"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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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