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St. Stanislaus - Philidelphia PA

Its History and the Description of Parish Buildings - 1991 to 1941

A half century of activity of St. Stanislaus' Parish with its compatriots banded together under the shield of the Catholic Faith gives us a golden page of the deeds of the Poles of Philadelphia. The record of the Polish people in America is well typified by the strength and organization of the pioneers of St. Stanislaus.

The Polish settlement in this section began about the year 1890. The community along the port conrinued to expand due to the presence of work. But the beginnings were very difficult: the Polish people had no knowledge of English, no spiritual ministrations by their own Polish priests; in a word, they were unschooled in the new world. And so they were exploited and oppressed.

As more and more compatriots came here, the Poles began to unite into different societies, associations and clubs which were of a national. religious character. They satisfied their spiritual needs at first in the German and English churches located in the vicinity. The oldest Polish church, St. Laurentius, served the nort ern section of the city, and so was far distant from the growing Polish community in South Philadelphia. It was a rare consolation to attend Polish devotions at St. Laurentius among friends. The situation called for the founding of another Polish parish in Philadelphia.

It was then decided to establish a Polish church in this section. When the Rev. Adalbert Malusecki, pastor of St. Laurentius, learned of this, he sought to obtain a Polish priest who would work among the immigrants of South Philadelphia. A priest. friend of his from Poland, the Rev. Michael Baranski, volunteered to undertake the mission, and the diocesan authorities commissioned him to organize a second Polish parish in Philadelphia. Funds were then collected and plans perfected for the new parish. In the meantime Polish services were held in St. Alphonsus Church at Fourth and Reed streets: The response to the building fund was of the usual Polish generosity. At one meeting $1700 was collected. Such meetings were frequent and within a few months it was possible to buy a former Protestant church at Third and Fitzwater streets. Required remodeling for a Catholic Church was then carried out. This building is our present edifice. In the basement of the building, due to the determination to conduct a school immediately, a few classrooms were partitioned and formed.

We have a list of the first members of the parish, together with their contributions. This list was published on January 5, 1892 by the Rev. Michael Baranski, the first pastor; to it he adds the following: "Here we see not a small number of our compatriots who despite the hard times have made lavish gifts for the House of God. These are the men, the women, and the youths worthy of esteem, whose hearts warmed not only for themselves, but also for their neighbors. Their first love was a church and a school, the two most staunch defenders of faith and patriotism. Would that the most loving God would produce more of such noble fellowmen in our midst. For the gifts to St. Stanislaus Church, we render to each and everyone of our benefactors a sincere - May God reward you".

The first Mass was celebrated in the new church on April 12, 1891. The solemn blessing of the Church took place in May of the same year, the entire Polish population of Philadelphia participating in the ceremony. The administration of the school was entrusted to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. A short while later a house next to the church was acquired as a home for the pastor

The beginnings of the church were difficult: perraps the burden assumed was too heavy. Whatever the cause was, suffice it to say that the independence of the church was threatened. Some members of the parish became discouraged and lost their interest, and as a result parochial unity suffered. Father Baranski worked for over a year in the new parish, and then resigned in 1892. His successor, the Rev. Marian Kopytkiewicz tried to knit the parishioners together by sharing the burden. But more trouble appeared: a fire of unknown origin almost destroyed the church. For a while it seemed to be a blessing in disguise since it aroused the people to a new inreresr in the parish. Rebuilding was undertaken and during the reconstruction the people worshipped in the basement of the neighboring church of St. Philip. The pastor, Father Marian Kopytkiewicz, after a few weeks resigned in favor of his newly-ordained brother, the Rev. Miecislaus Kopytkiewicz.

As a result of the fire further misfortune befell the young parish. Internal disorders and outside intrigue brought about a damaging rift. A faction separated from the main body and formed an independent parish, using a building on Second Street as their church. This building is at present a spragogue. This breach among the people lasted several years and left behind it unpleasant memories.

Discouraged by thesedifficulties, the Rev.. Kopytkiewicz resigned in the year 1898. The Rev. Gabriel Kraus was a temporary administrator. The next pastor appointed by the Archbishop was the Rev. Joseph Lambert, a former chaplain in the Austrian army, who labored in the parish with great sacrifice from the year 1898 to the year 1905. He finished the renovation of the gutted church and it was again blessed and dedicated by the Most Rev. P. J. Ryan, October 25, 1898.

