History of St. Michael's Parish in Derby. Golden Jubilee St. Michael's Parish, Derby, CT. p CAP at Orchard Lake.

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1 History of St. Michael's Parish in Derby. Golden Jubilee St. Michael's Parish, Derby, CT. p CAP at Orchard Lake. THE FIRST POLES IN DERBY Desiring to present a clear picture of the national and religious life of the Poles in Derby, we first must take you on a short descriptive tour of their native country. In order to understand them it is necessary to have some knowledge of their background such as, where they were born, in what manner they lived and earned that living, their love of God and Country, and their customs, culture and education. The Poles in Derby and Shelton, except for a small number from other parts of Poland, emigrated from that section of Poland called Małopolska which was seized by Austria during the infamous dismemberment of Poland by Germany, Austria and Russia. Austria renamed the stolen province Galicia after the Town of Halicz (Halicja-Galicja-Galicia) in eastern part of Małopolska. Krakow, Tarnow, Rzeszów, Przemyśl and beautiful Lwow are the principal towns in this province, the oldest in Poland. A railroad line crossing it links Western Europe with the Black Sea. Kolbuszowa, encircled in garland like fashion by approximately 30 villages, is the cradle of the majority of the Polish people in Derby. It is distant 18 miles northerly of Rzeszów and westerly and easterly respectively of Krakow and Lwow, and is located near the southerly border of a vast plain which stretches to Poznan, Warsaw and Grodno. It is a small town, having a beautiful parish church which numbers among its parishioners not only the residents of Kolbuszowa but also the inhabitants of 12 nearby villages. A few parishes a short distance from Kolbuszowa, worthy of mention, are Cmolas, Trzesowka and Dzikowiec. A second, somewhat smaller group of Poles came to Derby from the Tarnow area mainly from the southerly semi-circular region of the Carpathian Mountains. This semicircular region can be described as having Krakow at one end and Rzeszów at the other. In the center of the semi-circle one finds the towns of Calvary, Tuchow, and New and Old Sacz. Calvary with its resplendent "Stations of the Cross" is known throughout Poland. The people in and around Tuchow revere the miraculous painting of "Our Lady of Tuchow." Despite the Carpathian Mountains and their rocky foothills, this region, as is true of the province of Malopolska, is the most densely populated in Poland. Thatch-roofed wooden homes dot its landscape, and no matter how small the home the ever-present cradle was always in motion with 1

2 baby Albert or Mary. Behind a wall one or more cows could be heard moving about, chickens were continuously invading the kitchen in search of food, and geese reigned supreme in the courtyard nipping annoying children. The nipping were repaid by giant feather quilts under which a person could almost lose himself and where cold air from unheated rooms never entered. Most families had to subsist on the produce of five or ten acres of land. A person who owned 20 or 30 acres of land twiddled his mustache, scorned stories concerning America and going there. However, with many families misery and want were first cousins; the normal daily fare of these families was potatoes and cabbage or cabbage and potatoes. Clothing was scarce; scarcer still were shoes. Shoes were treated as if they were the most expensive jewelry. They were put on only when going to church and taken off immediately after leaving church. Stockings, invariably with holes in them, served as banks. There were a few sizeable farms and even large estates where the poor labored from dawn to dusk. Children were forced to leave school to toil at the side of their parents at work requiring greater strength than theirs. If the children did not work, many times there would be no black bread for the family table. Each spring healthy and courageous Polish youth departed on an annual trek to work the farms in Prussia (today's parallel is the "wetback situation" in southwestern United States). Tired but happy they returned to their families after harvest to live out the coming winter on their earnings until the next spring. These annual trips to Prussia left their mark. The returning farm workers continually spoke and dreamed of wondrous lands beyond the seas. Everyone knew of Kosciuszko's and Pulaski's heroic deeds in America or Hamerika as it was oft called, but now they learned of large factories and were told the comical, even ludicrous stories of dollars growing on trees and streets paved with gold in America. One started, i. e. went to America, and hundreds, yes, thousands followed. They left Kolbuszowa, Tarnow, Calvary and the rest. A short time before 1850 a large group of Poles from Silesia settled in Texas, organizing there the first Polish parish in the United States. The exodus from the district of Poland seized by Russia began after the bloody insurrection of Hunger and persecution were the leaders! The inhabitants of Kolbuszowa and Tarnow began emigrating about the same time. This migration from Poland to the United States, and which could be compared to bees swarming out of an overflowing hive, did not slacken until 1914 when the First World War and the hope of a free Poland halted it. When the first reports of America from the new immigrants reached Poland, young men, then in turn young ladies and even newlywed husbands bade farewell to their young wives and families, promising a quick return with a bag of dollars. Some returned with a bag of dollars, but the majority sent for their loved ones to join them in America. During this migratory period of the Poles the two most important things were a ship's ticket and passage money. Passports were secured easily those fleeing conscription, persecution or prison did not stop for passports, for it was common knowledge that if one reached Hamburg 2

