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Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church

By 1897, Niagara Falls had a burgeoning Polish community. The Catholics amongst them joined Assumption parish in Black Rock but would regularly attend Mass at St. Mary of the Cataract in Niagara Falls. As the community grew, Fr. Hyacinth Fudzinski of Corpus Christi Church in Buffalo began to minister to them. Seeing the development of Niagara Falls’s Polonia, Bishop Quigley sent Reverend Peter Pitass in October of 1901 to the city to determine if a Polish parish would survive. At a meeting on October 27 in the home of Jacob Pasek, Father Pitass met with the leaders of the community including Szczepan Ciesielski and Jacob Kaszyca, and urged them to organize so a parish would be possible. It was at this meeting that the Holy Trinity Society was formed with the mission of starting a church of their own.

PAC 59 - Holy Trinity Church, Niagara Falls NY Pic 1With approval of the bishop, Father Pitass oversaw the construction of a small temporary church on Jozefa Steca’s property on 12th Street in the early part of 1902. On the second Sunday of Lent the new building was formally dedicated. The little church would see many firsts for the parish. Joseph Klincer and Mary Kuasniak would be the first couple to be married while Joseph R. Godlewski was the first child baptized at Holy Trinity. Shortly after the small church was built a number of lots at the corner of 14th Street and Falls Street were purchased. Father Bartkowski, the successor to Father Pitass had the church from 12th Street moved to the new property and on November 3, 1902 Bishop Quigley dedicated Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, the Mother Church of Niagara Falls’s Polonia.

Over the next three years, the Polish population of Niagara Falls greatly expanded and Father Dyminski, Father Bartkowski’s replacement, soon found his small church to be inadequate. The reverend hired the firm of Schmill & Gould to design a stone church fitting for the growing and influential parish. Construction began on the church on October of 1905 with the laying of the cornerstone occurring on May 26, 1906. It would take a year for the edifice to be dedicated on May 26, 1907, but the parish did get to use it a little early, holding a special Christmas midnight Mass there in 1906. The total cost of the new Holy Trinity church was $40,000. Two years later, the new Holy Trinity School opened, expanding the parish complex to an entire city block. In 1910 Holy Trinity purchased land in Lewiston, NY and transformed it into a parish cemetery. Some of the earliest interments include Emilia Madej, Edward Latko, and Leokadyia Rydzewska.

PAC 59 - Holy Trinity Church, Niagara Falls NY Pic 2As Slavs continued to settle in Niagara Falls en mass, three churches would come out of Holy Trinity. The Lithuanian congregants of Holy Trinity established their own parish in 1914, St. George Roman Catholic Church, Poles who had moved to the eastern edge of the east side started St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church in 1917, and the Holy Trinity parishioners who were disgruntled with the way the Diocese of Buffalo ran things broke away and started St. Michael the Archangel Polish National Catholic Church in 1917.

Despite the loss of parishioners and territory, Holy Trinity remained the largest Polish parish in the Diocese of Buffalo, second only to St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr in Buffalo’s East Side. Throughout the years, many prominent priests would shepherd the flock of Holy Trinity including two of the most influential of Western New York’s Polonia, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dr. Alexander Pitass and Bishop Edward M. Grosz Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo and Titular Bishop of Morosbisdo. As Niagara Falls declined in population, the Diocese of Buffalo consolidated and closed a number of parishes as part of the Journey in Faith and Grace. On Easter Sunday 2008 the final Mass was held at Holy Trinity and the church was sold. Since its closure the complex has become home to Niagara Heritage of Hope and Service and the entire campus has been placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.


"7th Anniversary of Holy Trinity." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 5 Sept. 1908: 6. Print.
Album Pamiatkowe I Przewodnik Handlowy: Osady Polskiej W Miescie Buffalo, Z Dolaczeniem Okolicznych Miejscowosci Ze Stanu New York. Buffalo, 1906. Print.
Betzing, Clayton. "Holy Trinity." Niagara County, NY Cemeteries, Lewiston. N.p., 2002. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
"Bishop Burke To Lead Special Church Services." Bishop Burke To Lead Special Church Services [Niagara Falls, NY] 5 June 1952: 14. Print.
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Feder, H. William. The Evolution of an Ethnic Neighborhood That Became United in Diversity: The East Side, Niagara Falls, New York, 1880-1930. Amherst, NY: BMP, 2006. Print.
Fronczak, Francis Eustace, Aleksander Pitass, and Mieczysław Haiman. "Ci, Którzy Do Pomogli Do Wydania Księgi Jubileuszowej - Wladyslaw H. Zawadzki." Księga Pamiątkowa Złotego Jubileuszu Osady Polskiej I Parafji Św. Stanisława, B. I M. W Buffalo, New York, 1873-1923. [Buffalo, N.Y.]: Nakładem Komitetu Wydawniczego, 1923. Print.
Gramigna, Glenn. "Holy Trinity Church: First to Serve the Cataract City Poles." Am-Pol Eagle [Cheektowaga, NY] 12 Oct. 1995: 15. Print.
"Holy Trinity Centennial." Am-Pol Eagle [Cheektowaga, NY] 23 May 2002: 2. Print.
Karney, Alfred. "Holy Trinity in Niagara Falls Sold." The Am-Pol Eagle. The Am-Pol Eagle Newspaper, n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
"Keller Chairman Of Holy Trinity Jubilee Group." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 25 Nov. 1950: 10. Print.
Klug, Dick. "Holy Trinity Catholic Church Was Established Here in 1901." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 24 Feb. 1962: 2. Print.
Kobielski, Milton J. Millennium of Christianity of the Polish People, 966-1966: Buffalo Diocesan Observance. [Buffalo]: Millennium Committee of the Diocese of Buffalo, 1966. Print.
Mikula, Sue. "Earliest Church Services At Falls in Catholic Faith." Niagara Falls Gazette[Niagara Falls, NY] 8 Oct. 1967: F-19. Print.
"More Than 400 Expected at Dinner Winding Up Church Jubilee Events." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 14 June 1952: 17. Print.
Niagara Heritage of Hope and Service. Welcome to Niagara Heritage of Hope and Service, Inc. Niagara Falls, NY: n.p., n.d. Print.
One Hundredth Anniversary Of Holy Trinity R. C. Church Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls, New York: n.p., 2002. Print.
"PGSNYS" Polish Parishes of WNY - Detail. Holy Trinity, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.
"Polish Leader Called by Death." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 30 Aug. 1937: 24. Print.
"Polish People Erecting Handsome House of God." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 24 Nov. 1905: 1. Print.
"Preserving the Faith in Niagara Falls." Am-Pol Eagle [Cheektowaga, NY] 12 Feb. 1998: 2. Print.
"Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Of Holy Trinity Church, East Falls Street, Will Be Celebrated Next June 12." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 11 Apr. 1927: 22. Print.

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