Friday, September 24, 2010

The History of the Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Part I

The History of the Parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a history of two epochs. The first epoch begins at the moment the Most Reverend Bishop Jan Foley, who was at that time the Ordinary of the Diocese of Detroit, appoints the organizer of our parish. This happened in July 1911, when a large number of Catholics of Polish descent, not having an appropriate ecclesiastical service in their own language in their neighborhood, were constrained to undertake a difficult road, in good weather and bad, to the nearest church. Not having proper transportation, the fulfillment of religious tradition for these first settlers of the Assumption was indeed a burden and a complete effort of dedication.

The year 1911 was the time when the city of Detroit began to expand, as they say, “like mushrooms after a rain”. Because of an abundance of work, thousands of people, in hopes of better work conditions and a betterment of their material existence, arrived in Detroit in order to settle here. Among the newcomers was a significant number of our countrymen, from the mines of Pennsylvania, from the Eastern factories and the Western farms. There is a tradition among us Poles, that before a Pole settles somewhere, he first looks for a church and school where he can hear the Word of God in a language he can understand, and where his children can learn the language of their ancestors. Because of this our Polish district in Detroit was overcrowded with Poles from other states, and the Polish churches were not able to serve this new mass of people.

Seeing this lack of Polish churches and schools and the impossibilities of service, the Most Reverend Bishop Jan Foley established a new Polish parish. The neighboring parishes of Saint Casimir, the oldest Polish parish on the west side of the city of Detroit, as well as the parish of Saint Francis, were nearly three miles away from them. So, it's no wonder the Poles living in the middle of this district had quite a distance to go to the Church of St. Francis or to the church of St. Casimir. To make the services of God easier for these people, the Most Reverend Bishop Jan Foley appointed Father Konstanty Dziuk as the founder and first pastor of the new Polish parish, with orders to choose a suitable place in this district.

Father Konstanty Dziuk, as we say, "rolled up his sleeves" and got to work. He chose the corner of Lovett and Warren Streets. At that time, Lovett Street was simply a path of mud up to one's knees, barely passable from Warren to Herbert Streets, although it was already significantly populated. While going from home to home in order to show the proposal of the new parish, he found many sympathetic and favorably disposed people who immediately showed their desire for this collaboration. He surrounded himself then with hardworking people, who every minute were ready to help the new pastor in order to achieve the intended goal. His first official act was the election of a parish board, the composition of which included the following men: Franciszek Wondołkowski, Ludwik Czuchra, Bronisław Waszewski, Franciszek Płotka, Józef Oberman, Antoni Bolak and Franciszek Brzyski. Besides this parish board there were also other people sympathetic and helpful to the organizer priest in all possible ways, and who went about the uprising of Assumption Parish, and among them were Piotr Maciejewski, Augustyn Latosiewicz, Józef Lesinski, Augustyn Mallon and others.

Maksymilian Pujdowski, Ludwik Czuchra, Franciszek Płotka, Józef Oberman, Antoni Bolak. Some members of the first church committee.

From "Silver Jubilee Souvenir Booklet of the Church of the Assumption 1912-1937", Detroit, Michigan. Translation from Polish to English by Stephen Danko, 2007.

To Be Continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment