The History of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
1923 - 1945
The history of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish originated in 1921. In that year, a devout group of Polish Americans discussed their wish to build a church where they and their families could worship in their native language and educate their children in the rich traditions of Polish Catholicism.
Their initial requests for a Polish church were rejected by the Archdiocese. The Chancery was not convinced that another parish was needed on Staten Island. Nevertheless, the Polish-Americans persisted in their petitions. After further investigation, the Most Reverend Patrick J. Hayes, Archbishop of New York, granted his permission. On March 12, 1923, he appointed the REVREND JOHN A. GLOSS as Pastor to establish and build the Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka in New Brighton.
Construction began as soon as the legal papers were filed. Many of the parishioners pitched in and helped after working all day. They excavated the ground and built the stone walls and concrete stairs. During this time, the neighboring Church of the Assumption offered the use of its auditorium. There Father Gloss celebrated Masses for his parishioners. Later, Masses were said under a tarpaulin in the sub-basement of the rising new church.
On August 14, 1923, the cornerstone was laid. The following year, October 14 1924, the new Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka was officially consecrated by Cardinal Hayes.
THE DREAM had been FULFILLED into a BLESSED REALITY!
As spiritual leader of his flock, Father Gloss organized his new parish on all levels. He formed the Sacred Heart League, the St. Stanislaus Kostka Society, the St. Cecilia Choir, the Children of Mary Sodality, and the Holy Name Society as well as several Polish-American and sports organizations.
Indeed, Father Gloss proved to be an excellent role model for the large group of altar boys he trained. Six of them entered the priesthood:
MONSIGNOR JOHN KARPINSKI, REVEREND CHESTER MIECZKOWSKI, MONSIGNOR RALPH PAKULNIEWICZ, REVEREND BENJAMIN WASIELEWSKI, MONSIGNOR LEO WASZAK and REVEREND LEO JURAHO.
In 1929, he established a parochial school. The school was staffed by the Sisters of the Resurrection. Many of parishioners had fond memories of the nuns' dedicated teaching during the ten years of school's existence. Sadly, dismal economic conditions forced the school to close in 1939. On the brighter side, three young ladies from the parish entered the Resurrection Order:
SISTER REDEMPTA (SIEMIETKOWSKI. SISTER PAULINE (ZIMNOCH) AND SISTER MARIETTA (GONTAREK).
Father Gloss led his flock through the Depression and World War II. Many young men of the parish left to serve in the Armed Forces. Eight of them lost their lives: Benedict Askins, Joseph Czarniak, Walter Galonsky, Joseph Kostbar, Anthony Lonczynski, Joseph Markowski, Matthew Skowronski and Eugene Wasilewski.
As the parish membership was decreasing, Father Gloss passed away. He was called to Eternal Life on March 30, 1945 at the age of 55.
1945 - 1971
The REVEREND STANISLAUS J. MALINOWSKI succeeded Father Gloss as Pastor. He arrived in April of 1945 when the parish was heavily in debt. Immediately, he proceeded to energize the congregation. He continued the traditional Polish-American customs and services Likewise, he organized the Holy Rosary Society, the Nursemaids of the Blessed Sacrament, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
He worked on reducing the debt by means of bazaars, bingo games, dances, and other fundraising activities sponsored by the united societies of the parish. He was aided in this work by a new Assistant Pastor, the REVEREND ALEXANDER J. HOREMBALA, who was assigned to the parish in April of 1946. For seventeen years, he was a beloved priest of the St. Stanislaus family.
December 31, 1950 was a noteworthy date for St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. On that day Father Malinowski announced to the congregation that the original church debt of $134,000 was completely liquidated. This was recognized by the Chancery as a remarkable accomplishment. About thirteen years later Father Malinowski was elevated to the rank of Monsignor.
Monsignor Malinowski continued to keep the parish debt-free in the face of declining congregation. Upon retiring at age of 70 in July of 1971, he left $250,000 in the parish account to make sure that St. Stanislaus Kostka would continue to exist as a parish.
1971 - 1988
On August 14, 1971, a new chapter began in the history of the parish. His Eminence, Terence Cardinal Cooke appointed the third Pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, MONSIGNOR ARTHUR W. ROJEK.
Monsignor Rojek was born and ordained in Poland. He was a survivor of Buchenwald and Dachau concentration Camps in Germany. Monsignor had a distinguished military career in Europe. After his liberation, he continued his military service and received high honors and decorations. In 1948, he came to the United States and worked in different cities. In 1968, he was incardinated into the Archdiocese of New York by Cardinal Cooke.
Monsignor Rojek organized the parish into a working family. Many parishioners left the neighborhood when their homes were demolished to build the housing project on Jersey Street. As a means of reaching these and other Polish-Americans, he issued a weekly bulletin to keep a line of communication open between the Church and the parishioners, both old and new.
