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St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish - Niagara Falls NY

A parish history from the 1967 Golden Jubilee Jubilee Book

Behind the grandeur of Niagara's cataract as a Wonder of the World; beyond the romance of Niagara Falls as the universal Honeymoon City ... there lies a great deal of uncompromising realism. This is a "border town," a link between two countries, and so a contact point for trade and commerce. This is a wellspring of hydroelectric power, and so a natural magnet for industry. This is a geographically strategic corner of the nation, providing natural terminals for routes of land, sea and air. And it was this complex of features of realism, much more than those of emotion, which brought in settlers into the area.

Against this backdrop of economic factors the opening years of the twentieth century saw an immigration of Poles. The year 1902 saw the start of Holy Trinity Parish, but within 15 years a progressive need awoke prospects of another parish. That is how the Parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka came into being. The Most Rev. Bishop Dennis Dougherty gave the assignment to Rev. Stephen Szczepanski that he organize the people in the city's southeastern section, in the vicinity of 24th Street, and there build a new church for them. Both Father Szczepanski and Father Alexander Pitass, who was Pastor of Holy Trinity at that time, worked harmoniously in contacting families of the section trying to unite them into a basic unit for the new Parish.

The first Mass in the "new Parish" was said by its pastor on September 17, 1917, but it was on borrowed territory. Until such a time as buildings could be obtained or built, the base of operations had to be Our Lady of the Rosary, the neighboring Church on 22nd Street.

A great deal of the parochial existence of St. Stanislaus Kostka, during the interval between organization and actual construction, is at best fragmentary and shrouded in conjecture. Father Szczepanski supposedly arranged for the use of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, on a rental basis, for celebration of Mass and Services. In the meantime his place of residence and temporary Rectory was in the "Rydzewski" house on E. Falls and 24th Streets. Efforts were being made constantly to acquire more permanent quarters for the various parochial features. A request was made of the Chancery for permission to build a Church, and on the Committee which went to petition Bishop Dougherty for this, the names of Skurski, Madaj and Pasek were prominent. Permission was obtained and on April 7, 1918 groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the original Church on corner of Welch Avenue and 24th Street. Construction efforts, impeded by financial problems, stopped with the achievement of basement quarters for the church; further building was left for the future. On Easter Sunday of 1919, Church Services began officially in the newly built facility, and there they were to continue for almost half a century. The first Trustees of the Parish were John Holody and Joseph Bociak. In the year 1920, Father Szczepanski purchased the house on 2515 Welch Avenue as his Rectory, which continued in use until 1966. Then in 1924, still conscious of the need for expanded facilities, the Pastor had the Parish Hall building constructed on corner of Welch Avenue and 25th Street.

In all of this, a parallel concern was being exercised for benefit of School and the children of the Parish. In November of 1917, three Felician Nuns came to teach the 160 children of St. Stanislaus Kostka parishioners. Since the Parish had no classrooms, two rooms were rented from Our Lady of the Rosary Parish and used till other arrangements could be made.

The very first beginnings of the Schoo1 provide some of the most treasured memories held by the founders of this Parish, The first class to receive First Holy Communion received it at 0ur Lady of the Rosary Church. It numbered 27 children, almost equally divided into 14 girls and 13 boys. Some known names appeared on the school list: Bertha Rosinski, Frances Janik, Rose Kutlina, Mary Niemiec, John Holody, Catherine Kajfasz, J, Gorzka, Louis Kowal. Of course not all names are available.

From the beginning, the teaching Sisters occupied a rented house on E. Falls Street, but by Spring of 1918 two houses were purchased on 24th Street for use as School and Convent. Within the next six years, the School on corner of Niagara Street and 24th, one of the two purchased buildings, proved, to be too small, so when the Parish Hall building was put up on Welch and 25th, two classrooms were incorporated in the new structure.

Then in November of 1925, eight years after his arrival, Father Stephen Szczepanski left the Parish he founded and was transferred by Bishop Wm. Turner to be pastor of St. Valentine's Parish in Buffalo. In his place, St. Stanislaus Kostka received Father Anthony Haremza, who guided the destinies of the Parish for one year and a half. However, for the new Pastor, who had spent the four previous years in the farmland atmosphere of Assumption of B.V.M. at Albion, New York, the chemical factory surroundings of Niagara Falls were a difficult thing for his health to absorb. He was forced to give up the Parish.

