History of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa
The icon of the Madonna and Child was said to have been painted on wood by St. Luke after witnessing the Assumption of Mary. The icon, also known as the Black Madonna, remained in the Holy Land until the year 326 when it was discovered by St. Helen, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and brought to Constantinople. It remained there until 1382, when it was given in gratitude for defending the Holy Roman Empire to the Prince of Poland by the Emperor.
The icon was entrusted to the safe keeping of the Pauline Monks at the Monastery of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, Poland where it remains today. Its current location has brought the icon to also be known as Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish was established on May 1, 1901. Father Peter Lotocha was named Pastor and the first Mass was celebrated on May 3, 1903.
The first church building was formerly a Presbyterian Church located on the site of the Grotto. This building was used as the church until the opening of the new school building on October 13, 1920. With the completion of the school, the former church building was used as the parish hall and the school basement (now our parish hall) was used for the church for 8 years. The current church building was opened on December 9, 1928. The former church building was raffled off in 1927 to help raise funds for the construction. Since its construction, the church has had many enhancements.
Some of these include:
- In 1947, stained glass, designed by Joseph Mazur, was added to the nave of the church.
- The mural of The Coronation of the Blessed Mother was added in the early 1950’s in time for the 50th anniversary of the parish in 1953.
- In 1966 the Grotto garden was added and dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa.
- A new altar, a replica of the original one on the back altar, was dedicated in 1982.
- The Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa was added in 1983.
Other Parish Milestones
- First school/convent opened September 1, 1903-the Sisters of Saint Joseph staffed the school until 1906
- Felician Sisters began teaching in the fall of 1906
- First rectory was built in 1913
- School building (site of the current church) razed by fire March 9, 1920
- Present school built and opened October 13, 1920
- Approximately 1940-3rd floor of school renovated into a convent for the Felician Sisters who taught in the school
- A new convent (now our Ministry Center) was completed December 12. 1953
- Second rectory built approximately 1960
- In 2008 OLC parish merged with St. Joseph Parish
Next to our church the Grotto serves as a meditation and prayer garden. In 1992, a shrine to St. Francis was added. The fourteen stations of the cross, which encircle the shrine, were erected in 1996. Each station is enclosed in a wooden structure reminiscent of country wayside shrines.
Our Lady of Czestochowa Pastors
Pastor Rev. Peter Letocha May 1903 – July 1911
Pastor Rev. Stanley C. Bubacz July 1911 – August 1920
Pastor Rev. Bernard A. Bendkowski September 1920 – October 1931
Pastor Rev. Michael R. Walek October 1931 – March 1952
Pastor Rev. Vincent P. Dudek March 1952 – May 1957
Pastor Rev. Vincent Cyman May 1957 – May 1966
Pastor Rev. Chester Kotkiewicz May 1967 – November 1978
Pastor Rev. Edward Sobierajski February 1979 – January 1986
Pastor Rev. Louis S. Dolinic February 1986 – May 1995
Pastor Rev. Dennis Fronckowiak August 1995 – June 2008
Pastor Rev. Louis S. Dolinic June 2008 – October 2010
Pastor Rev. Gary J. Szczepankiewicz October 2010 – Present