3 or Bremen one could get to America for double the price without papers as passports were then called. How many Poles passed through the ports of Hamburg and Bremen to be dumped unceremoniously on American shores only the good Lord knows. Some landed with only a prayer book, a rosary and a picture of "Our Lady of Częstochowa." Others, who could not read or write, stepped on U. S. shores only with memories of their homeland, and religious and folk songs which they had committed to memory. Rigorous were these beginnings which were conquered by the strong faith the migrant Poles brought with them. Everyone who undertook the voyage to America vowed a speedy return to Poland. Instead these poor and self-exiled people remained in the United States, forming a powerful and respected segment of American society. During World War I they raised an army which fought for and helped free Poland. After WW II they helped feed their defeated and hungry brothers, and who today in a mighty voice ask for justice and deliverance of once again enslaved Poland. The Polish people of Ansonia, Conn., cannot be left out of the history of St. Michael's Parish, since doing so would impair the truth. The Ansonia Pole migrated from the area east, west and north of Warsaw. The Derby Pole is the rugged countryman of a short time ago who dressed and spoke plainly, and who while staring at his rocky highlands thought of ways to be victorious over obstinate nature. Ansonia's Polish settler is of different timber. Generally, he owned a large piece of land and had time to dream, philosophize and create poetry. He was proud of his or his grandfather's station in life; and. his speech was polite, glib and flowery. It seems the Derby Pole was predestined a Democrat while his Ansonia counterpart was a born Republican. However, both were united by old Polish Catholicism, an ardent love of Poland, and an intense hatred of the evil enslavers of their beloved Poland. In spite of their many differences, no doubt the cause of environment, the Derby-Shelton and Ansonia Poles on foreign soil worked and played together, organized and built together, and praised God together. Today and for many years to come Polish-Americans may take pride in the achievements of their predecessors. II. In relatively young America the city of Derby, Connecticut, has a lengthy and old history. Its former inhabitants, the Indians, settled on the banks of the beautiful Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers. In the region of today's Shelton the Paugassett tribe made its home. The Pootakus tribe settled near Seymour, calling their settlement Nawcatock or Great Tree. The Indians have disappeared from these regions long ago, leaving behind them only the names of their tribes or settlements such as Naugatuck, Squantuck, Skokorat and others. The last leader of the Indians in and around Derby, according to old documents in Hartford, was Ansantawae who died around After his death Indians wandered around in the Derby area until the Revolutionary War. 3

4 Energetic and enterprising white traders, who bought pelts from the Indians, came to Derby about the year 1642 but did not settle here until They purchased the naive Indians' lands, forests and hills at ridiculously low prices. Not having any comprehension of their holdings, the Indians sold the same forests three or four times to different purchasers. As a consequence many misunderstandings, quarrels and law suits arose. The Indian lost everything slowly. He hated the pale faces, causing them injury whenever and however possible. The first white colonists of Derby were from Derbyshire, England. After 20 years the General Court (colonial government) authorized the colonists the use of the town name of Derby for their colony. At that time Derby or Darby as it was then written was comprised of the land area of the present cities of Derby and Ansonia, the town of Seymour and the larger part of the towns of Oxford and Beacon Falls. Today, Derby, which at one time had an area of 35 thousand acres, has 3292 acres and is one of the smallest cities in Connecticut. Derby's early citizens soon perceived and took advantage of the strategic location of their new settlement on the banks of the Housatonic and Naugatuck rivers. Derby became an important port from which ships sailed to all the major ports of the world. Besides being a port of world renown, Derby was a shipbuilding center whose shipyards sent 52 ships down the ways. In the course of 100 years Derby became so well known that it was universally called New Boston. III. As previously mentioned the Polish people from Malopolska settled in the Derby-Shelton area and the Polish people from the provinces annexed by Russia came to Ansonia. Who arrived first is every reader's question and the historian's problem. It seems, writes Father Stanislaus Konieczny, that the year 1875 should be acknowledged as the earliest date of arrival in Derby of Polish pioneers. Some came to Derby from Pennsylvania, others arrived directly from Poland. Among the first to come to Derby were Francis and Wanda Stochmal, Peter and Agnes Baut, John Smolen, Gabriel and Catherine Dziadik, Albert Wajdowicz, Eva Fraszka, Anthony Buszkiewicz, Francis Bush, Joseph Skowronski, Walter Skowronski, Peter Polakowski, Jacob and Maria Baut, and Mary Kosciolek. In addition to the above names, an examination of the books of St. Mary's Parish, Derby, reveals two earlier names. In the marriage book the names Jan Hojdich and Margaret Gurney (Gorny) appear under date 1881, and although the latter name may not sound Polish it should be regarded as the first Slavonic name appearing there. The names George Burch (Borcz) and wife Christine are noted in 1884 when their baby daughter was christened. If the parish books of St. Mary's are used as a criterion, it would seem that 1880 should be considered as the date of the arrival by 1885 such immigration was well under way of Polish immigrants in Derby; and, surely Except for a few families, bachelors were the first to migrate. Later they brought over their next of kin and relatives. Although practically everyone came from neighboring towns and villages in Malopolska two factions sprang up. One faction was composed of people from Kolbuszowa and vicinity, the other numbered people from the Tarnow area as its members. Each faction 4

