Polish parish sets Mass - Catholic Courier

Polish parish sets Mass

St. Stanislaus will honor pope Oct. 16

Only the most momentous of events rate the question, “Where were you
when …” For Polish-Americans, Oct. 16, 1978, is one such date.

On that day, the news that Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtyla had been
elected to the papacy — becoming the first Polish pope in history, and
the first non-Italian pontiff in more than 450 years — prompted a
joyous ringing of the bells at Rochester’s St. Stanislaus Kostka
Church. That evening, a hastily arranged Mass was celebrated inside St.
Stanislaus before a standing-room-only crowd.

Kathy Urbanic recalled that earlier in the day, a co-worker had
broken the news about the soon-to-be Pope John Paul II. She didn’t
believe him at first because he was fond of telling Polish jokes, even
though she wasn’t particularly fond of hearing them. So she braced
herself for the punch line that never came.

“Then my mother called me, and then a co-worker who’s a (St.
Stanislaus) parishioner — all inside of one minute,” she said.

“I think everyone in the parish remembers the day he was elected.
Our emotions ran from disbelief to incredible pride,” added Urbanic, a
historian who in 1991 released the book Shoulder to Shoulder: Polish
Americans in Rochester, N.Y.

“It was unthinkable a Polish cardinal could be elected pope. My God,
it was jubilation all over,” said Eugene Golomb, president of the
Polonia Civic Centre, an alliance of several Polish-American groups in

Urbanic and Golomb, both parishioners at St. Stanislaus, are among
the organizers of a 25th-anniversary Mass to be celebrated at the
church Thursday, Oct. 16, at 6:30 p.m. Bishop Matthew H. Clark — who
in 1979 was one of the first bishops appointed by Pope John Paul II —
will be the presider. Jesuit Father John Podsiadlo, a native of St.
Stanislaus Parish who now serves in Baltimore, will give reflections on
the pope’s quarter-century as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The event also will involve neighboring parishes; diocesan priests
of Polish descent; and anyone else who wishes to attend the Mass and
ensuing reception in the parish auditorium. It’s being cosponsored by
St. Stanislaus Parish, the Polonia Civic Centre and the Polish Heritage
Society of Rochester.

St. Stanislaus, located at 1124 Hudson Ave., is the largest
Polish-American parish in the Rochester Diocese. However, Urbanic noted
that people the world over — Polish and non-Polish, Catholic and
non-Catholic — are planning tributes to John Paul II on Oct. 16.

“People are already calling him John Paul the Great, and his impact
on history will be more visible as time goes on,” Urbanic said, noting
the pope’s role in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe; his
outspokenness on human-rights issues; and his frequent globe-trotting
to promote the Catholic Church.

“He’s traveled all over the world … all in the hopes of bringing
more and more people to Christianity,” Golomb said. “People love him
wherever he goes.”

Even so, Urbanic said that the 83-year-old pope — who has returned
several times to Poland during his papacy — will remain most deeply
beloved by those who share his ancestry.

“He is so rooted to his homeland; his heart is so clearly there. For
our people whose hearts are there too, it’s an incredible bonding with
him,” Urbanic said.

Urbanic and Golomb also remarked that public perception of
Polish-Americans — which hasn’t always been flattering — has shot up
considerably since John Paul II assumed the papacy.

“That big vat of Polish jokes evaporated because he was such a great
presence,” Urbanic said.“It just seems that Polish people are finally
getting some positive recognition,” Golomb added.

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