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St. Valentine Parish - Bronx NY

A brief parish history from the 1940 Golden JubileeBook

It is said that the first early Polish settlers came into this section of the Bronx, as early as 1871. The family of Valentine Suchy settled in the vicinity of present East 222nd St.

At the time there was no Polish Church in the Bronx where these people could attend Mass and receive the Sacraments. The nearest Polish Church was St. Stanislaus' located at the time on Stanton St., New York. The Poles from the Bronx journeyed downtown every Sunday to hear Mass. Some of them, on the' other hand, attended a German Church in Mount Vernon.

When a sufficient number of Polish people settled here, they began to make plans for building their own Church. They bought a tract of land on East 226thSt. between White Plains Road and Carpenter Ave. Having obtained the land, they went to Archbishop Corrigan to ask permission for building a church. The Archbishop advised to buy a plot of ground further away from St. Mary's Church, which was the neighboring parish, and he would grant the permission. Immediately a plot of ground was bought where the present church is situated at East 221st St.

Reverend Jerome Klimecki was then appointed pastor of the new parish and Valentine Suchy and Stephen Klonder were the first trustees. The work progressed rapidly and in July of the year 1890 the first mass was celebrated in St. Valentine's Church by Father Klimecki. The first boys to serve that first mass were, The Rev. John Suchy, now deceased and his brother Joseph Suchy, the present undertaker and parishioner of St. Valentine's Parish. Two years later, the rectory was built and also school was opened in the basement of the Church.

Father Klimecki was succeeded by Father F. X. Fremel who took charge for a short time being succeeded by Fathers Flannelly, Michnowski, Gajduszek. In April of 1894 the Rev. Joseph Dworzak, D.D. now Right Reverend Monsignor and pastor of St. Casimir's Church, Yonkers, N. Y. came to Williamsbridge. For nine years Father Dworzak labored in Williamsbridge accomplishing many great things in the Parish. In 1902 Father Dworzak went to Europe to visit his family. During his absence, the Rev. Joseph Brzoziewski was in charge. He is now pastor of St. Adalbert's Church, Staten Island.

In January of 1903, Father Dworzak was assigned to Yonkers. Father Kominek succeeded Father Dworzak and after him Father Anthony Jakubowski took over the parish in Williamsbridge. He was the pastor of St. Valentine's for nine years. Father Jakubowski was then appointed pastor of St. Anthony's Church in Staten Island, and Father Charles B. Czarkowski took his place in St. Valentine's. Father Czarkowski made many improvements in the parish. During his time steam heat was installed in the church and rectory and also electricity was installed. He also bought some additional lots next to the Church.

In 1921, Father Czarkowski went to Europe. He was succeeded by Father Francis Mlynarski who was pastor until 1937. Father Mlynarski built the convent for the sisters and the parish hall. He renovated the church and improved the rectory. He also established St. Valentine's Parish Park.

On September 24, 1936, the old church was destroyed by fire. This was a serious blow to the people of the parish but they were not discouraged. At once they began to build a new church. Mass was then celebrated in the parish hall. During that year Father Stanislaus Malinowski was sent to St. Valentine's as an assistant. However, he was promoted after a brief stay at St. Valentine's to the pastor ship at Kingston, N. Y.

The work of building a new church required a young energetic priest to be in charge. The authorities therefore, assigned Rev. Francis P. Borowski as pastor and Father Mlynarski was given a chaplain's position in Lincoln Agricultural School at Lincolndale, N. Y. Later he was given another position at St. Ursula's Novitiate in Hidden Brook, Beacon, N. Y.

Father Borowski took up the work where Father Mlynarski left off. He continued to build the church which was blessed by His Eminence Patrick Cardinal Hayes on May 8, 1938. That same year another assistant was assigned to St. Valentine's. Father Joseph Sokolewicz was the new curate.

In 1940, the parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee, which began in February 1940 and was concluded in February 1941. The main celebration of the Jubilee was held June 9, 1940 when His Excellency Archbishop Francis Spellman presided at a Solemn Mass.

In June of 1940, Father Sokolewicz was transferred to St. Clemens Mary Church at West 40th Street and he was succeeded by Rev. Michael Kowalczyk, who is the present curate.

Father Borowski has accomplished many things in the parish of St. Valentine's. With the cooperation of his good parishioners he was able to complete the beautiful church and set the parish to greater progress. Not only did he fulfill his duties as pastor but is also fulfilling the duties of an army chaplain. At present he is on duty with the 12th Cavalry in Fort Bliss, EI Paso, Texas. He is still the pastor of St. Valentine's Church. During his absence, his curate, Rev. Michael Kowalczyk, is continuing the parish work.

This is but a brief history of St. Valentine's Church, yet it is filled with interesting facts that stand witness to the loyalty and devotion of the parishioners. It is proper to congratulate them on their noble achievements and also to acknowledge the good work of all the priests who were here in this parish and labored so well for the Lord. On this occasion one cannot refrain from saying, "May God Bless St. Valentine's Parish, its priests and its good people".

Rev. Francis P. Borowski, Pastor
Rev. Michael F. Kowalczyk, curate

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Last Updated on October 20, 2011