St. Adalbert's celebrates centennial of its founding


PROVIDENCE —St. Adalbert’s Parish in Providence celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding, with Holy Mass celebrated by Bishop Richard G. Henning, with the pastor, Father Marek S. Kupka, as a concelebrant.
St. Adalbert’s was the first Roman Catholic parish established for Catholics of Polish descent in New England. Sunday’s celebration of St. Adalbert’s centenary served as both a spiritual milestone for that parish as well as an important cultural event for the Polish-American community in Rhode Island.
The Polish heritage of St. Adalbert’s was on display throughout the Mass. Traditional Polish hymns were sung , and at the beginning of Mass, Bishop Henning was greeted in English and Polish by two students of the local Polish-language school that works in cooperation with St. Adalbert’s.
“We are so thankful that you are with us. We are blessed with your presence, to pray with us as we celebrate the one hundred years of our church,” Father Marek said in his opening remarks.
“One hundred years is a lot, when you look at the time frame,” Father Marek said to the Rhode Island Catholic. “You especially have to consider the immigrants, that they were poor…but still, they built such a beautiful church. I hope the faith that they had will continue to be our faith these days.”
St. Adalbert’s Parish was founded in 1902 to serve the needs of the growing Polish-American community in Providence. With the arrival of new immigrants, the community began to grow at a rapid rate, with a school being established for the parish in 1909.
The parish was originally located on Ridge Street in Providence, but in 1922 moved to its current location at Atwells Avenue, at that time the center of the Polish-American community in Providence. Construction of the modern building began in 1924, and was completed in 1926, and was dedicated by Bishop William A. Hickey.
In his homily, Bishop Henning noted how the Gospel message invites us to pursue a deeper communion with Christ, and through our communion with Christ a deeper communion with one another, going on to note that this is something testified by the history of St. Adalbert’s. 

“The beauty of this building, it is, in a way, a love letter across the generations,” Bishop Henning said. “Those first immigrants who came across the sea in search for a better life, they had faith in Jesus Christ, and they built here a physical expression of their faith. They gave witness, not just to this city, but to us, the generations who have followed, and have received that legacy that we must live with.”
After Mass, Bishop Henning was presented with a medal of Our Lady of Czenstochowa, a popular title for the Blessed Virgin Mary in Poland, named after the miraculous icon of the Blessed Mother painted in the 14th century.
Many of those in attendance testified to being filled with a sense of joy and pride at the day’s events.
“We love it. We are very delighted that we had the visit today. We’re very, very, very proud of this,” said Eric Lapczyk, a parishioner of St. Adalbert’s Parish. Lapczyk is a recent immigrant from Poland, who immigrated to the United States from Geansk, a city in northern Poland.
“For us, it was really important that the bishop decided to come here, because it’s a Polish church,” said Lapczyk’s wife, Iwona. “It’s been 100 years. He decided to come here and celebrate with us. Maybe he thinks the Polish community is important here in Rhode Island, and it’s a joy for us.”
Iwona was born in the Polish city of Sopot. She said that one of the defining features of life at St. Adalbert’s, and of the Polish immigrant experience more generally, is their ability to synthesize elements of Polish culture with elements of American culture.
“I think it was beautiful,” said parishioner Maureen Saroka. “I’ve been a registered member of St. Adalbert’s for 84 years. I got married here. My family got married here. I went to school here, and my three sons went to school here.
“We’re just very thankful that the bishop has come and shared this special 100th anniversary with our parish,” said parishioner Nicole Kulccyk. “Probably the biggest thing I can say is that we are blessed and thankful for his visit.”