Monday, February 02, 2009

St. Mary's: Past and Future

The final report is out on parish closings and consolidations in the Diocese of Scranton. Erin Moody, who wrote the newspaper article on The Stained Glass Project several months ago, also wrote a comprehensive article on the closings and consolidations for the Wilkes-Barre Citizens' Voice. The official announcement from the Diocese of Scranton can be found here.

Here is the information that pertains specifically to Nanticoke, and to my church, St. Mary's:

CLUSTER # 8 – the parishes of Holy Trinity, Nanticoke; St. Stanislaus, Nanticoke; St. Mary of Czestochowa, Nanticoke; St. Francis, Nanticoke; St. Joseph (Slovak), Nanticoke; Holy Child, Sheatown:

Holy Trinity, Nanticoke; St. Stanislaus, Nanticoke; St. Mary Czestochowa, Nanticoke; St. Francis, Nanticoke; St. Joseph (Slovak), Nanticoke; and Holy Child, Sheatown will consolidate no later than July 2010 at the Holy Trinity site. There will be an additional worship site (Masses as needed per weekend with occasional funerals and weddings) at St. Mary of Czestochowa which will be evaluated no later than two years after the consolidation, based on geography, attendance, fiscal realities and the availability of priests. St. Francis Church building will close no later than July 2009. The Church buildings of St. Stanislaus, St. Joseph, and Holy Child will close no later than July 2010.

In doing research for yesterday's entry in The Stained Glass Project, I came across an entry in The Congressional Record from Wednesday, October 17, 2001 in which Representative Paul Kanjorski of Nanticoke read into the record a statement recognizing the 100th anniversary of the founding of the parish of St. Mary of Czestochowa, which would be celebrated on October 21 of that year. The statement presents a brief history of the parish. A similar statement appeared in a souvenir book put together for the occasion of the anniversary, but the PDF of this copy of the Congressional Record appeared to be the only location where the information could be found online. In order to remedy this situation, I am reproducing this information here.


Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Mr. KANJORSKI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call the attention of the House of Representatives to the 100th anniversary of the founding of St. Mary of Czestochowa Roman Catholic Church of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, which will be celebrated on October 21.

At the turn of the last century, an increase in the Polish Catholic population led to the need for a third church in the Nanticoke area. The original St. Mary’s church was a simple wooden structure located at the corner of Hanover and Grove streets. It was home to a congregation of approximately 500 parishoners, although an estimated 2,000 people worshipped there.

Nearly five years to the day of its dedication, the first church was destroyed by fire. Under the leadership of the first resident pastor, Rev. Adolph E. Nowicki, a new church was built at the corner of Hanover and Field streets and was blessed and dedicated soon thereafter.

St. Mary’s present pastor, Rev. John S. Krafchak, is the eighth pastor to serve the parish, having served since 1983. He also served as assistant pastor at St. Mary’s from 1960 to 1966. During his 18 years as pastor, Father Krafchak has continued to support the efforts of the church’s organizations, the spiritual needs of the congregation and the material upkeep of the parish.

Father Krafchak’s first major undertaking was the construction of a new rectory, which was completed in 1985. A Holy Hour of Prayers for Priests was begun in 1986 and has been held once a month since its inception. It was also around that time that air conditioning was installed in the church. With the 1988 consolidation of all the parish schools in the Nanticoke area into Pope John Paul II School, St. Mary’s school became the home of Head Start, a federal pre-school program offered to Nanticoke-area children ages 3 and 4 from low-income families. St. Mary’s has also teamed with St. Stanislaus Church to promote the Renew 2000 program, a parish renewal endeavor to foster spiritual growth among their parishoners. The parishes have also held consolidated Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes since 1996.

In preparation for this year’s 100th anniversary, the interior of the church was painted and refurbished with carpeting and most significantly, an imported replica of the famous Our Lady of Czestochowa image, measuring more than 7 feet in height, was placed on the wall above the main altar. The church organ was also reconditioned to return it to most of its original musical capabilities.

One of the portions of St. Mary’s history of which the parishoners can be most proud is that the parish has been the mother of 39 vocations, 18 to the priesthood, 20 to the sisterhood and one to the deaconate. The parish also acknowledges the dedication of another parishoner, Henry Gonshor, who aspired to the priesthood but was called to his eternal rest before finishing his preparatory studies.

Over the past 100 years, St. Mary’s has seen the formation of the following organizations, most of which are still flourishing today: St. Cecilia’s Choir, Blessed Virgin Mary Sodality, the Holy Name Society, the Sacred Heart Society, Third Order of St. Francis, Purgatorial Society, the Catholic Council of Women and the Usher’s Club. These organizations have helped unite many parishoners throughout the years toward a common cause of service to God and the Church.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to call to the attention of the House of Representatives the 100 years of dedication, faith and good works of the people of St. Mary’s Church, and I wish them all the best.

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