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St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church,

1914-2000


 

          In 1966 Poland celebrated its Millennium -the One - Thousandth Anniversary of Christianity in Poland. One who knows anything about the Polish Nation and its history, cannot but see how deeply the Faith had been implanted in the hearts of the Polish People. Tossed and battered, free and enslaved, very often a pawn. Freedom loving and a religious people, they began to seek the inalienable rights in other countries. Many chose to come to America and settled here in these United States, making a new life for themselves and their families.

          When many of the Polish people arrived in Binghamton, they settled for the most part in the First Ward of the City. In those days there were no paved roads and side-walks were wooden up to Jarvis St. They worked hard for a living. In 1907 their pay was seventy - five cents per day, for a ten hour day, of five dollars for a sixty hour week. They walked to work.

          Because there was no church for people of Polish descent here, many of these early settlers moved to other cities. When about twenty-eight families had settled here, wishing to preserve a strong faith for their families, desiring to continue in the religious traditions of daily living, keeping alive the religious customs they brought with them from Poland, and because of the language differences they encountered, the men set out to organize a parish.

          They formed a Holy Trinity Society, for the purpose of coordinating their efforts to establish a National Parish for their own needs. The Rev. Francis Rusin, then Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Syracuse, NY, was appealed to for assistance. Desiring to help his fellow countrymen, he made a personal visit to Binghamton, and investigated the territory. He soon realized the need of spiritual care for these people, and with a delegation of faithful from this city, took up this matter with the Most Rev. Bishop Ludden, Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse. In the meantime, he sent his assistant, Rev. Michael Dzialuk at different intervals, to minister to the needs of these people, especially during the Holy season of Lent.

          During this time, a platform, costing two hundred dollars, had been built in a lot on Sowden Street, mid-way between Glenwood Ave. and Pulaski Street. There, outdoor dances were held regularly to raise funds for the purchase of land for a Church. On the advice of the Rev. Francis Rusin, the name given to the parish was that of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, a young Polish Jesuit Priest; who died young and was canonized a Saint of the Universal Church.

          When a sufficient amount of funds had been gathered to give the young parish a good start, the land purchased for the site of the permanent church, was all the land now covered by the parish property in Prospect Street. On June 10,1914, Bishop John Grimes granted permission to erect a parish of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, and appointed the Rev. Michael Dzialuk as the first Pastor. Father Dzialuk, a man of dynamic personality and tremendous zeal, had the men of the parish erect walls around the platform in Sowden Street, and put on a roof. In two days' time the small building was ready for use as the first Church of the New Parish.

          The First Mass was said in the quickly fabricated Church by Father Dzialuk on Sunday, June 21,1914. Ordinary chairs took the place of pews; an organ was borrowed from the Stolarczyk family and Joseph Kangiser played it as the first organist of the parish. On Sundays, before the High Mass, which at times was late in commencing, Father Dzialuk, in his zeal for souls, would draw aside the curtain which separated the sacristy from the main body of the church, to see if a group of parishioners had arrived, by trolley from Endicott.

          This humble beginning was only a temporary church. Once the people of Polish extraction saw that a Polish Church was established, more and more of them began to settle here. Seeing this and rejoicing, Father Dzialuk knew what he had to do to be able to take care of the souls entrusted to his care. He began collecting funds for a new, permanent Church. With willing and sincere parishioners, plus a donation of $5,000 from the Endicott-Johnson Corporation, he set out to build the permanent Church.

          On June 29, 1914, Father Dzialuk directed his men parishioners in digging a foundation for the brick church which was to be erected on Prospect Street. Women also gave a hand and did some digging. There were no machines and digging was done by shovel and even by bare hands. When available money ran out, work was held up. For one year work was at a standstill until Father Dzialuk was able to negotiate a loan from a bank in Utica, N. Y.

