Saint Stanislaus Parish, Erie, PA











The word "Polonia" is used to designate a "colony" of Polish immigrants, wherever they may settle. The word can be used to describe accurately the grouping of Polish people who began to settle together on the East Side of Erie in the early 1800's

These immigrants brought with themselves their strong Catholic Faith with its many traditions and devotions. These early immigrants were first served by the German Benedictine priests of St. Mary Parish which was founded in 1840.

By 1880, the number of immigrants continued to grow. By 1883, there were 85 Polish families, most of them living in the area of 12th and Wallace Streets. Bishop Tobias Mullen gave permission to Father Carl Lenz, OSB, of St. Mary Parish to assist the people in soliciting funds to build a Church to serve the Polish people. A wooden Church was completed in the Summer of 1885, marking the beginning of St. Stanislaus Parish, the first Polish Parish in the Diocese of Erie.

The first pastor of the parish was Rev. Andrew Ignasiak, a native of Poland, who arrived on August 22, 1886, only months after he was ordained a priest. He died on December 29, 1934.

During his many years as pastor of the parish, he served as a true "shepherd" of his people. As wave after wave of immigrants arrived, he tended to their spiritual needs as well as helped the people preserve their Polish heritage while assisting them to become productive American citizens.

As the influx of immigrants continued, it became necessary in 1903 that Holy Trinity Parish at 22nd and Reed Streets be established. Accordingly, in 1911, St. Hedwig Parish was founded at 3rd and Wallace Streets. In 1914, St. Casimir Parish was founded at 7th and Hess Avenue. Saint Stan's Parish, as it was affectionately known, remained the "mother parish" of the other Catholic Parishes of POLONIA in the city of Erie.

The Parish Hall and The Catholic Young Men's Association (the former "East-Side Boys Club Building") of St. Stan's Parish served as focal points for the many social and cultural gatherings of the Polish Americans.

Through the next several decades, the sons and daughters of the parish provided vital leadership in the civic, religious and social life on a local level as well as on a national and international level.

Following Monsignor Ignasiak, Monsignor Wladislaus Stanczak was the pastor from 1935 until 1962; Rev Joseph Radziszewski was the pastor from 1962 until 1989; and Monsignor Bernard Urbaniak has been the pastor since 1990.

Even though the immediate neighborhood surrounding the physical structures of the parish has changed over the years, a core of Polish people still live in the area around the Church, Rectory and Parish Hall. (Because of rising costs and dwindling enrollment, the Parish School was closed in June 2001, after a long and productive history.) Many Catholic people throughout the metropolitan Erie area still retain membership in the parish.

In the summer of 2000, the interior of the church was renovated. It was completely painted and the worship space was reconfigured. All artifacts of religious importance were retained. The antiquated heating system was updated and air conditioning was installed.

The Faith Community of St. Stan's, retaining its Polish roots and Catholic foundation, continues to respond to the needs of parish members as well as to the changing cultural and social needs of the people in the immediate neighborhood.




Saint Stanislaus Parish
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