The first steps and struggles towards the organizing of St. Valentine’s Polish National Catholic Church began in late 1930, when a group of determined Polish people, filled with love and a deep faith in God and seeking religious truth and freedom, gathered together at the White Eagle and Memorial Halls to make plans. On February 14, 1931, St Valentine’s Day, these faithful made the important decision to organize their own Church, as a parish of the Polish National Catholic Church. Three weeks later, on Sunday, March 8, 1931, the first Mass was celebrated by Bishop Walenty Gawrychowski in the Northampton Unitarian Church. He was assisted by the Rev. Leopold Dabrowski of Ware, the Reverends John Solak and Joseph Soltysiak. The Unitarian Parish allowed the use of their church facility at no charge a fact for which we are everlastingly grateful.
In March 1931, Rev. Leopold Dabrowski was assigned to the newly organized parish as its first resident pastor.
The growth of the parish necessitated the purchase of property for a church. Services were transferred to Memorial Hall while a site was selected.
A building committee made up of the following individuals laid plans for the new church: John Berestka, Alexander Dryzgula, Vincent Juszkiewicz, Konstanty Krawczynski, Melchior Kulesza, Michael Rozycki and Sergis Szumikowski.
In June 1931, land with a house was purchased at the corner of King Street and Edwards Square, which at one time had been the residence of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards.
On September 7, 1931, ground was broken for the new church building and two and a half months later, on November 16 Bishop Walenty Gawrychowski blessed the cornerstone. In November of the same year, the parish accepted a bid to build the new church. The new church was completed in January 1931 and on the last day of that month, the faithful of St. Valentine’s Parish assembled in the new edifice as their pastor, Rev. Dabrowski, celebrated the first Mass in the presence of a great number of people. The church seats approximately 500 people.
A memorable event took place on August 7, 1932, when the new church was consecrated dedicated by the founder of the Polish National Catholic Church, Bishop Francis Hodur. The following description of this event was found in the historical records of the parish: “The attendance overflowed the church and included a large crowd on the grounds. An arch had been erected at the street and on the main walk and carried an inscription of Welcome. It was decorated with laurel flowers and Polish and American Flags. The bell, which had been dedicated a few weeks prior, was rung for the first time upon the arrival of Prime Bishop Franciszek Hodur at the church. The first ceremony was the blessing of the walls of the church by Prime Bishop Hodur, leading the procession of priests, the choir and the women’s societies who processed around the church. This ceremony was followed by a dedication Mass by Bishop Walenty Gawrychowski and the sermon was preached by Prime Bishop Franciszek Hodur who also completed the service with the pontifical Benediction.”
In 1935, a rectory was built at 8 Edwards Square and used as such until the present rectory was purchased in 1946 from Mr. & Mr. John Newman. In 1941, three new altars were built by a parishioner, Walter Swieconek and consecrated at a special service by Bishop Joseph Lesniak.
The Holy Trinity Cemetery of St. Valentine's Parish consisting of several acres for gravesites and a Chapel is located in nearby Hatfield, Massachusetts. The cemetery was incorporated in 1931.
Many improvements were made over the years to the church property. During the pastorate of Rev. Francis H. Kaminski, the church mortgage was retired in 1953 and the 25th Anniversary of the Church was celebrated in 1956. The 50th Anniversary of the Church was celebrated in 1981 and the 75th in 2006.
Rev. Francis H. Kaminski the pastor from 1944-1970 passed away in July 1970. Two interim pastors served St. Valentine’s Church until Rev. Julian Pagacz was appointed Pastor in 1973 by then Prime Bishop Thaddeus Zielinski in concurrence with Bishop Walter Slowakiewicz, the Late Bishop Ordinary of the Eastern Diocese. During his pastorate, new vestments and sacred vessels for the church were purchased and improvements were made to the church properties.
The various societies of the Church were very active until the recent years. The societies included the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Society, Altar Boys’ Society, Parish Choir, Young Peoples Association, and Young Women’s Club of Maria Konopnicka.
The following pastors have served St. Valentine’s Parish:
Rev. Leopold Dabrowski - 1931-34
Rev. Edward Staropinski - 1934 (3 months)
Rev. Karol Ernest - 1934-35
Rev. Joseph Pekala - 1935-36
Rev. Augustyn Krauze - 1936 (7 months)
Rev. John Zielinski - 1936-41
Rev. Walter Pawlowski - 1941-44
Rev. Francis Kaminski - 1944-70
Rev. Stephen Kaminski - 1971-72
Rev. Francis Niemiec (Administrator) - July 23, 1972-February 13, 1974
Rev. Julian Pagacz - February 14, 1974-1996
Very Rev. Joseph Soltysiak - Administrator 1996-June 30, 2012
Rev. Randolph Calvo - Associate Administrator - 1998-June 30, 2012
Rev. Adam Czarnecki - Administrator from July 1, 2012; Pastor from March 2, 2013
History of the PNCCwww.pncc.org
Apostolic Succession in the PNCC
Adapted from an article by Rt. Rev. John Zenon Jasinski “The Apostolic Succession in the Polish National Catholic Church.”
The Polish National Catholic Church is, in one sense, as old as Christianity itself. The Divine Founder and the head of the Catholic Church is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
During the three years of our Lord’s public life, He gathered around Him a band of faithful disciples whom He instructed to bring the fruits of redemption to all nations – giving them and their successors power of mission, orders, and authority.
- Mission of teaching: Christ commanded to teach all nations His divine truth. (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Orders to dispense His grace through the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar and the Sacraments. (Luke 22:19; Matt. 28:19; John 20:23)
- Authority to guide and rule the lambs and sheep of His flock (John 21:17)
The apostles, therefore, and their legitimate successors are the persons to whom Christ entrusted the duty of forming in His name, among all nations and all ages, a spiritual society, the Holy Catholic Church. The Polish National Catholic Church is a historic continuity in that it is descended from the Church that our Lord established after His Resurrection
The Polish National Catholic Church has the same type of government that Christ gave to the apostles, has the same faith that He deposited with them, believes in the doctrine, government, and worship of the primitive Apostolic Church.
The doctrine of the Polish National Catholic Church is founded on the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Traditions, and the dogmatic decisions of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils.
The Holy Scriptures are interpreted strictly in accordance with the teachings of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers of the Catholic Church.
The doctrine is safeguarded and defined by the General Synod of the Polish National Catholic Church. Such definitions by the General Synod neither constitute nor establish new doctrines, but are official statements that the particular doctrine was revealed by God and is contained in the “Depositum Fidei, or “Sacred Depository’” of Catholic Faith.
Doctrinal symbols of the Polish National Catholic Church are the Apostles’ and the Niceo-Constantinopolitan Creeds. Recognizing Christ as the only head of the Church, it does not accept the dogma of Papal infallibility, or regard the Pope as the special representative or Vicar of Christ on earth. According to the teachings of the Polish National Catholic Church, infallibility belongs to the whole assembly of true members of the “Ecelesia” or Church, which is represented by its Synod legally and canonically called together, whose decisions are confirmed by the consensus of the Church.