Thursday, March 26, 2009

First Mass at St. Stanislaus Kostka, 1914

Back in 1988, Ted Borys gave the historical society a Polish Bible that had belonged to his mother, Caroline. Jan Gustafson was recently making a new box for it, and in the back we discovered a handful of lovely old prayer cards. One in particular caught our attention -- a card printed in France with an English verse on one side and a Polish text on the other. No one here can read Polish, but we could certainly read the words “Hastings-on-Hudson” and “St. Stanislaus Kostka.”

A Polish friend of archivist Muriel Olsson made a rough translation for us, and we found that the card was, in fact, a souvenir made to commemorate the consecration of the church. The text reads:

For the first church of St. Stanislaus Kostka
in Hastings on
Hudson, NY
on Sunday June 14, 1914
[blessing] was given by Father
J.F. Mooney [Vicar General of the Archdiocese of New York]

The first
holy mass in this church was given by Father Dr. J. Dworzak and Father K.

The text goes on to say that Father Dworzak [of St. Casimir’s Church in Yonkers] founded the congregation on September 1, 1912, and that it was incorporated on May 19, 1913. The building was bought on December 19, 1913 for $3,000 from the Baptist Church by parishioners J. Jarosz, T. Maslowski, B. Karnicki, and A. Kowalski.

This card was an exciting discovery because it complements five small photographs in our collection that show the procession to the church on this important day. St. Stanislaus’ 90th anniversary booklet describes this procession. Paderewski’s Band was playing as the marchers left Washington Avenue, crossed the bridge, and streamed up Main Street. The new congregation included over a hundred children, and the little girls dressed in white appear to have led the procession. (The Polish Military Association of Yonkers also participated, which may explain the photograph of men with rifles.)

The procession coming across the Warburton Avenue bridge

The procession on Warburton Avenue, nearing Main Street

Shooting rifles

Crowds at the entrance to the church. Father Mooney gave the blessing in front of 3,000 people before the congregation entered the church for Mass

One of the other cards found in Caroline’s Bible is dated 1912. Is the date just a coincidence, or could this be a souvenir of the founding of the congregation mentioned on the first card?

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