It was a big weekend for Greater Cleveland's Polish American Community. To celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the founding of St. Casimir's Parish, Fr. Eric Orzech, pastor of both St. Casimir and St. Stanislaus Churches invited a well respected clergyman to Cleveland, the Most Reverend Andrzej Wypych, the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago to be the Celebrant and Homilist at the Sunday, October 16th, 11:30 AM Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving.
The bishop stayed at St Stanislaus and also celebrated the Saturday Vigil Mass with a following reception in the St. Stanislaus Social Hall. Those attending were amazed at his humble and friendly demeanor.
The next day, Sunday, the focus turned to St. Casimir's 125th Anniversary.
St Casimir Church was closed along with other Catholic churches in the Diocese. But the church was dedicated to the Blessed Mother (Our Lady of Czestochowa) on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009 and She appeared in a dream that night to a parishioner and said to him, "Do Not Leave Me". The next week prayer vigils started in front of the closed church for 139 Sundays no matter the weather, the people of God assembled and were rewarded with the re-opening of their church and other churches followed their example. See more from the vigil at St Casimir Church.
As the people entered St. Casimir Church for the 125th anniversary celebration, they saw a church that was beautifully decorated with flowers, ribbons and of course the Polish Colors of Red and White. As the Mass began, the congregation watched a large procession consisting of veterans, children (of the Sienkiewicz Language School and Piast Dancers) and parents in the vibrant colors of Polish Regional Dress followed by the altar servers and the clergy while the choir sang an ancient Latin Hymn, "Te Deus Laudamus" (We Praise You, Lord) in the Polish Language.
The children prominently carried a significant banner for St. Casimir. The banner depicting the Divine Mercy of Jesus with the words, "I Trust in Jesus". When St. Casimir was closed, this banner was displayed during the 139 street prayer vigils.
Bishop Andrzej, the main celebrant delivered a very meaningful homily concerning the importance of the family and what they can contribute to the faith in their everyday lives. At a pause in the Mass, two representatives of the parish, Ela Zysko and John Niedzialek gave the greetings and thanks in Polish and English to the entire parish, to Bishop Andrzej and to Father Eric for the commitments to St. Casimir. And of course the old Polish custom of presenting bread and salt to Bishop Andrzej was done by the children in Polish Dress.
The Mass fittingly ended with the Recessional Hymns of "Boze cos Polske" and "Holy God, we praise Thy name".
Bishop Andrzej Wypych, Fr Eric Orzech, altar servers and children of the Sienkiewicz Polish Language School and Piast Dancers
After Mass, the Gala Anniversary Banquet took place in the newly renovated social hall with Bishop Andrzej gracefully thanking everyone for their hard work and faith. Before the bishop left for the airport he once again expressed his gratitude and reminded everyone to get involved in spreading the message of Jesus.
It was quite a weekend for Cleveland's Polonia, they deserve an applause for keeping the faith and their contributions to this great city.
by Joseph Feckanin
Enjoy these photos courtesy of Stanislav Zadnik
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Polish Veterans at entrance to Church
125th anniversary Mass at St Casimir Church
Pieta at St Casimir Church
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