Father Lambert not only rebuilt the church but he also corrected the independent religious spirit of the people. He accomplished this by tact, kindness and good example. Within a short time the independent church was forced to close and its holding liquidated. He won a complete vicctory for the cause of Christ. Father Lambert's zeal is evident elsewhere: during his pastorate $32,000 in debts was paid off, a rectory was built, private houses lying west of the church on Fitzwater Street to Third Street were bought up expanding the parish property, and stained glass windows were installed in the church. The first official assistant to Rev. Joseph Lambert was the Rev. Miecislaus Monkiewicz, who worked energetically in this parish for almost three years from 1901 to 1904.

The parish was now functioning normally with in. dications for a bright future. Unfortunately Father Lambert, after a long illness, died on January 15, 1905, thus ending his indefatigable and fruitful labors. His funeral evinced sincere manifestations from everyone, sorrow was universal. His remains lie buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Pa. The next pastor was the Rev. Dr. Joseph Biela, who already assisted in the parish work during the illness of Father Lambert. To his credit is the erection of the school building. He saw that the space being used in the basement of the church was insufficient for an expanding number of pupils. Because of his efforts a three-story, nine class-room school together with a convent for the sisters was built on the corner of Third and Fitzwater streets at a cost of $40,000. The new school was blessed by Archbishop Prendergast on November 11, 1906; and classes in the building were begun soon after.

Father Biela, due to poor health, was forced to surrender his duties as pastor in the year 1906, and went to Europe to Carlsbad seeking a cure. His temporary successor was the Rev. Anthony Ziebura.

The year 1907 saw the Rev. Stanislaus Frog appointed pastor till his change to McAdoo in 1908. His assistant at this time was the Rev. Joseph Kuczynski, ordained in Louvain in July, 1907.

The next pastor of St. Stanislaus was the Rev. Paul Guzik, who assumed his duties in 1908. During his administration the church building was strengthened and surfaced with cement, an organ was installed in the church and a bell was hung in the tower. The school duriag his time had an average enrollment of five hundred.

Father Guzik emigrated to America in 1897. His first labors were in forming a parish at Fall River, Mass., in 1901. His next pastorship was in Boswell, Pa., where he built a beautiful church. Later he was pastor at Bitumen, Pa., and here he enlarged the church and built a school. While Father Guzik was pastor of St. Stanislaus, he founded Sacred Heart Church in Clifton Heights, Pa, The first pastor at this new parish was the Rev. Anthony Ziebura, who previous to that was assistant to Father Guzik.

In 1911 there was a dual celebration: the twentieth anniversary of the existence of the parish and the twenty-fifth of the ordination of Father Guzik. In the souvenir copy pubished on the occasion of this dual celebration we find that the following societies and confraternities were already active in the parish: The Sacred Heart Confraternity, Our Sorrowful Mother Confraternity, Rosary Confraternity, Most Blessed Sacrament Confraternity, Third Order of St. Francis, the Children of Mary, St. Cecilia's Choir, the Hussars, St. Stanislaus' Cadets, the Youth of St. Aloysius, several groups of St. John Kanty Beneficial Society, two citizen clubs - Kosciuszko and Third Ward Republicans

The successor to Father Guzik was the Rev. Dr. John Godrycz, who was appointed pastor of St. Stanislaus in 1911. During his time the school reached out to cover new ground provided for by the purchase of several houses along Third Street. But the activity of Rev. Dr. Godrycz was not limited to the parish as we can learn from his life.

Father Godrycz was born in Warsaw in 1872. His elementary schooling he obtained there; further studies he continued in London, England; then he studied philosophy at Rome, where he received the degree of doctor of philosophy. As a doctor of philosophy he emigrated to America to teach philosophy in the Polish Seminary in Detroit. There he finished his theological studies and was ordained priest by the Most Rev. J. S. Foley, bishop of Detroit. He possessed three doctorates: philosophy, theology and canon law. He was adopted into the Philadelphia diocese in 1902, being appointed pastor of St. Hedwig's Church, Chester. In 1904 he was made pastor of St. Casimir's Church, Shenandoah, where he remained until 1911, the year of his appointment to St. Stanislaus. While here in Philadelphia, he founded St. John Kanty College, of which he was the principal benefactor and teacher.