          Bishop John Grimes, Ordinary of the Diocese of Syracuse, blessed the corner stone for the new combination building at 370-374 Prospect Street on July 9, 1915. One year later, on July 4, 1916, Bishop Grimes dedicated the new building and Father Dzialuk had the joy of singing the First High Mass in the new Church.

          Now that a Polish Parish was organized to serve the spiritual needs of the people, and because a parochial school was being planned, more people came and settled here. Soon the parish numbered one hundred families. In 1917, because of the efforts of Father Dzialuk and the wishes of his parishioners, the Felician Sisters of the Buffalo Province arrived hereto teach in the parochial School. With the parochial school functioning, the parish continued to grow and the future of the parish and the faith of the people was assured. The pioneers of the parish, the faithful apostles of freedom, faith and liberty, were happy to see that a community of freedom loving Poles was definitely established in the Triple Cities. Early Parishioners lived in Binghamton, Johnson City, Endicott, Endwell, Town of Dickinson, Whitney Point, Lisle, Chenango Forks, Chenango Bridge, in fact, in all of Broome and Chenango Counties.

          Not too long after the end of WWI, the news of Father Dzialuk's transfer, on October 24, 1920, was received by the parishioners with much sadness. During the seven years of his pastorate the parish was marked with a definite physical and spiritual growth. More and more families moved into the area and joined the parish. The number of children attending the parochial school pushed upward. Along with this physical growth the parishioners also grew spiritually. Greater numbers began to take an active interest and part in the spiritual devotions, programs, and societies.

          With the departure of Father Michael Dzialuk to his new assignment as Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Utica, NY, the parish received the Rev. John Sciskalski as the second Pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Father Sciskalski was sent here by the Most Rev. Bishop John Grimes because of his ability of organization. He was responsible for the founding of parishes in Maine and New York States. A priest of fiery and apostolic zeal for Christ and souls, Father Sciskalski presented himself to his new parishioners fully aware of the tremendous problems he had to face. Working conditions were not the best, a small number of families, and mounting costs. Undaunted by this and because of his tremendous faith in Divine Providence and his exceptional drive, he set out to remedy this as best as could be done.

          With the increased enrollment of children in school, it was necessary to ask for more teaching Sisters. Since the number of Sisters teaching increased from 2 to 6, a convent building became a necessity. Father Sciskalski, in his zeal for those who also serve Christ by teaching, built a very beautiful and large convent for the Sisters. The cost was high, but the convent was a necessity.

          After seven years of hard work under very trying conditions and because of his qualities of deep zeal for souls and that certain impelling drive to push on spiritually plus an extraordinary oratory ability, Father Sciskalski, on Nov. 17, 1927, was appointed Pastor to a Polish Parish in Oswego. Bishop Curley deemed it fitting to have Father Sciskalski employ his talents in consolidating the faith of the people at Saint Stephen 's Church in Oswego, NY

          The third Pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, appointed by Bishop Curley on Nov. 17; 1927, was the Rev. Casimir S. Piejda. This period in the history of the Parish was perhaps the most difficult to contend with. Not only in the parish were there difficulties but it was the same throughout the entire country. With the fall of the stock market and the resulting ills of depression, troubles began to appear everywhere. In the parish there was no exception. Thanks to the efforts of Father Sciskalski and the continuing endeavors of Father Piejda, much of the strife, which dominated this era, was eliminated.

          Father Piejda, a noble patriot and a man of great piety and extraordinary zeal, concentrated much of his time in paying off the parish debt. As a Pastor he was highly successful and devoted a major portion of his work to molding the character of the youths in our parochial school. In accordance with the motto that "in unity there is strength!" he very capably organized various Church Societies. To him has been given the credit for the largest Holy Name Society in the Triple Cities.

          As a Pastor, Father Piejda set out to eliminate the plight and the difficulties of travel of the Endicott Parishioners. As a Priest, full of zeal for the spiritual needs of souls, he set out to erect a Mission Church in Endicott. The necessary permission to organize a parish was requested and granted by His Excellency The Most Rev. Daniel Curley. The formal dedication of St. Casimir's Parish Church took place on Oct. 25,1931.