5 had a derogatory name for the other. The people in the faction from Kolbuszowa were called "Maziarze" or grease makers, i. e. grease for carriages, which lubricant was manufactured in those parts; and the people from Tarnow were called "Miotlarze" or makers of birch brooms which were manufactured in that sector. For the most part each faction lived in peace with the other, however, at times, when enough wine and beer had been consumed, fist fights broke out. Though most of the immigrants were farmers, an overwhelming majority of them set tled in cities and towns. Two reasons generally given for this turnabout are: (1) lack of funds to purchase a farm; and, (2) jobs in factories were easily secured. Another reason which favored town and city life as it concerned them was their preconceived notion of staying in America a couple of years and quickly returning to Poland with the "dollar." For many years the East Derby railroad station swarmed with newcomers looking for food, shelter and jobs. The first order of business was getting a roof over one's head with a cousin, a godmother or to board somewhere. Almost everyone with a bundle on his or her back walked over the East Derby Bridge to the "Polish Centrum." In later years before WW I the new arrivals were shunted to the pavement at Derby's new railroad station where it is presently located. The "Polish Centrum" was that section of Derby bounded by Main, Caroline and Factory Streets and known as "The Block." The first home in this country for approximately 70% of Derby's Polish immigrants was in "The Block." When the immigrants first saw "The Block" with its few ramshackle wooden houses, tears welled in their eyes for they had dreamed of an America built of stone and of palaces of gilded brick construction. That first home, referred to above, was generally a small inadequate room with one piece of furniture a bed. Numerous times the bed was a bed of boards or just boards upon which people slept after laboring 12 hours. Boarding houses were famous at that time; today's boarding houses are first rate hotels in comparison. Every house and hovel was a boarding house, and every available room, attic, corner or space, even hallways, had its tenants who slept in shifts. When the first shift was working, the second slept and vice-versa. It was not rare to find a room occupied by single men and the adjoining room rented by girls. The landlady washed their laundry, fed this hungry horde, collected the board or rent and oftentimes used a broom to good advantage when the love of her boarders for each other manifested itself too openly. At the turn of the century strikes were unknown even though work was plentiful, the working hours long and the wages low. The normal wage for twelve hours hard labor was 75 cents with the largest wage being $1.25 for the same period. A week's work totaled 72 grim hours. Everyone looked forward to Sunday. a day to rest up, dress up and go to church to praise God. Since Polish nature tends to liveliness, the Sunday air was filled with the - und of joyous voices and song, the scraping if fiddles, the wailing of flutes and clarinets, and the stomping of feet; however, something was lacking. More... and more... and still more often our predecessors spoke out for a Polish priest, a Polish church and a Polish parish, to fill their need. 5

6 Although having their own priest, church and parish was something remote for them at the time, the Polish people could organize at once while looking to the future. Fortunately for the Poles in Derby and vicinity, several persons of stout heart and mind were in their midst. The late Francis Stochmal, a man of great faith, extraordinary intelligence and energy, became the leader. He had the respect and confidence of his people. His mind was full of thoughts and far-reaching plans, and he seemed to sense the desires of his compatriots. Francis Stochmal won over several prominent companions and on Jan. 1, 1896, they organized the oldest Polish organization in Derby under the name "Society of St. Michael the Archangel." Its first members were: Francis Stochmal, John Smolen, George Wajdowicz, Peter Baut, Francis Danowski, Joseph Skowronski, Francis Bush and Joseph Wasikowski who is still alive today. The society grew in meaning and number for very often someone new arrived from Poland and joined their ranks. Many meetings were held and, generally, the subject of discussion was the members' native language and faith which the members could not imagine surviving without a Polish priest and church. In Derby as well as in Ansonia everyone felt the founding of a Polish parish somewhere in the Derby-Ansonia area was inevitable. The goal was set, but due to the distinctive characters of Derby and Ansonia Poles, internal and external difficulties arose. Many heated debates as to the proposed location of the future church were held. According to the Derbyites, it was to be located near the hospital on Seymour Avenue; Ansonians argued the site should be in the vicinity of the present location of St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Ansonia. The two groups were forced to work together for neither group was in a position to organize a separate parish. At about this time a brilliant idea was conceived by Francis Stochmal. He said, in substance, why not create a new organization open to all Polish people from the towns of Derby, Shelton, Ansonia, Seymour and Orange, and whose one and exclusive object would be the organization of a Polish parish. On Feb. 7, 1903, a new organization was established and given the name, "Parish Society of St. Michael the Archangel in Derby, Connecticut." Fifty-four persons of both sexes signed up the same day. The membership numbered 74 by the end of the year. The following officers were elected: President, Francis Stochmal; Vice-President, Stephen Stehlik; Secretary, George Wajdowicz; and Treasurer, Lawrence Brzuszek. Dues (25 cents monthly) and all gifts and offerings were put into the church building fund. Appointed collectors who solicited offerings each month for the fund were: Derby: Stanislaus Kamionka and John Iwaniec; Shelton : Francis Rumanski and John Gut. In the following year no changes were made in the officers except to add the following: Assistant Secretary, John Brzuszek; and, Guardians of the Treasury, Francis Stochmal and Peter Baut. In 1905 the following changes in officers were made: Vice-President, George Jachyra; Assistant Secretary, Joseph Grzyb; and, Guardians of the Treasury, Michael Ignatowski and Stanislaus Karkut. 6

