A group of 27 Polish immigrants — mostly farmers who carried traditions from their homeland to the fertile fields of the East End — established Our Lady of Poland Roman Catholic Church in Southampton in 1918. Now, 100 years later, their grandchildren are preparing a series of events over the next six months to mark the centennial of its founding.
The parish’s first centennial event — a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Andrzej Zglejszewski — will be held on June 30. The Mass, which will be in English and Polish, will begin at 5 PM, and will be followed by a Jubilee Dinner Dance at 6:15 PM in Southampton Polish Hall, 230 Elm Street, Southampton.
There will also be no shortage of Polish favorites such as kielbasa, golabki, pierogi, and cheese blintzes. The event will feature an open bar, music by Windstar, Chinese auction, and table gift.
Polish immigrants first started moving to the East End, settling in Riverhead, Bridgehampton, and Water Mill in 1886. It wasn’t long before the growing community wanted a house of worship of its own, so members got to work raising money for the effort. Ground was broken on October 21, 1918, and the final work was completed on the church on December 24, just in time for Christmas Day Mass, which was offered by the parish’s first priest, Father Alexander Cizmowski.
The church, which is located on Maple Street, has thrived over the years, continuing to serve the Polish community on the East End, as well as friends and summer visitors.
“There is a very large Polish community from Riverhead to Montauk,” said parishioner Thea Dombrowki-Fry.
The church has maintained many of its traditions, including Polish Masses. The parish still has a Polish priest, maintains a Polish-American Society, and has a Polish library in its basement. The church’s parishioners attend Sunday socials, and celebrate special events such as birthdays and anniversaries as a community, and always come together to help other parishioners in need, said Dombrowski-Fry, who is also a member of the Polish-American Society and the Polish Veterans’ Ladies Auxiliary.
“We are pretty busy,” she added.
The second centennial event of the church’s jubilee year, a tour of the church, will be held on July 1, though a time has not been set for the event. Three days later, on July 4, parishioners will also take part in the Southampton Village Fourth of July Parade, along with a group of Polish singers and dancers. The group will also take part in the Pulaski Day Parade in New York on October 3. Parishioners and church leaders are also in the process of arranging a Polish veterans memorial at the Sacred Hearts Cemetery. The year’s events will culminate in a 100th Anniversary Mass on Christmas Day, December 25.
But for now, Dombrowski-Fry said she is looking forward to the upcoming Mass on June 30.
“It’s going to be absolutely beautiful. There are a lot of dignitaries who are invited to the Mass. We are hoping that 100 years from now, our great-grandchildren will celebrate 200 years. That’s the whole idea,” she said.
For more information about Our Lady of Poland’s centennial events, visit www.olpchurch.org. Tickets for the jubilee dinner dance are $100 and may be ordered from Erika by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 631-283-0667.