In keeping with the family theme, the St. Stanislaus Social Club was formed in 1972. This club centralized the handling of social and fundraising events. It contributed greatly to the repairs and renovations needed in preparation for the 50th Anniversary of the Church. This joyous occasion was celebrated on October 6, 1973 with Cardinal Cooke officiating.
Known for his hospitality, Monsignor Rojek opened his doors to many of his friends from all over the world. Naturally, the parishioners were honored and pleased to meet them. One occasion stands out above all others in the life of the parish.
In 1976, Monsignor Rojek welcomed a close friend from Poland whom he introduced at Mass. The visitor was Karol Cardinal Wojtyla.
Two years later the VISITOR became POPE JOHN PAUL II
Monsignor was delighted that his friend became the Pope. No doubt, this event imbued Monsignor with an invigorated sense of energy. He continued to serve the parish for about nine more years. His ministry came to an sad close on February 15, 1988 when he entered into immortality.
Following Monsignor Rojek's death, MONSIGNOR LEO WASZAK became an important force in the parish. While living with his sister on Staten Island, he had been assisting Monsignor Rojek with church services and functions. Now, everyone looked to him as the leader of the Polish congregation. Father Richard Guarneri, the Pastor of Assumption Church was named Administrator. In August of 1988, Monsignor Waszak died suddenly of a heart attack.
1988 - 1996
From August to December of 1988, Father Guarnieri not only celebrated daily Mass at St. Stanislaus, but he also managed to have a Polish priest celebrate Mass on Sundays. Father Guarnieri happily announced that we would have a new Parochial Vicar FATHER JOSEPH TOKARCZYK. Father Joseph was here for a short time when Father Guarnieri was transferred. A new Administrator was appointed, the Reverend Robert McCarthy.
Father Mc Carthy, like Father Guarnieri, was very dedicated to St. Stanislaus Kostka. Father Joseph brought new life into the parish as soon as he arrived. A wave of Polish immigrants started attending Mass on Sunday. Improvements in the Church and rectory were made. Father Joseph initiated CCD classes, ESL classes, and a Polish school for the children. He helped the immigrants get established by finding jobs and housing for them. The Church was repainted and a new roof was put on.
Our parish was BUILDING UP again with a lot of new people.
For the first time in many years, we had many baptisms, First Holy Communion, and the Sacrament of Confirmation. Many weddings were also taking place in our Church.
Upon the death of Father Mc Carthy in May of 1994, the Reverend John Pintabone, the Pastor of Assumption Church, was appointed Pastor and Administrator. After everything was getting into a wonderful, normal routine, Father Joseph was transferred to St. Joseph's Church in Florida, New York. Once again, the parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka wondered what the future would hold.
1996 - 2010
On September 21, 1996, our new Parochial Vicar arrived REVEREND MAREK SUCHOCKI. In the short time he has been with us, Father Marek has carried on the parish activities and renovation work begun by Father Joseph.
He has taken new initiatives in every direction to benefit the Church and its parishioners spiritually and materially. Consequently, as a result of his untiring efforts, we now have a beautifully restored Church, a completely renovated auditorium, central air-conditioning and other Church property in good repair. Father Marek has the cooperation and financial support of his flock. Most noteworthy is the generosity of such benefactors as Bernice Potorski, John Dzwonkowski and Emily Ostrowski.
A highlight in Father Marek's career at St. Stan's transpired on November 15, 1998 during the celebration of the 75th Anniversary Mass. John Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York read a letter confirming Father Marek's appointment as Pastor to St. Stan's. This was particularly significant because it indicated that after approximately ten years, our parish was once again independent.
Father Marek continued to focus on making St. Stan's a center for Polish-American life. Along the way he has been assisted by several very talented members of the clergy. Among the latter are BROTHER JERZY KRZYSKOW who came to St. Stan's in 1997 and was here for a year; REVEREND PAWEL SOCHACKI who arrived in 1999 and was part of the St. Stan's family for about three years; REVEREND JACEK PIOTR WOŹNY who came in 2003 and is still with us.
Brother Jerzy was very involved with job placement activities and religious instruction for the children. Father Pawel also enjoyed working with the children. He introduced Children's Mass on Sunday wherein he involved the children in aspects of the Mass.
Besides fulfilling his priestly duties, Father Pawel took an interest in contributing to the Church's decorations for the holidays. Father Pawel's talents extended into the literary realm as he was responsible for the weekly bulletin. Father Jack has brought an artistic touch to the parish while fulfilling his ministry at St. Stan's. Although he has been here about a year on a regular basis, he first started to visit our parish back in 1992.