7 In addition to those collectors named above, the following also acted as collectors of the church building fund: Derby: John Brzuszek, Anthony Spiewak, Michael Klesyk, Anthony Markut, Thomas Ozimek, Victor Wajdowicz and Michael Biesiadecki, Shelton, Joseph Grzyb, John Kosinski, Joseph Polubinski and Thomas Olender. The names of the collectors are listed because they not only collected offerings each month, but also noted the names of the donors which were conscientiously recorded by Secretary George Wajdowicz. Thus was the first census of prospective parishioners, 16 years of age or over, of the future parish of St. Michael's accomplished in the years The list of names kept by Sec. George Waj dowicz shows there were 201 donors from Derby and East Derby, 34 from Shelton, 16 from Seymour, 7 from Orange, and 62 from Ansonia. There are 50 names of donors on the list whose addresses were not recorded. Regarding Ansonia, the listing of donors cannot be considered complete, for Ansonia's Poles cooperated fully when the establishment of a Polish parish in Derby became a certainty. At the beginning of 1903 the movement for a Polish parish embraced approximately 900 persons, children included. According to the story, the first call by the collectors was made on the family of Joseph and Sophie Wasikowski. Apparently, the collectors knelt before them, received the blessings of the Wasikowskis for success in their task, and with joyous tears coursing on unashamed faces the first offering was thrown into the hat. In the first month $ was collected in Derby, and $ in Shelton. In two and one-half years the monthly collections swelled the Parish Society treasury to the amount of $1, It is proper to mention at this point the following persons and their contributions: George Wajdowicz, $100.00; Francis Stochmal, $29.00; Francis Brach, $23.00; Joseph Wasikowski, $21.25 ; Stephen Stehlik, $20.00 ; and Gabriel Dziadik, $ The above and hundreds of others donated further large sums and funded the purchase of many things, when St. Michael's Church was in the process of construction. In order to show strangers that donations for the proposed church would continue and to end the dangerous discussions regarding the church construction site, the Parish Society on the 8th day of August, 1903, purchased from George F. Bushnell for $8, a parcel of land with three homes standing on it on Derby Avenue in East Derby. Today St. Michael's School and the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth are situated on this parcel of land. The purchase price was made up of a cash payment of $1, and a demand note for $7, That note is set out in full below and it is an interesting fact that the makers of the note were four individuals and not the Parish Society. "City of Derby, Derby, August 8, 1903 Corporation Counsel $ On demand after date, we jointly and severally promise to pay to the order of George F. Bushnell the sum of seventy-four Hundred Dollars with interest semi-annually at the rate of five per cent per annum and all taxes value received. Frank Stochmal Stefan Stehlik Peter Baut George Wajdowicz" 7

8 For many years St. Mary's Church was attended by Derby's Polish population. It s then Pastor, Rev. Charles J. McElroy, arranged for Polish priests to visit his parish and take care of the spiritual needs of his Polish parishioners. Father McElroy was asked many times to intercede with the Bishop, but he usually refused since he felt that the necessary money for the construction of a new church could not be raised by the Polish people. The answer to his refusals was the purchase of the parcel if land from Mr. George F. Bushnell. From the moment of purchase of that first parcel of land the work proceeded at a faster pace. Difficulties and objections which arose were answered by deeds. In September of 1903 three Parish Society delegates traveled to Hartford for an audience with Bishop Michael Tierney. They did not succeed; it was told them that there were no available Polish priests and that if they found one, they would get their parish. In 1904 a Polish priest, the Rev. Walter Stec, came to Derby from Poland. It is not known whether his coming was pure coincidence, or whether the Polish leaders in Derby were the moving cause of his arrival. Shortly thereafter Father Stec with two delegates went to Hartford to plead with the Bishop for a Polish parish. The answer was in the negative. The Parish Society did not consider itself defeated. A few days after the second refusal, Father W. Stec and one delegate journeyed to Washington, D. C. to place the matter before the Apostolic Delegate. The answer was the same. The Apostolic Delegate's refusal stirred up a hornet's nest and voices were heard favoring a schism. Although Fa ther W. Stec was deeply hurt, he did not listen to these angry voices. A few days passed. The Parish Society prepared a petition, in all likelihood with the help of Father W. Stec, containing a long list of names, appealing desperately to the Apostolic Delegate for a Polish parish. A special emissary presented the petition, but the answer was still on the negative. After a month or two, probably in June 1904, Father Walter Stec bade farewell to Derby with bitter tears in his eyes and returned to Poland where he died two or three year s age. The denial of a parish and their own church dealt a terrible blow to Derby's Polish people and the Parish Society. As a result the membership of the latter dropped to 41. At the annual meeting of the Parish Society on Feb. 13, 1905, President Francis Stochmal uttered a few unforgettable words, which rekindled hope and instilled new spirit into the membership. He said, "The holy obligation of every righteous Pole is to eagerly support the Parish Society so that we may attain our end in the shortest possible time." President Stochmal's words gave impetus to the work of the Parish Society, and what is more important, almost 15 persons from Ansonia joined the society. On July 3, 1905, the Parish Society formed a special parish committee for Ansonia with the following officers : President, John Krzyzewski; Vice-President, John Kaczmarczyk; Secretary, Stanislaus Osiecki; and Treasurer, Alexander Zamierowski. On the 13th day of March, 1905, the Parish Society adopted a resolution to send delegates once again to the Bishop and renew the plea for a Polish priest and parish. The delegates, Francis Stochmal and Michael Ignatowski, did not see the Bishop, but returned with the joyous news 8

