West Side Detroit Polish American Historical Society Holds
The West Side Detroit Polish
American Historical Society held its Christmas event entitled 'Annual
Opłatek' on Friday, December 28, at its headquarters in historic St. Hedwig
The event included a tour of the church and Heritage Room
led by society President and church archivist Adam Lis.
St. Hedwig's was the third Polish parish established on
Detroit's west side. Bishop Foley appointed Father John Mueller pastor on
July 3, 1902.
Later on, St. Hedwig's Parish was dissolved in 1905 until
a new group of priests more loyal to Detroit bishops - Polish Franciscans -
were recruited to staff and manage St. Hedwig's Parish.
Father Eustace Bartoszewicz was appointed pastor in 1912
and, five years later, the magnificent church was completed.
Later the parish established a large elementary school and
then a high school that survived for 49 years until the out migration of
Poles and other from this neighborhood led to its closing. The elementary
school closed five years later.
Surprisingly, this neighborhood became a destination point
for newly arriving immigrants from Mexico. The priests of the parish,
rather than offering Mass in Polish as they did a century ago, now serve the
needs of their Spanish-speaking parishioners.
The feature event of the Friday’s program was a
presentation of polish kolędy led by west side music director/organist Steve
Frayer. He sung some of the most popular Polish Christmas carols, including
“Dzisiaj w Betlejem,” “Lulajże Jezuniu,” “Gdy się Chrystus rodzi” and the
oldest Polish kolęda (written in 1554) “Anioł pasterzom mówił”.
After the program refreshments were served. Many
participants expressed their interest in joining the society.
The West Side Detroit Polish American Historical Society
was incorporated as a non-profit organization in February 2006. It exists
for the observation, study, appreciation, and preservation of the history of
west side Detroit Polonia's neighborhoods and the Polish-American immigrants
who settled and continued to build the community throughout the decades.
This includes their descendants and their neighbors, surrounding
institutions, businesses, and churches. The society also serves as a
repository of historical archives, including artifacts, documents, oral
histories, and other significant records relevant to its mission and
A very special thank you to Sebastian Szczepanski for
allowing us to reprint the above article from The Polish Times.