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Polish parish celebrates 50th anniversary

By Edward Karpinski

10/07/2015

SASKATOON — Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in Saskatoon recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

As survivors of the Second World War were coming to Canada, the Polish people among them felt a need and desire for a Polish church where language issues would not hold them back in their religious and cultural life. When Polish-speaking priests came to sporadically minister to the people, the desire began to seem achievable. On the inspiration of Rev. Józef Smyczek, the Polish Catholic Association of Saskatoon was formed, with Z. Indyk as the first president.

Within weeks $20,000 was raised and permission obtained to build a church. The building committee members were K. Baraniecki, B. Danko, J. and S. Pronkiewicz, P. Sapieha, J. S_awinski, M. Tuczynski and K. _ród_owski.

The association purchased a lot. A basement was constructed and the wooden church, purchased from the Canadian Air Force, was moved onto the site. Bishop Francis Klein consecrated the church on July 22, 1965, dedicating it to Our Lady of Czestochowa. Rev. Stan Urbanowski was the first pastor.

This achievement by the 60 families was possible due to the determination, generosity and personal physical work of people who felt a deep need to maintain their faith and to enhance its expression. In the culture of their religion were many feast days, days of observance, a rhythm of devotions that bound them to their faith and nourished it. They followed the rhythm of the church calendar: the Christmas home visits by the pastor, children on a caroling route, the communal Op_atek gathering and meal, The Candle Mass of the Virgin, the blessing of Easter food, the parish patron saint’s celebration and festivities.

Over the years there flourished around the parish a social and cultural life. The Parish Polish Language School was established in 1966. The Women’s Sorority was formed in 1968 with Maria Boryska as president. The women raised money through sales, catering meals, bingos, and pay-as-you-eat potlucks. They prayed together as The Living Rosary. They visited the sick and the lonely. The Youth Group presented nativity plays, offered Mother’s Day breakfasts, and took part in religious and cultural events.

In 1984, to celebrate the visit to Canada by Pope John Paul II, a statue of the pontiff by Bill Epp was placed in front of the church building at 301 Avenue Y South in Saskatoon.

During Jubilee celebrations July 26, Bishop Donald Bolen celebrated mass with the community. The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus provided an honour guard. The choir led in singing a version of the Black Madonna hymn composed by Bo_ena Paw_owska- Kilanowski. The bishop presented documents of papal blessing to three parish founders: Stefania Pronkiewicz, Kazimierz Baraniecki and Antonina Danko.

During the banquet that followed in the church hall, which was filled to capacity with some 160 in attendance, Polish Catholic Association president R. Klimkiewicz also presented plaques to honour the three surviving founders, who accepted not only for themselves but for all who had built the church and community alongside them.

Parishioner Dr. W. Olszynski, Honorary Consul for Saskatchewan of the Republic of Poland, gave a commemorative address.

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