Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Polish Catholic Churches of Detroit, St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr

St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church, Detroit

Address: 5818 Dubois, Detroit, MI 48211
Phone: 921-0815
Current Parish Status: Closed. The building still stands and is now the Promise Land Missionary Baptist Church.
School in Operation: No. The school building still stands and is now the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Year Parish Founded: 1898
Year Present Church was Built: 1911
First Pastor: Rev. Fr. Francis Gzella
Pastor in 1985: Rev. Fr. Joseph Grzyb
Mass Schedule at time of closing: Saturday 4:00pm (English); Sunday 8:30am (English), 10:00am (Polish), 11:30pm (English)
No. of Families in Parish at closing: 260
Percentage of Polish Descent at closing: 95%
Considered as a Polish Ethnic Parish: Yes
Polish Religious Traditions Preserved: "To some degree they were"
Location: East side

Historically, St. Stanislaus parish was connected with a great deal of effort on the part of the Polish population to retain contacts with the Fatherland. For example, the parish hosted President Ignacy Paderewski and General Haller as they both engaged in working for a free and independent Poland during World War I.

In 1905 the parish was composed of 700 families. By 1910 the enrollment was doubled.

During the 1950s the parish began to experience decline. The I-94 expressway came through the neighborhood and divided it in half. Many parishioners and nearby businesses were forced to move.

This parish closed in 1989.

St. Stanislaus Grade School opened in 1901 and was closed in 1968.

St. Stanislaus High School opened in 1929 and closed in 1973.

St. Stanislaus is now an African American church. It's school buildings have been renovated and are operating as an Edison Charter School.

St. Stanislaus is a State of Michigan Historic Site.

The Souvenir album of the 25th anniversary of the founding of St. Stanislaus B.M. Parish, 1828-1923 has been cataloged and is searchable on the PGSA web site.

The following microfilms of St. Stanislaus church records are available at the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library: Film No.1037
Reel 1: Baptisms July 1898-July 1914
Reel 2: Baptisms July 1914-May 1921
Baptisms July 1914-May 1921
Reel 3: Baptisms April 1921-July 1934
Reel 4: Marriages November 1898-November 1931
Reel 5: Death September 1898- September 1932

St. Stanislaus Parish was not organized because of a fission or power struggle within the Polish Community. Rather, it was the direct result of a natural increase in the Detroit Polonia. The residents of the area were regarding the long walks to church and the overcrowded schools as an inconvenience; so it was the pastor of St. Josaphat parish who agreed to lead a committee for the formation of the parish.

On July 8, 1898, the committee - with approval from Bishop Foley, purchased the Beth-El Lutheran Church and adjacent parochial buildings situated on the corner of Medbury and Dubois for $16,000. At the time of the transaction it was estimated that 600 families, mostly from the overcrowded St. Albertus, would form the nucleus of he parish.

The petitions of the committee for a new pastor were answered by the Bishop on July 12, 1898 when he assigned Rev. Francis Gzella. Father announced that the solemn dedication of the renovated church would take place on Sunday, July 31, 1898. According to one of the newspapers, the ceremony with its pomp and fanfare attracted 20,000 spectators. A full 8,000 people, who were members of the societies of other Polish parishes, participated in the parade that preceded the dedication.

In 1905 the parish was composed of some 700 families. By 1910 the enrollment was doubled. This called for the building of a new church and when the time came for the laying of the cornerstone on Dec. 10, 1911, the Dziennik Polski reported 15,000 people on hand for the event.

A second pastor came to the parish in 1926. He was Rev. Joseph Lempka who remodeled the elementary school and constructed a high school at  a cost of $225,000. At the time of the Parish Golden Jubilee, the school system was reported to be the second largest Polish system in the country. Two succeeding pastors were Rev. Anthanasius Polanowski,  who succeeded in having the interior of the church painted and Rev. Monsignor Michael Grupa. Rev. Grupa came to the parish during a very difficult economic time, yet he managed to modernize parish buildings and elevate the spirituality of his parishioners.

The fifth pastor of "Stanislawowo" was Rev. Monisgnor Vincent Borkowicz. He pulled the parish through the latter years of World War II, during which the congregation was so moved that it paid off the church debt of $305,000. On June 1, 1948 the parish celebrated its Golden Jubilee and on Sept. 30, 1952 Father Borkowicz was raised to the dignity of Monsignor.

During the 1950's the parish began to experience decline. The I-94 expressway came through the neighborhood and divided it in half. Many families were forced to move and many businesses that had served as an economic base were forced to relocate. Young and wealthier couples decided not to stay in the neighborhood and in 1968, St. Stanislaus School was forced to close its doors. Monsignor Borkowicz remained at the parish until his retirement in 1971. He strove to convince the people of their needed loyalty of the parish and although the elementary school was not functioning, Rev. Borkowicz worked to keep the High School open.

Priests that followed Rev. Borkowicz were Rev. Stanley Redwick,  Rev. Vincent Oberc, Rev. Charles Szczesny and Rev. Jospah Grzyb. Space does not allow for historical facts regarding their years as pastors but additional information can be obtained from the 80th Anniversary booklet of the parish - written by Mr. Lawrence Chominski.

Some information from, "The Polish Roman Catholic Churches of Metropolitan Detroit" by PERC. c. 1985. Used with permission from Michael Krolewski, editor.


St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church on Wikipedia.