9 that the Parish Society would soon receive a letter from the Bishop granting the long sought permission to establish a Polish parish. Rev. Charles J. McElroy, Pastor of St. Mary's Church, Derby, gave his support in this instance. On Dec. 28, 1903, Missionary Priests of the Congregation of St. Vincent de Paul came to New Haven at the invitation of Bishop Michael Tierney of the Hartford Diocese. The Missionary Fathers were greeted at the New Haven railroad station by Bishop Tierney and Rev. C. McElroy of St. Mary's Parish, Derby. Immediately and without any ceremony Father C. McElroy took Rev. Paul Waszko, C.M., with him to Derby so that the latter could listen to the confessions of the numerous Polish parishioners of St. Mary's Church. From that time on Missionary Fathers of the Congregation of St. Vincent visited St. Mary's Church, and, finally, Rev. George Glogowski, C.M., agreed to have his Missionaries at St. Mary's Church each Saturday and Sunday thereafter. Fathers George Glogowski, Paul Waszko, Francis Trawniczek, and Maximilian Soltysek made the weekly trips to Derby. In view of the above it is no wonder that the new parish was given over to the Vincentian Fathers. At this point it would be well to take another look at the books of St. Mary's Parish for a few interesting statistics. In the marriage book the names of Francis Stochmal and wife appear in After that, year by year, more and more marriages between Polish couples were solemnized in St. Mary's Church. In the year 1903, 28 Polish couples were united in marriage in St. Mary's Church, which fig ure is more than one-third of all the marriages entered into that year in that church. To the time of organization of St. Michael's Parish, 156 marriages were performed in St. Mary's Church between principals of Polish extraction. Christenings begin with the name of Walter Baut, son of Peter and Agnes Baut. After him and to the year 1905, Polish parents had over 320 of their children christened in St. Mary's Church. As we have previously mentioned, Polish priests were asked to visit St. Mary's Church to take care of the spiritual needs of the ever-growing Polish group. The first of the visiting- Polish priests was Father Joseph Formanek, who solemnized a few marriages in 1892 and In 1900 and 1901 the names of two Redemptorist Fathers, Rev. Thomas Grochowski and Rev. Francis Jasinski, appear in St. Mary's parish books. Father Maximilian Soltysek of the Missionary Congregation of St. Vincent married a number of couples in St. Mary's Church and assisted at the next to the last Polish marriage celebrated there, that of John Tereskiewicz and Victoria Kabala. Joseph Dutkiewicz and Julia Preneta were the last Polish couple married just after the turn of the century in St. Mary's Church. At last the Bishop's fateful letter arrived. It commissioned the Missionary Fathers of St. Vincent to organize a Polish parish in Derby. The work of the Parish Society was nigh over. The Parish Society in Nov. 1905, turned over to Father Stanislaus Konieczny all of its books and the remaining money in its treasury. A general financial summary of the Society's doings during its existence shows $3, in income from all sources, $2, expended for the Bushnell parcel, an expenditure of $ for interest, and the remainder of $ was spent for repairs of buildings on the Bushnell parcel and lesser items. 9

