Queens Polish Parish Marks 100 Years

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio concelebrates Holy Mass in honor of the parish 100th anniversary, accompanied by 17 priests. (Photo by Yaroslav Śmigielski via Nowy Dziennik)

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, accompanied by 17 priests, celebrates Mass in honor of the parish’s 100th anniversary. (Photo by Yaroslav Śmigielski via Nowy Dziennik)

Holy Cross Parish in Maspeth, which has long been an enclave of Polish immigrants in Queens, is celebrating a century of existence and continuos service this year. Before it was established and before the church was built, the future parishioners made 26 visits to their bishop to make the case for their spiritual home. 

The cornerstone under the church was officially laid on June 22, 1913 in the presence of 18 priests and numerous future parishioners. The cost of erecting all the parish buildings, including the cost of land, was then estimated at $75,000.

Though it is hard to imagine, the construction of the sizable church was completed in just five months. The church was dedicated on Nov. 30, 1913.

Rev. Wojciech Nawrocki, the first pastor of the church who worked for Holy Cross for a total of 27 years, played a major role in its growth and development.

In 1952, world-renowned and acclaimed Polish singer and actor Jan Kiepura gave a concert at the church. In September 1969, Holy Cross was visited by Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, who came to the United States to take part in the Eucharistic Congress.

In 1985, a group of new immigrants from Poland, lead by Andrzej Kurowski, decided to establish a Polish language school in the parish, with Robert Dabrowski as the school’s first principal.

In 1991, Rev. Ryszard Koper joined the parish and has since been very dedicated and actively involved in it. He writes articles and books, mostly devoted to religious topics and he is one of the organizers of an annual Polish Culture Festival in the parish.

Memorable pastors of the parish include Rev. Edward Fus, Rev. Adam Prochalski, Monsignor John Strynkowski and since 2000, Rev. Piotr Zendzian, who was the parish’s eighth pastor. He is also one of the delegates to the Polish Episcopate and serves as the chaplain of many Polish-American organizations, including Polish American Congress (PAC) – New York Downstate Division, PAC’s Education Commission and the Children’s Smile Foundation.

The preparation for the Holy Cross’ 100th anniversary began in 2012, with the massive overhaul of the Polish Saturday School, named after John Paul II. The overhaul was conducted in its entirety by parents of the school’s students.

On April 20, a festive centennial banquet at Terrace on The Park celebrated the anniversary, with some 250 guests in attendance, and emceed by Dorota Izak and Waldemar Rakowicz, the Polish school’s principal.

The next day, 17 priests, led by Brooklyn Diocese Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, celebrated an anniversary Holy Mass, which was followed by a performance by high school students from the Polish school.

(Editor’s note: On Sept. 26, 2017, the Daily News reported that a number of women alleged that they were sexually abused by one of the Holy Cross pastors.)

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