A group of immigrant farmers from Poland were told their dream of building a church on the East End was impossible, but the seed of faith they planted 100 years ago bore fruit Saturday evening inside Our Lady of Poland Roman Catholic Church in Southampton as congregants gathered for the parish’s centennial Mass.
“Exactly 100 years ago, a small seed of faith was planted and look what happened,” said Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Andrzej Zglejejszewski of the Diocese of Rockville Centre during his homily addressing the congregation at the church’s jubilee Mass on June 30. He explained the difficultly the parishioners had not only adjusting to the United States, but also in dealing with the walls that were placed in front of them as new immigrants. “There were many obstacles. We are talking about 20 Polish families. Let me tell you, they were very poor.”
“There were so many walls and it was hard for them to do anything, and yet they did,” the bishop added.
Father Janusz Lipski, the parish’s administrator, said the group came to the U.S. in search of freedom and liberty but they did not forget to bring their faith with them.
“They brought to the United States, not their treasures, but they brought their faith, very strong faith,” he said.
The Mass, parts of which, readings and songs, were in Polish, featured an honor guard with the Knights of Columbus in full regalia. It ended with a procession outside to the garden where Bishop Zglejejszewski posed for photographs with parishioners. From there, the congregants walked over to Polish Hall for a jubilee dinner dance, which included traditional Polish fare like kielbasa, as well as dancing to Windstar, a Chinese auction, and raffle. Attendees were also treated to a performance of traditional Polish song and dance numbers which featured children from the parish and was led by Agnisezka Ogonowska.
The event drew dignitaries such as the Polish Consulate General Maciej Golubiewski, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, and Southampton Village Trustee Richard Yastrzemski, who presented the church’s leaders with proclamations marking the event.
Our Lady of Poland was almost lost in 2008, when it needed an extensive renovation, but once again, parishioners were able to come through and lend their support, which makes the centennial even more special for some in attendance.
Sisters Patti Fanning and Maggie Marcimcuk, whose grandparents, Stephen and Eva Kobos, were part of the original group of 20 Polish immigrants who founded the church, said it was special day for them. Their parents raised them and their four siblings in the parish, and it’s where all of them made their sacraments as children.
“This is our church,” said Fanning, who now lives up-island.
Marcimcuk noted her father used to paint the inside of the church as part of its regular maintenance.
“My kids were baptized here, made their sacraments here, and I was married here in the church. Our parents were married in the church, so it’s been generations,” she said.
It’s a family tradition that she hopes will continue for generations to come. “I hope that they will continue to come to this church,” she added.