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St. Stanislaus Kostka R.C. Church, Niagara Falls, NY

With the opening of the Niagara Power Plant in 1893 and the celebration of the Pan-American Exposition in 1901, a new wave of immigration was drawn to the Niagara Frontier. Spreading out across the city, the Lithuanians established St. George Roman Catholic Church in 1914, the Lebanese formed Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in 1914, the Ukrainians started the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in 1920, and the Poles from Holy Trinity that settled around 24th Street opened St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church in 1917.

PAC 56 - St Stanislaus Niagara Falls NY Pic 2To organize and operate St. Stanislaus Kostka, Bishop Dougherty sent Father Stephen Szczepanski to Niagara Falls in mid-1917, who met with John Holody and Joseph Bociak to form the core of the church. On September 17, 1917 the new Polish parish celebrated its first Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary church, a territorial Catholic church a block west of where St. Stanislaus was building their church. The next month three Felician Sisters arrived to begin instruction for the parish’s 160 children.

The congregation waited until spring to break ground for their home, and the April 7th event was a big affair for the parish. At the formal ceremony, Father Szczepanski and Rev. Dr. Alexander Pitass each gave speeches. A large contingent of clubs and parishioners from both Holy Trinity and Our Lady of the Rosary also partook in the celebration that included a parade that wound around the neighborhood. It would take almost a year to build but the church was completed just in time for Easter of 1919.

The squat brick dual church and school building would serve Father Szczepanski until 1925, Father Haremza for a year after that, Father Dudek through the Great Depression and Father Vincent Cyman during the Second World War. The parish maintained a steady state during this time with no major construction projects, just regular maintenance and upkeep. But under the administration of Reverend Joseph Stelmach and the postwar boom, changes were needed.

St. Stanislaus School as well as much of the City of Niagara Falls experienced tremendous growth after the war. As classes began to overflow, it was decided to add a second floor to the building that would be used for classrooms. To accommodate the additional Sisters that would be needed in the expanded school a new convent was built on Welch Street in 1953.

PAC 56 - St Stanislaus Niagara Falls NY Pic 1With the school taken care of, the parishioners of St. Stanislaus could focus on a project they had dreamed of since the parish’s inception, an independent church building. In 1962, with the parish’s golden anniversary five years away, the congregation declared that they would have a new church by 1967. Within three years the parish had $240,000 in hand and hired architect Gerard M. Zimmerman, Jr. to design the church. With seating for 504 worshippers the distinctly modern gray brick building was the first built in Niagara County that conformed to the aesthetic laid out by the Second Vatican Council. Ground was broken for construction in 1965 and was finished in time for Easter of 1966.

As it was during the interwar years, St. Stanislaus was stable for the next quarter-century. The school closed in 1989 and then Holy Trinity and St Stanislaus were linked for administrative purposes. By 1996 the two parishes were overseen by Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz. In the 2000s the Journey of Faith and Grace combined five Niagara Falls parishes, Holy Trinity, St. Stanislaus Kostka, Our Lady of Lebanon, St. George, and Our Lady of the Rosary, into one: Divine Mercy Parish. As of 2016 the parish has been based at the St. Stanislaus Kostka site, keeping the church active and in touch with its Polish heritage.


"A Peep Into the Past." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 7 Apr. 1943: 6. Print.
"Divine Mercy R. C. Parish." Home. Divine Mercy R.C. Parish, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2017.
Ederer, Martin F. "Catholic Polonia in Western New York - 5 Niagara Falls’ Polish parishes" Am-Pol Ealge [Cheektowaga, NY] 6 Jan. 2005: 3. Print.
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.
Glynn, Diane. "One-Fifth of City's Youths Attend Parochial School." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 8 Oct. 1967: H-2. Print.
"Ground Breaking For Church Set." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 26 June 1965: 2. Print.
Klug, Dick. "St. Stanislaus Kostka Church Building Will Start in Spring." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 2 Jan. 1965: 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.
"PGSNYS" Polish Parishes of WNY - Detail. St. Stanislaus Kostka, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.
"St. Stan's Parish Was Formed For Early Polish Immigrants." Niagara Falls Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY] 22 Sept. 1962: 2. Print.
Witul, Gregory L. "Rosary Society Ribbon Is Part of Falls Parish's History." Am-Pol Eagle [Cheektowaga, NY] 18 Oct. 2012: 11. Print.

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