10 President Francis Stochmal and his tireless - co-workers merit every praise for their efforts which were crowned with brilliant success. They could then and some of them now living- can take pride in their accomplishment. Mr. Stochmal, the leader, was born in Tuchow, Poland. He married Wanda Wajdowicz on July 20, 1890, in St. Mary's Church. He died Sept. 11, 1910, at the age of 49 years and was buried in Mt. St. Peter's Cemetery. Eternal Rest and Glory to him and many, many others. The new parish was named St. Michael's Church of Derby; it was almost named St. Vincent de Paul Church of Derby. Father George Glogowski intended to give it the latter name, however, he agreed to the former in view of the work of the Parish Society of St. Michael the Archangel. Father George Glogowski officially announced the glad tidings in the lower church of St. Mary's 0n July 16, During the sermon he said "On today's date a Polish parish begins in Derby. Derby, Shelton, Ansonia, Seymour and generally everyone speaking the Polish language and living in this area belongs to it. Inhabitants of Orange may belong to this parish or the New Haven parish. The Most Reverend Bishop commissioned me to organize this parish, and as soon as I conclude the more important business here. I will send you a priest who will be your Pastor. I ask for harmony; there should be no factions, but everyone should go hand in hand with me and this work will bear fruit. The committee, which occupied itself to this date with parish matters, is to report to me at 2:30 P. M. at the parish office, and, if its books are in order, it may give an accounting at that time. I will be available after High Mass until two o clock to take care of parish matters. Marriages will be solemnized only on weekdays and with a Mass never on Sundays. Christenings will take place at 2 o'clock; arrangements for christenings must be made before Mass. Next Sunday there will be a special collection for church accessories, that is, for chasubles, a chalice, ciborium, monstrance, missal, etc. I request that everyone prepare himself according to his means. I personally will take up the collection. For the present, the person, the person taking the entrance offering at the door will continue in that capacity. Within two or three Sundays I will name a Polish collector. Today with the committee I will inspect parish property and the hall where the societies meet. I will endeavor to find living quarters her as soon as possible so that I can discharge parish matters suitably. Parishioners' books will be printed and parish dues collectors chosen. I will personally collect donations for the construction of the church, which collection will take place at a date to be announced. Father Stanislaus Konieczny was appointed pastor by the Superiors of the Missionary Congregation of St. Vincent. Since he was occupied with missions, Father George Glogowski took over his duties. At the outset Father Glogowski was faced with two pressing problems. He had to secure a place where services could be held and rent living quarters for himself. The latter problem disappeared quickly when he leased a room in the home of the late John Dziadik on Main St. During this time, one of the buildings on the parcel purchased by the Parish Society was being repaired for use as the future rectory. 10

11 For practical reasons it was thought best to hold services in the lower church of St. Mary's. This thought was abandoned when the administration of St. Mary's required one-half of each Sunday's income (Sunday's collections) for the use of its lower church. It was decided to lease a hall at a lower rent. Max A. Durrschmidt owned a hall on lower Main St., Derby, which was adequate under the circumstances. Having hopes of being awarded the future church building contract, he agreed to lease out the hall for $ yearly rental. The hall was cleaned up and pews without kneelers were set up. A small altar was erected and a small area to its left was draped off for use as a sacristy. A harmonium was placed in the hall rear. On Aug. 20, 1905, the Durrschmidt hall was used for the first time by the new parish for its services. As trustees Father G. Głogowski named Stanislaus Karkut and Anthony Śpiewak, who also served as collectors of entrance offerings and offerings respectively. Father G. Głogowski then applied in the name of the Bishop to the state authorities for a certificate of organization. The application was made on Oct. 8, 1905, and a "Certificate of Organization" was received Oct. 18, The certificate states the name of the new Polish parish to be "St. Michael's Church of Derby" and the parish committee is denoted as follows: Rev. Michael Tierney, Bishop of Hartford; Very Rev. John Synott, Vicar General; Rev. George Głogowski, Pastor; Antoni Śpiewak, Stanislaus Karkut, Laymen. Afterwards Father Głogowski turned his attention to financial matters. He prescribed an entrance offering of 10 cents. Parish dues in the sum of $6.00 annually were collected monthly for many years; unmarried persons of both sexes were required to pay the same as a family unit. The new parishioners were extraordinarily generous. On July 16, 1905, after the official announcement was made of the creation of the parish, the church collection came to $ Father Maximilian Soltysek was directed by Father G. Glogowski to call at parishioners homes for donations to the church building fund. He collected the following amounts for that purpose: Ansonia, $333.25; Derby and East Derby, $1,212.50; Shelton, $155.00; and Orange, $ Father Stanislaus Konieczny entered upon his pastoral duties in Derby on Nov. 5, He moved into the renovated home on church property bordering the westerly side of Bank Street on Nov. 11, Two days later Rev. Paul Waszko, C.M., came to Derby as his assistant. The pastor, his assistant and the parishioners racked their brains with the problem of the actual location of the proposed church and future buildings. Bishop Tierney had ordered that the church be built on or near the plot purchased by the Parish Society, which plot, although centrally located and near a main highway and railroad station, was too small. A parcel of land suitable for building a church on it and adjoining parish property on the north, was owned by Newton J. Peck, of Woodbridge. The stables on this parcel were destroyed by fire in the spring of It was imperative for the parish to purchase this parcel of land regardless of cost; however, Newton J. Peck refused to sell at any price and threatened to build a house on it to be leased for profit. He was told the Polish people would construct a church alongside his 11

