Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New Polish American Catholic Heritage Committee

It's no secret that older inner-city Catholic churches are closing around the country. In fact, it's happening with alarming regularity. As populations have moved from city-centers to suburbs over the years, many churches are faced with severly declined parishes and expensive to maintain church buildings. The Polish Catholic community has been especially effected by this trend.

A new group has organized and is trying to do something to help out. The Polish American Catholic Heritage Committee met for the first time on June 29, 2007 in Philadelphia, PA. Their intention is to try to do on a national scale that which local groups around the country have been doing for some time now. And that is to work towards the betterment and continuence of Catholic Polonia and its parishes.

With that in mind, the group has established a web site at PolAmCatholic.com . The web site is in the beginning stages but already has a nice start. It incluces a map of the Polonia communities around the country, a list of some current PolAm Catholic churches, and a start on a list of closed PolAm parishes. They've set up a blog (though they call it a newsletter) that has a few entries but hasn't been updated since mid July. There's also a nice start on photo and video galleries on the site.

The group is looking for anyone anywhere around the country who might like to get involved in this very worthy cause. If you think you might be interested, check out their web site or send an email to amcwisniewski@yahoo.com. The next meeting is planned for October or November.

The old Polish churches were religious, cultural, and social centers for our Polish immigrant ancestors. They were often the defining points of PolAm communities. As such they hold a great deal of history about our ancestors and in many instances baptismal, communion/confirmation, marriage, and death records of them also. As you may know, the preservation of these old churches and parish families is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart. If you are at all interested, I urge you to join a group (locally or nationally) and help be a guardian of what was the center of your Polish immigrant ancestor's world. Do it now, before it's too late.

2 comments:

  1. Jasia,

    With the Catholic church "downsizing" and merging, unfortunately the history of these organizations and their people is indeed being lost in some cases. A few months ago I spoke with the pastor of an originally French church in New Hampshire whose parish had just "absorbed" another slightly younger "Irish" parish that existed less than a half mile away. My mother had an old copy of that church's history and photographs, which the pastor was not aware existed and did not have. He was so happy to receive it as they were getting ready to rewrite the "new" combined history. Luckily the life documents (baptism, marriage, etc. was being held by the diocese and was still available to the public).

    Keep up the good work.

    Janice

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  2. Thanks for your comment Janice. You're absolutely right that this effects churches with all different ethnic backgrounds.

    I know that the Catholic church has seen many of its members lose the faith, so to speak, over the years. And I'm not one to stand on a a pulpit and prostelitize about getting people to return to their faith. It's the historical value of these old churches that I try to make people aware of. It doesn't matter what one's own religious background is or isn't. These old churches are fading away from genea-historians whose family members once attended. We need to keep that in mind.

    How very generous your mother was to share her information with the new combined parish. And how good of her to have saved it all these years. I just love hearing about these sorts of good deeds.

    It's always great to hear when something good comes of saving "stuff". It helps me justify my own pack-rat-ness ;-)

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