Under Father Marek's direction, the parish has continued to evolve as a veritable haven for Polish immigrants by providing language and religion classes, health and legal advice, employment counseling, social events, and anything that might help them assimilate into American culture and become good, productive citizens. For the children. he has established the John Paul II School. Here the youngest parishioners are able to study their Polish language and culture and also receive religious instruction in a language they know and understand.
While Father Marek has only been at St. Stan's for seven years, he has brought our parish into contact with some very prominent people on Staten Island. Former Assembly woman Elizabeth Connely and her husband Robert have continued to frequent parish affairs. Likewise, local politicians such as former Councilman Jerome O'Donovan and Councilman Michael McMahon have not only attended parish activities, but have been instrumental in helping the parish obtain grants for different educational and immigration programs. In addition, Father Marek has likewise witnessed our parish's notoriety in the Polish community when two members of our congregation were selected Grand Marshals of the Annual Pulaski Parade: the late Emilie LiGreci and Prof. Krystyna Wisniewski. Like his predecessors before him, Father Marek has a deep sense of Polish pride and commitment to the Polish community.
2010 - Present
Parishioners were surprised by the decision of Father Marek Suchocki about his resignation from the parish priest in 2010. We will not know now whether it was the prayers of the faithful or the prudence and foresight of His Excellency Cardinal Timothy Dolan that allowed him to appoint Father Jacek Woźny as parish administrator on November 1, 2010. Father Jacek had already made himself known and liked during his earlier work in our community. He was also close to the daily troubles of "islanders", as he had tirelessly carried out his pastoral work in parishes on Staten Island.
One of the first decisions taken is the establishment of a parish council , as an advisory and decision-making voice on all plans and projects concerning the parish. And these were to be considerable. Despite the difficult financial situation and inherited debt, a time of vigorous ordering of parish affairs begins. Thanks to the great commitment of the faithful, the most urgent renovations are made. The windows at the front of the church are restored and secured, the new bathroom is a relief to all, and the renovation of the auditorium and the new sound system convince the faithful that, with sacrificial commitment, the fruits of cooperation will not have to wait long. This is probably also recognized by Cardinal Timothy Dolan in his official appointment on 4 X 2011, officially appointing Fr. Jacek Woźny as parish priest, sending a clear signal that our community has a strong foundation for self-sufficiency.
The church not only looks better and better, but also fills with singing. The indefatigable organist Alicja Kenig-Stola created the parish choir in 2011, and a children's schola under the care of Katarzyna Gorzelska and Wioletta Zakrzewska is also being formed. Fr. Jacek's undoubted creative passion leads him to introduce art classes for children. And we see more and more children and their smiles in the church. After the written resignation of Principal Ewa Wisniewska, as a result of the competition held, Aneta Jedynasty becomes the new principal of the Polish School. The reform of teaching with the division into age groups of grades 1-8 is undertaken . Work and responsibilities are increasing. As of January 2012, Father Marcin Kuperski arrives at the parish and helps with many activities until July 2013.
On the feast of Corpus Christi 2012. Mariusz Tutka is called to the functions of extraordinary Eucharistic Minister. His exemplary attitude means that other parishioners will soon follow in his footsteps. In Corpus Christi 2019, Andrzej Gorzelski is appointed to the functions of Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, and in 2021. Waldemar Dębicki.
In 2012, Rev. Jacek Wozny is appointed Pulaski Parade marshal and leads the Polish community of Staten Island along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, our region and especially Staten Island and its residents suffer the calamity of Hurricane "Sandy". Many are severely affected by the element , so 60 families receive temporary assistance. In these difficult times, a difficult decision is made to renovate 8 stained glass windows in the church. This laborious and extremely precise work was completed in 2019, and from now on it pleases our eyes with its sun-dappled glow.
In 2013, the celebration of the parish's 90th anniversary coincides with the 25-year anniversary of Father Jacek Wozny's priestly ministry. The Polish community around 109 York Ave. is becoming more and more integrated. In December 2013 the first parish Christmas Eve is held, which fills our auditorium to the brim. Closer and closer ties among the parishioners are being established, which influenced a group of parishioners to travel together to Rome for the canonization of John Paul II in 2014. At that time also began efforts to obtain the relics of John Paul II from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. A special reliquary made by religious brothers in Krakow is also being ordered. On September 14, 2014, Archbishop Edward Nowak performed the ceremonial installation of the relics of St. John Paul II in our temple, in a specially renovated chapel. From May 2, 2015 begins the pelegrination of the relics of St. John Paul II - the patron saint of families of our parish. In 2014, a group of Living Rosary is established. The decision to thoroughly renovate the church is also slowly maturing. In 2015, the restoration of the chancel begins, and in June 2016 work begins on the general renovation of the church. Masses are being celebrated in the auditorium during this time.