12 house and every hour the church bells would be rung with such force that no tenant would pay rent very long. Very reluctantly he agreed to sell but only upon the condition that the purchase price of $3, be paid immediately upon sale. His terms were accepted; the deed to the property was executed and delivered on April 9, The term of St. Michael's first Pastor, Rev. Stanislaus Konieczny, C.M., was of short dur ation. He was recalled on April 29, St. Michael's parishioners did not wish to see him leave; they had become attached to him and even planned to send a delegation to the Bishop on the matter. In the end they quieted down and placed themselves into the hands of their new Pastor, Rev. Paul Waszko, C.M. Rev. Paul Waszko, C.M., was born in Twardawa, Silesia, Poland, in Holy Orders were conferred upon him in Cracow in He came to America in A devout and zealous priest, energetic and practical, an indefatigable builder, strict disciplinarian, a non-obtrusive collector of funds greatly needed by his new parish, he became a real father to his flock. On May 14, 1906, Father Waszko and Max A. Durrschmidt signed the church buildings contract. The contract price was $21, Joseph A. Jackson, a well-known architect, prepared the church plans at a cost of $ For a time after the departure of the first pastor and at various other times, Father Waszko worked alone in Derby. Realizing the work was too much for one priest, the Superiors of the Congregation of St. Vincent sent him assistants. Rev. Waszko's assistants during his tenure as pastor of St. Michael's Church were Rev. Hugo Dylla (July Dec. 1906), Rev. Joseph Janowski (Sept April 1909), Rev. Eugene Kolodziej (April 1909-Dec. 1911), and Rev. Joseph Studzinski ) who later became pastor of St. Michael's Church. Construction of the church went rapidly ahead. The cornerstone ceremonies at which Bishop Michael Tierney officiated were held on Sunday, Sept. 23, Bishop Tierney was assisted by Rev. Stanislaus Lozowski, Pastor from Hartford; Rev. Stanislaus Musiel, Pastor from Middletown; Rev. George Glogowski, Pastor from New Haven; and Rev. R. F. Fitzgerald, Pastor of St. Mary's Church, Derby. In conjunction with the cornerstone ceremonies, organizations and parishioners, led by a band, paraded from Main St. to Derby Ave. The line of march included the following or ganizations in their respective divisions: First Division; Knights of St. Michael, Knights of King John III Sobieski, and Knights of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Ansonia; Second Division: Slovak Sokols, Derby; Third Division: Greek-Catholic Society of St. Peter and St. Paul and Women's Society of St. George, Group No. 30. After the blessing of the cornerstone and walls of the lower church, Father George Glogowski preached stirringly in the Polish language. Bishop Michael Tierney then thanked the parishioners for their numerous and colorful participation in the ceremonies, encouraged cooperation and urged further sacrifices. The Bishop concluded his remarks with the wish that the parishioners would be able to celebrate the coming Christmas in their own church. Rev. Paul Waszko, C.M., 12

13 spoke last. He thanked the societies and parishioners for arranging and taking part in the colorful pa-rade and their generous donations and sacrifices. Before the cornerstone was sealed, a metal box was placed in it for posterity. The box contained a parchment listing the names Pope Pius X, Bishop Michael Tierney, Rev. Paul Waszko, C.M., President Theodore Roosevelt, Mayor Benjamin Hubbell, Derby, Trustees Peter Baut and Stanislaus Karkut and the names of presidents of the different societies; also a list of names of parishioners who donated to the church building fund; a chronicle of parish events up to that time; and, coins in denominations from 1 cent to a silver dollar. Holy Mass was celebrated for the first time in St. Michael's Church in the completed lower section on Dec. 22, 1906, thus making the Bishop's wish made at the cornerstone ceremonies come true. An interesting incident happened a short time before the celebration of that first Mass. It seems there was a fire in the Durrschmidt Hall in the wee hours of one night. Tragedy was averted when the Host was saved by the ever awake tipplers. From that night, apparently, harassment of the members of this uncertain group by Father Paul Waszko diminished somewhat. Although the coming of winter halted church construction, there was much to be done. Money had to be raised for altars, windows and a great amount of other equipment. On July 4, 1907, the Very Rev. John Synott, in the absence of the Bishop, blessed the completed church in solemn ceremonies. Before the blessing, military and civilian organizations from Derby, Ansonia, New Haven and Bridgeport, led by three bands, paraded thru Derby and Shelton. Over 2,000 persons par ticipated. A solemn high Mass was celebrated by Rev. Zimmerman assisted by Rev. Stanislaus Sobieniowski of Bridesburgh, Pa., as deacon, and Gervase Kubec of East New York, as sub-deacon. In the sanctuary the following clergy participated: Rev. Stanislaus Konieczny, C.M., Rev. Quinn of Ansonia, and Rev. R. F. Fitzgerald of Derby. After Mass the new pulpit was used by Rev. Anthony Mazurkiewicz, C.M. who preached a beautiful sermon. For the first time the new bells chimed, the organ played and beautiful religious hymns sung by St. Stanislaus Choir of New Haven filled the church. After the services the organizations marched to old Durrschmidt Hall where they were feted. The celebrations were soon over and work prevailed. Bills had to be paid, and although donations were large and many and were still being solicited, the young parish was forced to borrow money. On Nov. 12, 1906, when the church was still in the process of construction, Father Waszko borrowed $18, at 41/2 Per cent interest from the Derby Savings Bank. He borrowed $3, at 31/2 per cent from a few of the wealthier parisioners on Nov. 17, Shortly thereafter Father Waszko borrowed again this time the sum of $1, from the Vincentian Fathers in Derby. The families who aided the parish in these its most difficult times were the George Brozek family, Joseph Zygmunt family of Ansonia, George Kieras family of Seymour and the Chester Arendarski family of Derby. 13

