SAINT JOSEPH THE WORKER

Feast Day:  March 19

Patron Saint of households and all things practical

 

Devotion to St. Joseph evolved slowly in the Church.  His name was not added to the Canon of the Mass until 1962, and his feast day was not on the calendar until the 16th century.  The tradition that he was a widower with other children dates from an early document which is interesting but historically questionable.

Joseph was an upright man of faith and protector of Jesus and Mary.  He was the first person Jesus called “Abba,”  Father.  He was the one who taught Jesus the craft of carpentry, the person who provided for the practical needs of the Holy Family. “When we do not know how to pray, we turn to St. Joseph,” says St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

HOLY CROSS PARISH, ELYRIA, 1922

The history of Holy Cross Parish begins in 1910, when Father Albert Migdalski, pastor of Assumption Parish in Grafton, Ohio, organized the Polish-Catholic families of Elyria into a mission church. Between 1910 and 1912, Father Migdalski and the community celebrated Mass in the basement of Elyria St. Mary Church.

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Plaster and horse hair statue. Polychrome. Glass eyes. Made by the Daprato Company, circa 1930’s.

During the next ten years, the Polish mission welcomed a number of' administrators, including Father Paul KoSzczyk (1912-1913), Father John Czyzak (1913-1917), and Father Stanislaus Jastrzembski (1917-1921). Through these early years, the community began raising money; in 1914, it purchased property. Expecting to move forward with construction of a church, the mission's plans had to be suspended with the outbreak of the First World War. After almost nine years of planning, the parish broke ground for its new church in March 1923. Bishop Joseph Schrembs formally dedicated the red brick, Romanesque-style church on May 4, 1924. Bishop Joseph Schrembs raised the mission to parochial status on July 4, 1924 and appointed Father Joseph Kuta its first pastor.

The parish soon opened its school, which was staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. After the completion of the church, school, and convent, Holy Cross Parish entered into a period of internal conflict. By the spring of 1925, some members of the parish council had resigned, citing a variety of complaints against Father Kuta. Tension grew among the parishioners, culminating in a number of letters to Bishop Schrembs both supporting and opposing Father Kuta.

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On October 21, 1925, Father Stanislaus Rybacki replaced Father Kuta. The pastorate of Father Rybacki, however, turned out to be a short one, lasting only until late June 1928, when Bishop Schrembs transferred him to St. Hedwig Parish in Akron. With Father Rybacki's departure, Holy Cross Parish welcomed Father F. J. Kozlowski. The change of pastors, however, only added fuel to the fires of discontent at Holy Cross Parish. Throughout the spring and summer of 1929, the Chancery received numerous letters calling for the removal of Father Kozlowski and the reinstatement of Father Rybacki.

On April 8, 1929, Bishop Schrembs responded to the discord, appointing Father Anthony J. Suwalski administrator for the community. Bishop Schrembs's actions, however, failed to quell the tension among the Polish-Catholics in Elyria. On September 25, 1929, the Diocese warned the community against further dissent. Later that fall, the Diocese reinstated Father Rybacki as pastor of Holy Cross Parish. Along with the tension between parish factions, Holy Cross Parish also struggled with the financial burden of a new church in the economically tenuous years of the Great Depression. Bishop Schrembs replaced Father Rybacki with Father Lawrence W. Budny on February 27, 1931. By 1936, Holy Cross Parish, like many communities in the Cleveland Diocese, was struggling under a crushing debt load. Even with this burden, the parish paid for a painting of the firmament filled with praying angels over the main altar. In June 1949, Father Budny suffered a heart attack and, in August, the Diocese appointed Father Casimir L. Cudnik assistant pastor and financial administrator of the parish. On December 22, 1949, Father Cudnik became Holy Cross Parish's new pastor. Nine years later, the parish opened a new convent. The fate of the parish closely paralleled that of its neighborhood and of the economy of Elyria during the next 15 years. After 49 years, Holy Cross School closed on June 8, 1973. Father Walter P. Dobosz, the community's pastor, cited the inability of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis to staff the school and the excessive financial burden of hiring lay teachers as the principal reasons for the school's closure. During the last two decades, pastor (Father Normar A. Gajdzinski, 1979-1993), and administrator (Father James D. Schorr, 1993-present), have served the Holy Cross community. As they celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Cleveland Diocese, the 206 families of Holy Cross Parish continue to uphold the traditions of their Polish-Catholic predecessors.