BY DAVID CRUMM
Detroit Free Press
May 4, 2007
Sunday, more than 1,000 Catholics from across metro Detroit areIt's a wonderful day for Detroit Polonia when we can celebrate the life of an inner city Polish parish!
expected to gather at St. Hyacinth Church in Detroit's historic
Poletown neighborhood for the parish's centennial.
Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida will celebrate the 11 a.m. mass for
which many past parish leaders are expected to return. Former
teachers at the parish school, which closed in 1991, will be honored
in a procession that morning, led by the hand bell once used to call
students to class.
"I've been a priest for more than 30 years, since I was ordained in
Warsaw and then came to this country and became a citizen, and in
all those years as a priest, I haven't seen a parish with this much
feeling of unity among the people," the Rev. Janusz Iwan, whom Maida
appointed pastor last year, said Thursday.
Many of the 350 parishioners drive to the church from suburban homes
now, but Darlene Zabrzenski, 61, is among those who still live
within walking distance.
"This parish is the heart of my whole life," she said. "My mother
and father both went to school here and their parents before them.
Our buildings are carefully cared for, and this place still is the
heart of this neighborhood."
North of Detroit's Eastern Market, the Poletown neighborhood once
was packed with homes filled with Polish immigrant families. When
the congregation dedicated its current Byzantine-Romanesque building
in the 1920s, flyers described St. Hyacinth as "the ninth Polish
house of worship in the city of Detroit."
Since then, many of those parishes have closed, and some artifacts
from those churches are on display at St. Hyacinth, said Virginia
Skrzyniarz, director of the Piast Institute in Hamtramck and chair
of the centennial planning committee. Her institute is a nationally
known nonprofit center that studies and promotes Polish-American
"After all these years, St. Hyacinth remains a center of living,
current Polish-Catholic culture," she said. "It's a place people can
go to find all of the Polish-Catholic traditions still practiced."
On Sunday, the mass and homily will be mostly in English, she
said. "But there will be traditional Polish songs sung by the St.
Hyacinth men's choir."
The church is at 3151 Farnsworth, near Mt. Elliott.