In the late 1800ís
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.
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 OíHara, 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.