It was May 1st, 1927, that Father Vincent Dudek was appointed to take the position vacated by Father Haremza. The first task he faced was the preparation to observe properly the tenth anniversary of the Parish's existence for which his years at St. John Kanty's in Buffalo prepared him well.

It was during Father Dudek's time that the Parish obtained the services of an Assistant. The priest who became the first Assistant at St. Stanislaus Kostka was Father Adalbert Kolodziej, being assigned in 1936.

The unfortunate aspect of the pastorate of Father Dudek was that he spent the entire cycle of the Great Depression In this Parish. It might be properly ascribed to his credit that during such a difficult period of time the Parish still managed to survive.

In the month of September, 1938, eleven and a half years after his arrival, Vincent Dudek went to be Pastor of St. Hyacinth Church in Lackawanna. Kolodziej accompanied him.

On the 21st anniversary of the Parish, September 17, 1938, Father Vincent Cyman was installed as the fourth Pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka. He remained as Pastor for a period of ten years. During his time, six priests served consecutively as his Assistants. They were, Fathers Peter Muniak, Stanley Wysoczynski, Carl Drews, Francis Hejza, Edward Bontor and Melvin Machnica.

It was soon after his arrival that the budding on Welch and 25th, put up as a Parish Hall, became outfitted to accommodate the Parochial School, and enlarged for use of Societies by having a basement excavated. In the meantime, the old building on corner of Niagara and 24th was razed. With the Depression's passing, the Pastor also found an opportunity to face Parish debts and work towards their liquidation. Also, the year 1942 was suitably commemorated as the Silver Jubilee of the Parish In August 1948, Father Vincent Cyman was assigned by Bishop John F. O'Hara to become Pastor of our neighboring Church, Holy Trinity. He went there, soon to be faced with the task of celebrating Trinity's Golden Jubilee in 1952.

Rev. Joseph Stelmach came to replace Father Cyman as Pastor. At the same time Father Bernard Sokolowski came as Assistant, and both remained together for 13 years. Some of the delayed building found realization at the hands of Father Stelmach. Six modern classrooms, with School offices and lavatories were built as a first floor over the Church on Welch and 24th. This construction began November 1949 and was blessed by Bishop O'Hara on September 3, 1950. All this time the Felician Sisters lived in their tight and uncomfortable family home on 24th Street. So Father Stelmach initiated the project of building a Convent. On the 31st of May, 1954, ground was broken for the Sisters' Home. Within a year the structure was complete, and on February 20, 1955 Bishop Burke officiated at its blessing.

There is no doubt that Father Stelmach was considered worthy of a reward for his accomplishments, and as a result he was appointed Pastor of the St. Adalbert's Basilica in Buffalo, on September 1, 1961.

Father Francis Krupa, who had been Chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo for about 16 years, came as the sixth Pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka. His Assistant was Father Frank Lubacz, who preceded him by about two months. But parochial work was not the sphere in which Father Krupa felt that he could do his best work, so after a short interval of scarcely two months he resigned the Parish and returned to Hospital chaplaincy.

His successor and present Pastor is Father Thaddeus Glowacki. He was installed on November 26, 1961, after having been Pastor of St. Philomena's Church in Franklinville. The Assistant assigned to him was Father. Stanley Nowak, who remained for four years and endeared himself to all. Since September 1965, Father Joseph Kwolek is the Assistant.

From the very beginning it was evident to Father Glowacki that the Parish has tremendous potential and the parishioners can accomplish great things if only called upon to do so. He initiated a time plan, to span the five years intervening between his coming and the 50th anniversary of the Parish. This plan was to schedule the liquidation of the Convent Debt, formulate and launch a Budding Drive and then actually build. "To build" meant a three-fold project. It included the New Church, the New Rectory and to remodel the old Basement Church into New Classrooms and Library.

Results speak for themselves. The debt was wiped out in two years. The Drive was so effective that the buildings were half paid for, before they became occupied. Groundbreaking for the new Church took place on June 27, 1965, with the eager cooperation of Parishioners, Societies, Clergy, Civic dignitaries and the Press.

Priests moved into the new Rectory in March of 1966, and Masses began in the new Church on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1966. On that day also, the Cornerstone was blessed by Father Philip Jarmack, assistant Director of Catholic Charities. Then Bishop James A. McNulty dedicated the Church on June 8, 1966, in presence of large numbers of hierarchy and the faithful.

This is the Golden Jubilee Year The history of the last 50 years is in reality not what these pages contain. The true history takes but one line ……            Lord, You have

poured out bountiful blessings upon Your people !

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011