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St. Stanislaus at 171 Chestnut Street, Chelsea, MA 02150 US - St. Stanislaus Parish Marks 100th Anniversary

St. Stanislaus Parish Marks 100th Anniversary

Pastor Rev. Grelak (left) and Archbishop O'Malley
On a windy and blustery autumn Sunday, parishioners, clergy past and present, and all invited guests gather into St. Stanislaus church to celebrate its greatest achievement yet – one hundred years of service to the Polish community. On Sunday October 16th a special Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated with the archbishop of Boston Seán P. O’Malley O.F.M. Cap. as the main celebrant. Along with Archbishop O’Malley, a number of past and present clergy came together to celebrate this joyous day. These included: Msgr. John Abucewicz, Msgr. Sanisław Kempa, Rev. Francisco Anzoategui, Rev. James Barry, Rev. Louis Bilicky, Rev. David Green, Rev. Mirek Kowalczyk, F.D.P., Rev. Joseph Lukas, Rev. Terrance J. Moran, Rev. Anthony Nguyen, Rev. Stanley Parfienczyk, Rev. John Wronski S.J, and Rev. Andrew Grelak, the current pastor of St. Stanislaus parish. The Franciscan Fathers who served St. Stanislaus Parish for over ninety years were also well represented. They included: Rev. Roman Chwaliszewski OFM Conv, Rev. Germain Kopaczynski OFM Conv, Rev. Paul Miskiewicz OFM Conv, Rev. Mirosław Podymniak OFM Conv, Rev. Janusz Chmielecki OFM Conv, Rev. Conrad Salach OFM Conv, and Rev. Raphael Zwolenkiewicz OFM Conv. Many of the clergy that returned to St. Stanislaus for this celebration were former assistants to the parish. The one hundred year old history of St. Stanislaus parish can be traced back to the first Polish immigrants who came to Chelsea. The first Polish immigrants landed as early as 1864. This was followed by an increase of immigration and by 1880 a great number of new arrivals appeared. Many of the immigrants began their new life in America working long and tireless hours in factories with poor working conditions. Along with bringing a drive for hard work and determination, the Polish immigrants brought with them their devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. This devotion was seen by many including the pastor of St. Rose Church Rev. William F. Power. It was at St. Rose Church that the early immigrants attended masses and services. This devotion was also seen by the Very Rev. Hyacinth Fudzinski, Provincial of the Franciscan Fathers who often came to Chelsea to administer the sacraments and celebrate mass for the Polish people. Fr. Fudzinski’s mind was surely made-up that the Polish people needed their own church when during Christmas time, 250 people welcomed Fr. Fudzinski from Buffalo. They stood in the pouring rain, drenched to the skin. A building fund was soon set up and donations of twenty-five cents were made on a weekly basis from each Polish working family in Chelsea. After the purchase of the Chestnut Street Congregational Church, the first mass was held at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church on Sunday July 2nd, 1905. One week later, the Polish community was introduced to their first pastor Fr. Jerzy Jaskolski OFM Conv. Fr. Jaskolski would be the first of many conventual Franciscans that would staff the parish for some ninety years. Fr. Jaskolski was a very young and energetic pastor who improved the parish by purchasing a home used as a rectory and setting up the first parochial school. Tragedy struck the Polish community on Palm Sunday (April 12th) 1908 when the great Chelsea fire roared through the city. This fire ravaged and destroyed many buildings in its path, including St. Stanislaus Church. Along with the destruction of the church, the rectory was also destroyed. With the church still ablaze, Fr. Jaskólski risked his life by running into the burning building and removing the Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Jaskólski was also able to save the baptismal records and other important parish books and documents before the rectory was destroyed. The Chelsea Fire and the destruction of the church did not discourage the Polish people of Chelsea. Under the leadership of Fr. Jaskólski, the Polish people rolled up their sleeves and began the rebuilding of a new church building. With the help of a construction company, the Polish people were able to build a new church in a remarkably short period of time. By Christmas 1908, mass could be held in the lower church. After the rebuilding of St. Stanislaus church into the structure that is used today, the parish community truly began to unfold under the leadership of its third pastor Fr. Cyprian Adamski OFM Conv. Fr. Adamski, like Fr. Jaskólski was a young and energetic pastor. In the first four years of his service to St. Stanislaus parish, Fr. Adamski installed a new high altar along with two side altars, built two belfry’s and installed two bells into them, received donations from the parishioners to install more stained glass windows, and painted the upper church. The works of Fr. Adamski did not just stay in Chelsea. It extended to the north shore area, including Peabody. The Polish people in Peabody like the early Poles in Chelsea yearned for their own Polish parish. In 1929, Cardinal O’Connell chose the Polish Franciscan Fathers and Fr. Adamski to administer to the needs of the Polish people in Peabody. In 1932, a new church was built for the Polish people of Peabody. St. Joseph’s Church was yet another testament to the works of Fr. Cyprian Adamski. In 1997, St. Joseph’s Parish was suppressed and closed. Fr. Adamski’s memory still lives on. A part of the Expressway running through Chelsea is named the ‘Fr. Cyprian Adamski Memorial Highway’. Two great World Wars ravaged the twentieth century. St. Stanislaus Parish offered its share of young men and women to serve their country. The names of those who perished in these wars are enshrined in the vestibule of the church. After a few renovations to the church, St. Stanislaus Parish continues to be a place of gathering for Polonia. The current pastor Rev. Andrew Grelak continues to lead the parish. Rev. Grelak has helped the parish maintain its traditional Polish customs and traditions throughout the church year. Throughout its one hundred year history, fourteen young men of the parish have offered themselves to the priesthood. Joining Archbishop O’Malley, Rev. Grelak and the invited clergy, were other who helped in the celebration. Jan Ponikewski and Paweł Markiewicz were altar servers, helping during the mass. During the mass, Jane Kwiatkowski read in English and Jerzy Markiewicz read in Polish. The parish choir also helped to beautify the celebration by singing splendid and traditional songs such as ‘Czarna Madonna’ and ‘Boże Coœ Polskę’. In his homily, Archbishop O’Malley recalled visiting St. Stanislaus Parish for confirmations some years ago. Archbishop O’Malley also honored Rev. Grelak for all of his hard and good work as pastor and the parishioners on the occasion of the church’s one hundredth anniversary. Prior to the end of the mass, parish children thanked Archbishop O’Malley for helping to celebrate mass. The archbishop was presented with flowers and gifts for his services. A jubilee banquet followed the mass at Anthony’s of Malden. On the twenty seventh anniversary of the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła to the papacy, St. Stanislaus Parish of Chelsea celebrated its one hundredth anniversary. The parish, as with any other has been through its share of ups and downs. We wish Rev. Grelak and the parishioners of St. Stanislaus sincere congratulations and the best of luck and continued success.


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