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Stanislaus Kostka Church
Stanislaus Kostka Church
Stanislaus Kostka Church

St. Stanislaus Kostka
Church - Staten Island

Parish and its History

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 Reverend 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, on 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 Pakumiewicz, 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 our present parishioners have fond memories of the nuns' dedicated teaching during the ten years of the 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 n. Many young men of the parish left to serve in the Armed Forces. Eight of them lost their lives: Benedict Askins, Joseph Czarniak, Walter Galonski, Joseph Kostbar, Anthony Lonczynski, Joseph Markowski, Matthew Skowronski, and Eugene Wasielewski.

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 fund-raising 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 a declining congregation. Upon retiring at the 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 overjoyed 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 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 Guarnieri, 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 McCarthy, 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 McCarthy 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 continues 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 Wozny who came 2002 and Reverent Slawomir Ciszkowski who came 2005.

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 the 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 tot he Church's decorations for the holidays. Father Pawel's talents extended into the literary realm as he was responsible for the weekly bulletin. Father Jacek 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 Assemblywoman Elizabeth Connelly and her husband Robert have continued to frequent parish affairs. Likewise, local politicians such as former Councilman Jerome O'Donovan and Councilman Michel 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. We the parishioners are grateful to them for all that they have done.

2010- present