An incredibly sincere big-hearted gesture on the part of the late Emily Ostrowski was the donation in her will of funds for the purchase and installation of a new organ for the church's choir. They were dedicated by Bishop Tadeusz Litynski. The Bishop also has a great surprise for everyone-18 September 2016 during his visit to our parish Father Jacek is appointed, with the approval of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, "Honorary Canon of the Gorzow Cathedral Chapter".
In 2016, Dorota Zaniewska becomes the director of the Polish School. Cooperation with the Central Polish Supplementary Schools deepens, and our students take part in competitions and contests among Polish children of the US East Coast. The scope of teaching is soon expanded to include a high school class. The involvement of parents, class triplets, results in new friendships, and the organization of school trips and countless academies and celebrations form the heart of our community. Staged in 2019, the Nativity play "And Let Hope Rise Again in Us" with the great commitment of teachers and parents will undoubtedly go down in history.
Trips to the highly informative biblical performances in Lancaster are organized every year and are very popular. Parishioners also decide to test themselves in bigger, joint cognitive challenges, and so our faithful go with "Biblus" (the big mascot of the Children's Mass) to Rome, make a pilgrimage to Mexico and Guadalupe. They pray together in Cuzco, Macchu Picchu but also in the high Andes, where in a village forgotten by everyone it seems, representatives of our St. John Paul II school are entertained with a miraculous performance by Andean children from a school named after, yes of course - St. John Paul II. The wonderful atmosphere and friendliness will make the last trip to Rome in October 2022 is snatched up immediately. During this pilgrimage, in a general audience, Pope Francis blessed crowns for Our Lady of Czestochowa as a votive offering of thanksgiving for the parish's centennial. The faithful made a pilgrimage in the footsteps of relics and saints at Assisi, Lanciano, Loretto, Manopello and Monte Cassino. There, flowers were solemnly laid at the Polish Cemetery where "a Pole with honor took his vow" "because freedom is measured by crosses."
The life of the parish, which brings together a mostly hard-working Polish community, is not only about prayer and chores, but also about spending time together relaxing and having fun. Crowds of Poles and their friends come to the annual Polish Festival in Snug Harbor. Everyone finds their favorite Polish dishes, there are many attractions for children, fair booths encourage with their colorfulness, and from the big stage artists entertain us with music and performances. The preparation of this event, is also the great generosity of many parishioners. There is also always the fear that the weather will thwart all plans. Just like Hurricane "Irene" in 2011. However, it must be admitted that the heavens are rather kind to us. In 2020, the festival was held in online form, thanks to the involvement and help of Rampa radio. In 2021, it was not held at all due to pandemic restrictions. We are now preparing for the 14th Polish Festival with great hope.
Covid-19 came in 2020 suddenly and unexpectedly. It shook the lives of people around the world. Churches deserted for the first time in centuries. Faced with an epidemic unknown to anyone, everyone begins to fear for the health and even life of themselves and their relatives, friends, acquaintances. So the decision to close the church to the faithful in March 2020 is accepted with understanding. Very quickly, however, contact is established with the faithful via the Internet. Every Sunday on the parish website one could attend Mass in Polish and English. In the privacy of their homes, parishioners could watch their pastor celebrating Mass for them. Unfortunately, Father Jacek could only see photographs of his faithful placed in the pews. As of the end of June, the restrictions are loosening and, little by little, masses with the faithful can be attended in greater numbers. The following months are a difficult time of rebuilding a community dispersed by the pandemic.
On October 2, 2022, the solemn commencement of the parish's 100th anniversary celebrations is being made by Bishop Tadeusz Lityński. At this moment, it is our duty to remember this group of Poles from New Brighton who petitioned the Manhattan Curia for the establishment of a Polish parish back in 1916. At a time when Poland did not even exist yet! How much strength, determination, faith and will there must have been in these people to cultivate Polish culture, language, customs and prayer, and to do so in the terrible times of World War I. Would we have the courage to look them in the eye now? Would our actions gain the approval of those several generations of Poles who built, maintained and developed our temple even in the worst times of wars and recession? Looking at the building of our church there, we don't see big granite, columns or steel structures. Only small, inconspicuous bricks, each of which with their attitude, work and unshakeable strength maintain our church. Just like our faithful.
100 years have passed, and we can feel honored to be the ones to hold these anniversary celebrations, paying tribute to all those of our predecessors who, perhaps somewhere up there, bestow upon us at least the merest smile. A good start is certainly the decision of the President of Poland Andrzej Duda, who, in November 2022, during the celebration of Independence Day, honors Rev. Jacek Woźny with the Golden Cross of Merit at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York, which he receives from the hands of Consul General Mateusz Gmura.