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St. Stanislaus Parish - Nashua NH
A parish history from the 1958 Golden Jubilee Book
With courage noteworthy of his heritage, the Polish emigrant left his native land and his loved ones to seek a new life of freedom from tyranny and persecution in the United States. Although the number of Polish settlers in Nashua was comparatively small, nevertheless they were no less fervent in their Catholic faith. Convinced that a church, priest and school were of primary importance, a small band assembled immediately in an effort to establish a Polish parish.In the meantime, in order to glorify God and practice their religion in their new land, the Polish colonists attended the Immaculate Conception Church in this city; however, as their number continued to increase, the Jan Sobieski III Organization, established on March 3, 1907, began actual proceedings toward establishing a Polish parish. A meeting of all the Polish people in Nashua was called, and a committee delegated to seek the Bishop's permission to establish a parish with a Polish priest in charge. The delegation was asked for a list of names of the persons of Polish extraction desiring this parish; to comply, a committee in charge of the Reverend John Puchala, Pastor in Manchester, New Hampshire, was selected and five hundred signatures were obtained. His Excellency, Most Reverend Bishop A. Guertin granted permission on April 19, 1908 for the founding of a new parish under the patronage of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr.
Reverend John Mard was assigned as our first Pastor but due to poor health, he realized that he would be unable to undertake the enormous task of literally building a new parish and resigned after three months.
His successor, Reverend Francis Taborski, a young and energetic priest, took up the work zealously. With the help and generosity of his parishioners, he purchased a lot with two houses on Franklin Street for the sum of five thousand dollars. One of these buildings was used as his rectory.
Construction on the church, a wooden building of Roman-style architecture, was begun in the spring of 1909 and completed in the autumn of that year at a cost of eighteen thousand dollars.
In September, 1910, Reverend Louis Wojtys was appointed successor to Father Taborski. This kindly priest accomplished much for the Polish people in Nashua, particularly for the children. He was responsible for the building of the hall which, for many years, was used as a school as well as a place for meetings and entertainment. In 1914, eight acres of land were purchased for a cemetery. It was also during Father Wojtys' pastorship that St. Stanislaus Church was dedicated.
His successor, Reverend Marian Godlewski, had been a Chaplain of the Polish-American Army and a hero of World War I in which he suffered under Bolshevik bondage. At the end of five years, Father Godlewski left Nashua en route to Poland.
Reverend Stanislaus Bona then served as Pastor for two years. It was at this time that His Excellency, Most Reverend Bishop Guertin placed St. Stanislaus Church in the care of the Missionaries of Our Lady of LaSalette assigning Reverend Joseph Piszczalka, M.S. as Pastor.
Under Father Piszczalka's long and capable guidance, St. Stanislaus church and parish made great progress in matters spiritual and material. Immediately on his arrival, he began his tireless efforts to renovate the church and rectory, both of which were then in need of repair. The first major project was the installation of electricity in the church and hall at a cost of $1,131. By the end of 1927, the original parish mortgage had been paid.
On July 4th, 1928, the City of Nashua celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary. A gigantic parade commemorated this event in which five thousand persons participated. Father Piszczalka, realizing that he, together with his parishioners, owed a civic duty to the City, decided that we should take part in this impressive event. As a result, the St. Stanislaus float won the grand prize.
Throughout this time, many improvements were completed in the interior and exterior of the church. Work was begun at the cemetery. A Polish school was started during the following year which the parish children attended after their public school sessions.
It might be well to note that these improvements and renovations were being made at a time when our country was experiencing its most serious financial crisis. Notwithstanding the depression, St. Stanislaus parishioners, with complete faith in their Pastor, contributed as generously as they could in order that they, and their children, might glorify God in surroundings befitting Him.
St. Stanislaus parish observed its Silver Jubilee on October 15, 1933. The celebration was opened with a procession of parish members proceeding to the church where His Excellency, Most Reverend John B. Peterson, Bishop of Manchester, officiated at a Pontifical Mass. In the afternoon, thousands of people lined the streets to witness a parade in which all local Polish organizations participated and which was climaxed by brief exercises at Railroad Square commemorating the late Polish hero, General Pulaski.
In its silver jubilee year, St. Stanislaus Church records listed one hundred ninety families and over one thousand individuals. The church and its properties were insured for $35,000., while the parish debt was $13,000.
By the grace of God, the years following its silver jubilee were harmonious ones for St. Stanislaus Parish. On August 31, 1938, the Felician Sisters, were assigned to Nashua to teach the parish children their religion preparatory to receiving the Sacraments and also undertook the instruction of the Polish language. Sister Mary Leocretia, C.S.S.F., was assigned as the first Superior. They have been with the parish ever since, and all the parishioners owe these fine Sisters a debt of gratitude for their untiring efforts in behalf of our children and our parish.
