In the late 1800’s our Polish ancestors began settling in the Northeastern United States, primarily working in the steel mills and the coal mines of Pennsylvania. These early settlers began arriving in our area, settling in Nanticoke in 1870 where the Diocese of Scranton established the first Polish Parish, St. Stanislaus. In the ensuing years, our forefathers arrived in great numbers and settled in surrounding communities of Kingston, Edwardsville, Ashley, Georgetown, Hudson, Duck Pond and Parsons. It was rather difficult in those days to travel to Nanticoke, but these Polish immigrants who were a truly religious people with a particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary thought nothing of walking the entire ten miles to attend the celebration of the Mass.
In 1884, a small, but determined group of newly settled immigrants banded together in their desire to have the Diocese form a Polish speaking parish in this area. Records indicate that this plan was spearheaded by Mr. Gawlas and Mr. Bednarkiewicz. A meeting had been called at the home of Mr. Valentine Borys when it was unanimously decided to establish a new parish for the Polish speaking people.
Eighty families, newly arrived in the United States, of meager means and not having the necessary finances to acquire land or a building of their own for the purpose of worship in their native language and culture sought the support of Father Nagle, pastor of the German parish, who was sympathetic to the plight of these immigrants. Father Nagle permitted the founders of Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish to conduct Sunday services in the parish school belonging to his parish at the corner of South and Canal Streets. In fact, Father Nagle even pleaded with Bishop O’Hara, then the Bishop of the Diocese, to appoint a newly ordained priest, Father Teofil Klonowski, to be his assistant for the purpose of administering to the Polish speaking people.
The celebration of the first Mass of this parish was in the summer of 1885. Instead of just the original 80 families who had joined the new parish, so many other people attended, that it was truly unbelievable and heart warming. This enthusiasm prevailed and in a very, very short time, the parishioners had amassed a total of $1,500 in their treasury for the establishment of their own church. Our founding fathers soon purchased a plot of land on Park Avenue and Hancock Street and proceeded to build a small wooden church on the site.
In 1886, the Bishop appointed Father Pelczar as the first pastor of this parish and on March 25, 1886, the first Mass in the newly completed church was celebrated. The parish roles had risen from the original 80 families to 300 families.