          Until June of 1936 St. Casimir's, in Endicott, NY, remained a mission Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka. The Spiritual and financial administrators of the new parish were Father Piejda, his Assistant Pastor, Father Francis S. Holocinski and then Father John A. Kociela. On June 15, 1936, Rev. John A. Kociela, Assistant Pastor at St. Stanislaus Kostka, was assigned the first resident Pastor of St. Casimir's. On September 15, 1939, Bishop Walter A. Foery appointed Father Piejda as Pastor of. Sacred Heart Church in Syracuse, N. Y.

          As the parish began to increase in parishioners, it was necessary to apply to the Bishop for extra help to care for the spiritual needs of the people. Assistants were assigned at this time to aid the Pastors in their duties. The First Assistant Pastor assigned was Father Francis S. Holocinski. Other Assistant Pastors who followed were: The Rev. John A. Kociela; The Rev. Charles Kazmierczyk; The Rev. Theodore Wojcikowski; The Rev. Peter J. Koleczek; The Rev. Stanley P. Macewicz; The Rev. Joseph Prugar; The Rev. Boleslaus Dutkiewicz; Rev. Casimir Krzysiak; Rev. Richard Stuczko; Rev. Peter W. Gleba and Rev. Leo J. Kalinowski. The second twenty-five years of the parish, or the years from 1939 to the 1964, were characterized by the wonderful, eager, sacrificing spirit of the people and the continuing tremendous zeal of the priests who served this parish. It was during this time that the New Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church came into being.

          On Sept. 15, 1939, the Rev. George Guzewicz was appointed by Bishop Walter A. Foery as the fourth pastor of this parish. Under his capable pastorate, the balance of the parish debt was erased. Debt free, the parish took on new vigor and set out to redecorate, remodel and plan for the future expansion of the Parish. From 1940 to 1952 extensive improvements were made throughout the parish plant.

          After all the necessary repairs and improvements were made, the parishioners of St. Stanislaus undertook one of their greatest drives. The goal of this drive was to accumulate sufficient funds to erect a separate Church building and to convert the existing Church auditorium into classrooms. Because of the generous hearts of the Parishioners and sufficient funds on hand to begin the task of constructing the New Church, Father Guzewicz approached the Most Rev. Bishop Foery for permission to begin the construction of the New St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Permission was granted. March 16, 1953, the long awaited and glorious day for all the parishioners, saw the Bishop, Priests, and others break ground for the new Church One year and seven months later, a New Church of modern Gothic Design, of limestone and brick.

          On the Feast of Christ the King, Oct. 31, 1954, His Excellency, Bishop Walter A. Foery, Ordinary of Syracuse, dedicated the Corner Stone and the Church That morning, the First Solemn High Mass, in the presence of the Bishop, was celebrated by the Pas tor, the Rev. George Guzewicz. An overflow crowd of joyous, proud parishioners was present. Visitors inspected and admired the new building throughout the day.

          The four years between 1954 and 1959, again, were years of sacrifice on the part of the parishioners. They wished to see the completion of their goal, the renovation of the combination church-school building into a modern, new school. Funds were gathered in every way. Donations, Card Parties, even at weddings and other affairs, collections were taken up for the benefit of the new school. At a special meeting, held at the Rectory, on June 23, 1960, it was unanimously voted to alter the combination church-school building at 370-374 Prospect Street, into a complete School building. The resolution was approved by Bishop Foery and work was begun on July 8, 1960.

          In the years following 1964, Father Albin Majdanik served as Pastor, followed by Father Mathew Wieczorek and Father John Mikalajunas. The Parish remains proud in their Polish heritage and strong in their faith.

                                                       


      For additional info contact Steve Litwin.

      For more information on Broome County's Polish population, visit   Steve's webpage.

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