The peaceful existence of all people was violently shattered on December 7th, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States became embroiled in World War II. St. Stanislaus youth, as loyal young men and women from all over the country, rose immediately to its defense by entering military service. St. Stanislaus Parish was proud of these young people, almost two hundred strong, who endured the hardships and sacrifices of four years of war. It is with deep and humble gratitude that we remember Joseph Aksilowicz, John Bankowski, John Dobrowolski, Stanley Kozlowski, Fred Vydfol, Edward Latwis, Michael Shubelka and William Juchniewicz, who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. In an effort to commemorate, in some small way, the sacrifices made by our veterans, a chapel and monument were erected on the grounds of St. Stanislaus Cemetery and dedicated on June 3rd, 1945.
As the number of parishioners increased, the concurrent duties of the Pastor increased as well. Therefore, in 1947, Father Joseph Jaworski, M. S., was assigned to St. Stanislaus as its first Curate. Father Jaworski's stay in Nashua was short-lived, however, due to his failing health.
In June, 1948, after twenty-one years of faithful and devoted service to St. Stanislaus Parish, Father Joseph Piszczalka, M.S. was reassigned to conduct missionary and retreat work at Holy Trinity Church in Westfield, Massachusetts. It is impossible to completely sum up this span of years of a priest's life and work in a parish. Father Piszczalka guided his parishioners spiritually, shared their heartaches and their personal triumphs, and did a great deal of manual labor in the church, rectory and cemetery. Perhaps appreciation can best be manifested by a simple, but deeply sincere, "God bless you."
On June 22nd, 1948, Reverend Eugene Dranka, M.S., was assigned as Pastor of St. Stanislaus Church, and Reverend John Blazewicz, M.S. as Curate. Upon their arrival, the new Pastor and his assistant found themselves in the midst of a major project, namely the redecoration of the church interior. This work was completed under their supervision and included the renovation of the sanctuary, stations of the cross, pews and floor. This project was merely the beginning of a series of major alterations which were to be undertaken in the church, hall, rectory, cemetery and the school under the able direction of the newly assigned priests.
In 1950, a new church entrance was constructed, and a steel girder was placed in position to add support for the sanctuary. The choir loft was raised, leveled and strengthened. The organ, which had served the church for so many years, was cleaned, revoiced, and new stops were attached. An all-electric console with magnets now replaced the old tractor system and decorative pipes were installed. A total sum of $13,000. was expended on these projects.
The parish cemetery had been neglected for many years. Our Priests were concerned about beautifying these sacred grounds as a proper resting place for our departed parishioners. Thus, in 1950, work commenced on a truly major scale. In the succeeding eight years, the entire area was completely leveled, landscaped and greatly enlarged, and a road was built encircling the cemetery. A perpetual care fund of $20,000.00 in Government Bonds is now established to insure future upkeep. A solid granite wall attractively sets off the cemetery from all surrounding area. Expenditures made on this project since 1950 have been $42,000.
It is always important to a parish that its families often gather together for spiritual as well as social activities. This combination produces a closely knit unit which keeps the parish flourishing. For this purpose and with much foresight, our parish Priests decided to develop the property situated on the Pine Hill Road known as Pulaski Park. Since 1951, the area has been greatly enlarged, a parking lot has been laid out for five hundred cars, new buildings have been constructed for various purposes, and the park now boasts the largest outdoor fire place and spit in New England. During the summer months, the parish holds all outdoor functions at this site. The cost of developing this area since 1951 has been $20,000.
Because many of our social activities cannot be held outdoors throughout the year and because of the necessity of a meeting place in close proximity to the church, work was started in the basement of the church. Today, the parish possesses a modern, well lit and comfortable hall for the use of various church organizations and children's groups. A separate room was excavated under the rectory for the religious instruction of the children. To facilitate access to these two areas, a new driveway and parking lot were constructed. This work was done in 1953 and 1954 and proved once more to be a major financial project on which we expended $38,000.
One may wonder how a small parish can afford such costly improvements year after year. When bingo was legalized in this state, ours was the first charitable organization to conduct a bingo party which was held on November 10th, 1949. It is because of these parties, which have been held ever since, that we have been able to realize such material progress. In addition to the above enumerated improvements, we have been able to provide the Sisters with a private chapel in their convent, we have mechanized the church bells to toll the "Angelus" automatically, and we have completed other major alterations on parish properties and especially in the rectory, at a total cost of $27,500.
In May, 1955, Father John Blazewicz, M.S. was assigned to the LaSalette Seminary in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Reverend Henry Sampson, M.S. arrived at St. Stanislaus shortly thereafter. His successor was Reverend Joseph Sullivan, M.S. In November, 1956, Father Blazewicz returned to the Nashua parish as its Curate.
