In the ranks of Sisterhood, our parish is proud to name the following: Sister M. Danuta (Sawicki); Sister M. Aquila (Wendzigolski); Sister M. Laeticia (Matan); Sister M. Victoria (Blot); all of the Order of St. Joseph, and two of the Tomczak family, namely Sister M. Alfreda and Sister M. Jude, of the Order of St. Francis,

In the past twenty-five years, there has been a remarkable growth in activities of a spiritual nature in our parish. The Holy Name SOciety was organized, the Third Order of St. Francis came into our midst. and the society for boys and young men, known as the Sacred Heart Boys, had its beginning. These societies, along with those which existed previously. have done much to animate the religious life of the parish. They have quickened the Catholic lives of our laity, and have aided our people in becoming better Catholics. In 1945 the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was organized in the parish, and is doing much towards spreading the Doctrine of Christ in the field of Catholic Action. At about the same time the Parent-Teacher Association was begun. It has been instrumental in bringing about a better spirit of understanding and mutual help in our school.

Prominent among the spiritual activities each year is the Annual Novena to the "Little Flower." Begun in 1931. it has attracted many to pay honor at the Shrine of the little Saint. Throughout the years visiting missionaries-Franciscans, Jesuits, Oblates of Mary, Claritans. Paulists, Dominicans, Redemptorists and others, have given the Novena the particular spirit of their respective communities. The people of the parish have responded nobly and profited greatly. It can be truly said the little Saint continues to shower her "roses" of spiritual help upon us,

In a world that seems to increasingly ignore God, parish schools such as our own stand up like beacon lights in the secularistic darkness. Our parochial school has always been the pride and joy of the parish. The present enrollment is 88 students. St. Stanislaus school is truly Catholic and determined to do its duty in the spread of Faith by way of a sound Catholic education. Many of our graduates have Gone forth to make their places in business, commerce and engineering, and in these peaceable professions, rave contributed to the strength of the great land we love,

The grim summons of World War I I brought more than 200 young men of St. Stanislaus into the service of their Country, and the manner in which they acquitted themselves in that service was the finest proof of the truly American spirit of loyalty to country which has always been inculcated in the pupils of our parish school. Seven of these men died in service. They were, Joseph Korycinski. Edward Stefanowski. Delbert Marlton. Thomas Perkins, Walter Butler, Benny Olaf and George Zanuzoski. Their heroic sacrifice meant a great loss to their families and their parish, but it will serve forever as a symbol of the patriotism they had learned well in their parish school. May they rest in peace!

These diverse activities have had one aim in common-the spiritual enrichment of the parish and its members. The accomplishment of that aim is manifest in many ways among us. We have acquired by these spiritual means and others, a wealth not of this world, and that is the paramount reason for which we rejoice on this Golden Jubilee. Were we spirituality destitute, the mere passing of the fifty years of parish life would not of itself give meaning to the occasion.

Certain parochial celebrations of the past twenty-five years deserve our recollection. In 1937 Father Nowacki celebrated his Silver Jubilee of the holy priesthood. In 1941 the Silver Jubilee of the present church building was celebrated, and in that same year Father Nowacki completed his 25th year as pastor of St. Stanislaus. These Jubilees signify the graces and blessings God has showered on our parish during these past 50 years.

Too, the visit of General Joseph Haller to our parish in 1940 was a heart-warming occasion that we should not forget. Civic and religious leaders of Superior combined at that time to give honor to the illustrious Polish patriot who led an army into a liberated Poland during the First World War. A dinner in his behalf was given at the Androy Hotel and a patriotic program presented at Central High School. A large parade conducted him through the streets of the city. He was feted by the entire City of Superior and, fittingly, General Haller was particularly honored and welcomed by his countrymen in the Parish of St. Stanislaus.

Nor should we rejoice on this occasion without solemn remembrance of the place our parish has held in the individual lives of each of us. In fifty years there have been 2.308 baptisms, 344 marriages and 706 funerals. Only God has full knowledge of the number of confessions heard and Holy Communions received during that period of time. But parish records can and do show the times of births, baptisms and deaths, and these prove that in the first year of its parochial life the parish priest of St. Stanislaus baptized the infant, Helen Clara Olszewski in September, 1901; buried the infant, John Herek in December of that year, and on November 3, 1901 united in Holy Matrimony John Milewski and Mary Stramko. The strong firm thread of the Sacraments was already beginning to run through the lives and deaths of the people of St. Stanislaus.

As for the future. we can only pray, in this time of jubilation, that the spiritual vitality of the parish will increase, and that its material obligations will be met successfully. Many men of great learning and experience foresee in the not so distant future a titanic struggle between Christian civilization and the Marxist materialism that has as its stronghold Soviet Russia and all its satellites. A forecast of what that struggle will bring in the way of persecution of the Church and its members is not difficult to make in view of the savage onslaught against Catholics now being carried on in Eastern Europe. If the world is to be torn by such a conflict, then our civilization and country will need good Catholics perhaps more than they ever have before. and let us pray that our parish shall help to provide them. St. Stanislaus himself, martyred by a cruel and head-strong king who thought his temporal power superior to that of the Church, will serve as a shining example for all of us should future years bring upon us the horrors predicted. In the meantime. whether in peace or war, we can best serve God, the parish and ourselves by leading exemplary Catholic lives every day of every year.

Let us treat this Golden Jubilee primarily as an occasion to pause and to realize the countless graces and blessings bestowed by Almighty God. The past 50 years may justly produce in St. Stanislaus Parish a sense of pride and satisfaction; but above all. it should call forth devout and prayerful Thanksgiving to God for the favors and blessings of a golden half-century.

Church Committee
Very Rev. L. S, Nowacki, Pastor
Joseph Butler  - Secretary
Joseph Ligman - Treasurer

Ushers: Walter Mizinski. Frank Collins, Peter Karleski. Leo Waletzko, James Sawicki,
Stanly Karwoski. John Stefanowski, Stanley Sawicki, Sr.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011