14 All of the above loans were paid off by St. Michael's efficient Pastor, Rev. P. Waszko, by December He first paid the mortgage loan on the parcel purchased by the Parish Society which amounted to $6, in principal and S in interest. Thereafter he paid off the loans made by parishioners and others in that order. The entire amount of interest paid on money borrowed for church construction was $3, Some might ask what were the actual costs of church construction! Excluding religious equipment, altars, statues, etc., the cost of building the church was as follows: Max A. Durrschmidt, builder, $21,775.00; removal of ledge, $1, and later $534.00; and, plumbing and electrical work, $1, Externally St. Michael's Church is plain and without costly adornment, yet it is beautiful in its simplicity. For 35 years a main wooden staircase detracted from its appearance. Its ceiling is supported by wooden columns which divide it into three naves. In the front of the church the main and two side altars are located; two lesser altars were added in later years at the side walls of the church. Father Paul Waszko did not care for splendor, but at the same time he disliked the bare walls of his church which were white rough cast in He asked donations to paint the church interior and as usual his parishioners responded generously. G. Ruggiero of Waterbury, with whom the Pastor became acquainted, undertook to paint the church for $1, He painted pictures directly upon the walls without the benefit of canvas and they turned out very well, even beautiful. This painting was the last major work undertaken in the church building by Father Waszko; next came the rectory and school, each in its turn. RECTORY A rented room in the Dziadik home on Main Street, Derby, served as the first rectory of St. Michael's Parish. This arrangement was temporary since the organizer of the parish, Father George Głogowski, chose for his rectory the house located at the southerly corner of the parcel of land purchased by the Parish Society. After the house was renovated, Father Stanislaus Konieczny, the first pastor, moved in on the 11th clay of November, When Father Paul Waszko became pastor, the rectory was moved to the largest house on the parcel. Father Waszko explained this change on May 4, 1907, when he said "I have a right to demand from you that a Polish priest should not be ashamed to invite other priests to visit him." The two smallest houses on the parcel were razed and the house on the southerly corner, being in good condition, was sold and moved in June It still stands today at 188 Mt. Pleasant Street and the present owner is Mr. Frank Bilka. Everyone anticipated the rectory would be moved again when a school was constructed. Having paid a few debts, Father Waszko purchased two parcels of land northerly from the church and adjoining church property. The first parcel with a house on it facing Bank Street, he purchased from Joseph and Laura Brascho on May 3, 1911, for $3,150.00; the second parcel with a large house facing Derby Ave., was deeded to the parish on May 15, 1912, by Mary F. Canfield Nar- 14

15 ramere for $4, A new rectory was planned by Father Waszko. J. A. Jackson drew the plans and Gor man was awarded the building contract. Construction began in In January 1913 the parish borrowed $7, from the Derby Savings Bank to finish construction of the rectory. The cost of building the new rectory, excluding the cost of labor of plumbers, etc., was $9, Father Waszko moved into the new rectory in It is a three story building, still in use today, of timber construction faced with red bricks. Its front is set off by a two story enclosed veranda which at one time was open. The rectory is spacious, comfortable and presentable, but without any ornamentation as are all the buildings erected during Father Waszko's pastorate at St. Michael's. SCHOOL AND CONVENT A parish without a school may be compared to a motherless family. It follows that a parish should have a school and logic commands building the school alongside or near the parish church. The simple solution for a parish is to conduct religious classes on Sundays and dispense with building a school; that is the step motherly way. The parish resolved the matter in motherly fashion by building a school and staffing it with its own teachers. St. Michael's Parish may take pride in the fact that it always had its own school except for the first two years of its existence, for which record it is indebted to the energetic and prudent Father Paul Waszko. As soon as religious services were moved in 1907 from the church basement to the church proper, the former was converted into a four classroom school, which immediately opened its doors to students. One group of children transferred to the basement school from St. Mary's School, the other from public schools. Rev. Joseph Janowski was appointed principal and catechist of the new St. Michael's School. In the first year of the school L. Rosiek and Jasiorkowski taught Polish, and W. Ogonowska, who married John Woźniakowski, local organist, taught it in the second year. The English language was taught for two years by Mrs. Mary Walsh. With the assistance of the above lay teachers the basement school was carried on for the years and It was known beforehand that this system was temporary, for not only was it difficult to secure lay teachers but also the system was prohibitively expensive. For these reasons Father Paul Waszko attempted to get an Order of Nuns for the school, which course of action the Bishop approved. Success in the matter was not easily attained. Sisters for Polish schools were in demand from all sides. After many failures Father Waszko achieved victory; the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth from Chicago, IL, were permitted to come to Derby to take charge of the school. From Sept to the present date, the Sisters of Nazareth have managed St. Michael's School in a superlative manner. 15

16 After the church basement school was opened, its enrollment climbed at a very rapid pace. In the school year 148 children attended in three classes. In 1911 there were four classes with 197 children, and the following year's enrollment was 228 children. The influx of immigrant families with children and the large number of children, born of Polish parents in Derby, explains the rapidly increasing student attendance rate at that time. 16

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