There have been many individuals who are deserving of singular praise for their efforts on behalf of St. Stanislaus Parish. One, however, shall always be remembered by all the parishioners for her unselfish and untiring devotion to the church and its people. Mary Klaczynska Tafe had served as our organist and choir director for forty-five years. She passed away on February 2nd, 1957. As a small gesture of gratitude for her laudable service, the parishioners donated the "MAAS ROWE" electronic carillons in her beloved memory. And thus today, beautiful hymns peal forth from the spires of St. Stanislaus for all to enjoy.
The parishioners of St. Stanislaus approached this year of 1958, their golden jubilee year, with enthusiastic pride and a heartfelt gratitude. It was evident that such a milestone should be properly and adequately observed. Therefore, an executive committee was appointed and held its first meeting on October 30th, 1957 to oversee the numerous activities planned to commemorate this great occasion. After a few preliminary discussions, general parochial meetings were called to solicit the aid of all parishioners.
It was unanimously decided to highlight this important event in our history by completely renovating the interior of our church, particularly the Sanctuary. Each working person of the parish was asked to make a voluntary donation of $50 to defray the cost of the undertaking. Our original goal was set at the estimated cost of the improvements, namely $10,000. The actual work began in January, 1958. However, as the work progressed, it soon became eviden t tha t the plaster in the church was in dangerous disrepair. The situation was corrected but increased the cost of the entire renovation to $22,000. Unfortunately, all the work originally planned shall not be completed in 1958, but we hope to accomplish this endeavor in 1959.
The golden jubilee year was officially opened on May 4th, 1958. On this Sunday morning, Monsignor Thomas Newman, M.S. Protonotary Apostolic of Akyab, Burma, celebrated a Solemn High Mass. Father Lawrence Karcz, O.F.M. preached the sermon, and all the children of the parish formed a beautiful procession which was carried out in a golden theme.
In the interim before the final closing, several cabarets were held in May and June. Pulaski Park was also the site of a chicken barbecue in May, and a beef barbecue and Polish picnic in September.
The spiritual needs of the parishioners were amply fulfilled with a Polish Mission conducted by Father Lawrence Karcz, O.F.M. in September, and an English Mission conducted oy Father Patrick Durkin, M.S. in October.
Our commemorative celebration was quickly approaching its finale. The golden jubilee year was officially closed on October 12th, 1958. At nine o'clock in the morning, His Excellency Most Reverend Matthew F. Brady, D.D. celebrated a Pontificial Mass. The en tire Mass, including Bishop Brady's sermon was broadcast over radio station WOTW.
The solemn observance of our fiftieth birthday culminated with a free banquet at the city auditorium to which all of our parishioners, young and old, were invited. Many distinguished clergy and laity graced our tables a t the banquet.
In the midst of this festive observance, we did not forget those founders who are no longer wi th us and all departed members of our parish. A Solemn High Mass of Requiem was sung for the repose of their souls on Thanksgiving morning.
In charting the inception and growth of St. Stanislaus Parish, we see that it is a story of individuals-their dreams and accomplishments, their heartaches and sacrifices, their moments of success and happiness. Yes, it is the story of human beings with immortal souls who wished to serve God in their own language and customs.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to name all who have helped to erect and maintain this temple of God. Though they may not receive human praise and glory, yet their efforts have not been in vain. The All-Seeing and All-Just God has certainly rewarded their sacrifices and courage.
We are justly proud of our pioneers who well realized that the parish is the unit established by the Church to teach, guide and nourish the faithful. For the parish constitutes the first cell of the whole Church. In its fifty years, St. Stanislaus Parish, through the ministrations of the priests, has been the spiritual cradle where 1299 of our children were born to Christ; the place where over 639* boys and girls have received their first Holy Communion and where all of us obtain remission of our sins and receive the Bread of Life; the school where we learn to love God and all the rest of mankind, where 775 have been confirmed as soldiers of Christ; the sanctuary where 500 marriages were blessed and the abode from which 343 earthly bodies have been carried before they were taken to their final resting place.
This is the history of St. Stanislaus Parish from 1908 to 1958, and golden is the record of its members. Never would there have been this success were it not for the sacrifices of the people, nuns and priests which were blessed by God through the intercession of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr.
Today we humbly acknowledge this debt of gratitude and beg Almighty God to continue His abundant blessings upon all of us. May the spirit of the pioneers-the spirit of sacrifice-the spirit of cooperation-continue to flourish in us and in our children for the greater honor and glory of God and our Parish!
* Records are incomplete, none from 1908 to 1918.
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Last Updated on October 20, 2011