Father Godrycz interested himself greatly in works of literature; he was able to speak several languages fluently; he wrote and published a number of valuable books, not only in Polish but also in English and Italian; for a time he edited a Polish weekly newspaper -"Przyjaciel Ludu" - and a monthly magazine in English - "The People's Friend". He was a noted orator, and so was a much-sought after speakeron many occasions. Itwas his honor to welcome His ExceIIency Ignnace Paderewski to Philadelphia during the first World War. President Wilson invited him several times to Washington for consultation about Polish affairs. He was one of the most learned men of his lime, and one of the most celebrated priests in America.

The Rev. Dr. John Godrycz passed to his final reward on February 1, 1923. To his funeral came stranger and friend, religious and lay, from far and near, and even from abroad. Thousands paid their final respects to this eminent priest and well-known patriot, and followed him to his last resting place in Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Pa

. The Rev. Joseph Gaździk was appointed the next pastor of St. Stanislaus, and he took up his pastoral duties on February 21, 1923. Father Gaździk was born on January 6, 1992, in the city Rymanow, Poland. Finishing the school in his native city, and the course of higher studies in Sanok, he studied law in the university of Lwow and theology in the Jagiellonian University of Krakow. Coming to America on the invitation of the Most Rev. Archbishop P. J. Ryan, he finished his studies in the diocesan seminary at Overbrook, Pa., and was ordained priest by the Rt. Rev. Bishop E. F. Prendergast on May 27, 1908. His first appointment was as assistant to St. Laurentius Church, Philadelphia; from there he was made pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Phoenixville, Pa. On October 31, 1911, he was appointed pastor of St. Ladislaus parish in Philadelphia. In 1912 he was transferred to St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in Minersville, Pa., where he built a magnificent church. After five years of fruitful work in this parish he was then called to be pastor of St. Casimir's Church in Mahanoy City, Pa., where he rehabilitated the parochial buildings. Here, at St. Stanislaus, Father Gazdzik renewed the rectory and the sister's home; he enlarged the school, repainted and renewed the whole church, and installed a new organ.

A memorable event of Father Gaździk's pastorate was the blessing of the enlarged school building by the Most Rev. Michad. J. Crane, Auxitiary Bishop fo Philadelphia. Many Polish societies and people fror the entire city participated in the ceremony of dedication. The enlarged school has fifteen classrooms, hall and a stage, kitchen facilities and other necessar: assets. The building serves well the many needs of parochial activity.

In 1933, on May 28, Father Gaździk observed his Silver Jubilee of the priesthood. He celebrated the Jubilee Mass in the presence of His Eminence Cardinal Dougherty and many other church dignitaries as well as in the presence of many lay guests.

Father Gaździk guided the parish well, and so wa promoted in 1937 to St. Mary's Church, Reading, Pa. and later to St. Casimir's, Shenandoah, the oldest Polish parish in the archdiocese. There he is stil working with great fruit for the glory of God and the good of souls.

On June 6, 1937, the Rev. Casimir Ławniczak, pastor of St. Stanislaus Church, Summit Hill, was appointed pastor of St. Stanislaus, Philadelphia. His pastorate brings us up to the time of this writing and to an era in which he, a young priest, active, unusually energetic, tireless, takes a vital and willing part. It is an era of revived Polish patriotism, and Father Ławniczak, by his zealous interest and work, has gained recognition and popularity in near and far circles. During his time we are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of St. Stanislaus' parish, and preserving for posterity through this Jubilee Book the deeds and names of those, who by their efforts merit remembrance.

For the jubilee Father Ławniczak has had a new floor laid in the church, new pews and confessionals installed, interior of the church artistically painted, the sacristy equipped, front doors and exterior of the church refinished. Though more than fifty years old, our church is a most suitable and sturdy building. May this beautiful House of God continue to serve His glory and the edification of the Polish people.


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Last Updated on April 30, 2014