Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Aug
  • 29

Living the faith at St. Stanislaus for 100 years

Posted By August 29, 2013 | 12:48 pm | Lead Story #1
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By Tanya Connor

WEST WARREN – St. Stanislaus Parish is about living the faith  – in various ways.
The bishop, pastor, and parishioners from here and nearby made that clear Saturday at St. Stanislaus’ 100th anniversary Mass and reception.
Culture also plays a role.
Polish immigrants came here with few material goods, but with a faith that sustained people in Poland even when their nation ceased to exist, Bishop McManus said.
“What great gifts Poland has given to the Church,” he said, mentioning St. Stanislaus and Blessed John Paul II. “Your history … a history of faith,” he said, and spoke of sacraments celebrated at St. Stanislaus. “Your past is a glorious one.”
The parish was established “to lead as many souls as possible to heaven, to save them from hell,” Father Daniel J. Becker, pastor of St. Stanislaus and St. Paul Parish in Warren, said in his homily. He said the Mass was offered for the repose of the souls of deceased parishioners and priests.
He preached about the day’s Gospel (Lk 13:22-30), in which Jesus was asked, “Will only a few people be saved?” Jesus responded, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many … will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
Father Becker said today’s “new religion” that says everyone is saved, is heresy. The Catholic Church is a muscular Church, where people grow strong to enter heaven, he said, recalling sacrifices of days gone by and calling for prayer, good works and self denial. He told of the martyr St. Stanislaus confronting the king to save the king’s soul.
“What are you and I willing to do?” he asked.
“God wishes that everyone will be saved,” and provides “all we need” for salvation, Bishop McManus said. “Every one of us in the Church has the obligation to bring the person of Christ to others.”     Speaking of St. Jean Vianney offering to show a boy the way to heaven, he said, “Father Becker, that is your job: to show your people the way to heaven.” He told the people they are blessed to have such a pastor.
Witold Misiaszek told The Catholic Free Press that when he “retired” he started serving daily Mass at St. Stanislaus, though he’s a member of St. Paul’s, or actually St. Thomas Aquinas, which merged with St. Paul’s in 2007. Asked if he liked St. Stanislaus, he replied, “I like Father.”
“I like our priest – a wonderful, wonderful man,” said Stephen Fountain, a St. Paul’s parishioner who attends the Lord’s Day vigil Mass at St. Stanislaus. “He’s strict, in a good way, adamant about keeping people on the right track.” He said the pastor gives passionate homilies, and gets people’s attention.
“He doesn’t only get your attention, but he holds it,” said Mr. Fountain’s father, Clifford Fountain, adding that he’s been attending St. Stanislaus for years.
Years ago there was a frequent turnover of pastors, said Sally Misiaszek, who was baptized and grew up here.
“They weren’t attached to the priests,” she said of parishioners; “They were attached to Christ. … We had a lot of devotions.” On Sundays in May they honored Mary. June was to celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Lent saw the singing of Lamentations.
“Polish tradition brought from Poland was embraced in America,” she said. “And it was easy because everybody knew those prayers and devotions by heart.”
There were personal devotions too.
“My mother said we used to stop in every day” at the church, Mrs. Misiaszek said of when she herself was about 2. “I was enamored with the statues.”
“I don’t think there’s a nicer church to pray in,” said Melanie Dusza. She said she grew up in St. Stanislaus and went to St. Paul’s for awhile. But when she married, her husband wanted to go to a Polish church. So they came to St. Stanislaus.
“I like it just as well,” she said. “My mother brought me up that God is everywhere.”
“I think I like it because it’s Polish and I’m Polish,” said her daughter, Louise Mundell, a parishioner for all of her 61 years, and organizer of Saturday’s reception. “I like to see Our Lady of Czestochowa and that comes from Poland.”
“There’s a lot of faith, a lot of spirit, in this parish,” said Marie LaPalm, of St. Paul’s. “I just like being here. It feels like home – the brightness, the flowers. … I feel very spirit-filled here. It’s the people too; they have such a wonderful culture and they carry that faith with them. I’m not Polish, but I’m Polish at heart.”
She said she belonged to the choir at St. Paul’s, then the one at St. Stanislaus, when it existed. Choir members were excited to be back for the anniversary Mass, which people from all three parishes attended, she said.
“We’re all one community, and this is the way it should be,” she said.
Mary Ann Sablack said she’s been a member of St. Stanislaus for all of her 73 years.
“It’s unbelievable this church is here 100 years,” she said.
She and Linda Dusza recalled Polish picnics at St. Stanislaus Club Pavilion, where outdoor Masses were celebrated.
Kathleen Koziol said when she was growing up at St. Stanislaus, which her grandparents helped build, if you didn’t get to church early, you didn’t get a seat.
Father Charles J. Chwalek built the church hall, she said.
An April 8, 1955 Catholic Free Press article describes the process in detail.
“None of the more than 75 volunteer parish workers who labored on the construction – with the possible exception of … the pastor – are carpenters or builders in the professional sense…” it says.     “And the sturdy 66 by 40 foot, two-story cinder block and cement building they erected was completed on a $10,000 budget.”
It says Father Chwalek sent parishioners a “friendly letter” about the project.
“Now don’t get scared, true the figure looks colossal but not if we break it down,” he said in what appears to be that letter. “If you don’t want to give – please don’t give and don’t criticize or complain – because that is an offense against God and His goodness – if you give more, then you have a right to talk; if you give nothing, say nothing. That is fair don’t you think so?”
It wasn’t the first time the pastor had tackled parish building needs. An Oct. 23, 1953 Catholic Free Press article tells how Bishop Wright was to bless the new side altars and shrine on Oct. 25, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the founding of the parish (by Father Valeran Fligier in 1913).
Father Chwalek designed and carved the altars to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Mother and shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa and parishioners donated family jewels for the shrine, and renovated the church, the article says.