GROWING IN OUR FAITH THROUGH YEARS…
OUR PARISH HISTORY
1925 – 2000
August 20, 1925, – Bishop John J. O’Connor, recognizing the needs for the spiritual welfare of the Polish people, appointed Rev. Edward S. Kozlowski as Pastor, to organize the new Parish of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus in Linden, New Jersey.
August 22, 1925. – Father Kozlowski, the new Pastor celebrated the first Mass. This Mass was attended by twenty people in Progress Hall on Mitchell Street in Linden (Lithuanian Liberty Park Hall.) Fr. Kozlowski was not discouraged by the attendance and set out to accomplish his ordained mission. He organized the Rosary Society, the Sacred Heart Society, St. Stanislaus Society, St. Theresa’s Choir, Junior Women, Ushers, Children of Mary, and the Altar Boys. So with the faith and true Catholic spirit of their forefathers, trusting in God, and placing themselves under the guidance of St. Theresa, they purchased the property on Edgar Road, Clinton and Liberty Streets.
On June 27th, 1926, the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new church and school took place. On November 7, 1926, the Rev. Monsignor Charles H. Mackel, blessed and laid the corner stone of the new church and school of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus. First Mass was celebrated on Palm Sunday, April 10, 1927. There was even greater joy the following Sunday, which was Easter, with the celebrating of the resurrection of Christ and worshiping of Him in their new Church. Finally, on Sunday, May 8, 1927, the Rt. Rev. Msgr. John A. Duffy, D.D., Vicar General of the Diocese of Newark, dedicated the Church of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus to the service and glory of God.In September, 1930, the new St. Theresa Grammar School opened its classrooms for the children of the parish. The first class of 15 students graduated from the new school in June, 1933. The Sisters of Nazareth taught the early pupils of St. Theresa’s. To provide living quarters for the sisters, the parish broke ground for a convent on October 8, 1930 and the building was completed the following March.
The period from 1930 to 1939 marked a period of steady growth and accomplishments under the guidance of Father Kozlowski. More people were joining the Parish, therefore, Father Kozlowski petitioned the Bishop to send an assistant. Rev. Stanley Brach was sent as the first curate of St. Theresa Church on June 17, 1939. After one year of service to the church, he was transferred and Rev. Walter Nazarewicz replaced him as curate on May 30, 1940.
Through the period of the early forties, St. Theresa’s church experienced additional growth in the number of parishioners. Father Kozlowski, concern for the spiritual welfare of those committed to him, petitioned the Archbishop for a second assistant. On June 27, 1946, Rev. Chester Miodowski became the second curate of St. Theresa’s Church. St. Theresa’s Parish was blessed by God and produced a priest from its own congregation. On May 23, 1948, Rev. Daniel Danik offered his first Mass in his home church. The pride of St. Theresa’s was its students and school, which maintained high scholastic achievements. This was the result of the dedication of the Sisters of Nazareth. On August 22, 1950, the Sisters were withdrawn and replaced by the Felician Sisters.In May 1951, Father Walter Nazarewicz was appointed Pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Hackensack. Rev. Ferdinand B. Miller as the second curate replaced him in June 1951. On March 20, 1952, to accommodate the new sisters, ground was broken for a two-story addition to the convent. On April 26, 1953, with the work completed, Father Kozlowski blessed the new convent.
Father Kozlowski desired to separate school from the church. His desire became a reality in the spring of 1954, when the ground was broken for the new church. Later that year, the corner stone was blessed and construction of the new church progressed. The following year on November 5, 1955, Father Kozlowski, assisted by his curates Father Miodowski and Father Miller, and his parishioners, celebrated the first mass in the new St. Theresa’s Church. The following year, the seeds of knowledge, which were planted in St. Theresa’s School, blossomed. One of its students chose to serve God as a priest. On May 27, 1956, Father Raymond Lukenda offered his first mass in his home church.
On September 16, 1959 our Heavenly Father called to his side Father Kozlowski. He was buried on the church grounds. On September 16, 1961, his parishioners erected a shrine at Father Kozlowski’s grave, as a monument of their love and devotion for his years of dedication, leadership and accomplishments as Pastor of St. Theresa’s.
September 1959 – November1971
On November 29, 1959, Archbishop Thomas A. Boland appointed Rev. Msgr. Stanley Stachowiak to succeed Father Kozlowski as Pastor of St. Theresa.
A few months later another parishioner chose to dedicate his life to the service of God. On May 27, 1961, Rev. Thomas Piechocinski offered his first mass to God in St. Theresa’s Church. Improvements on the church and school continued. In the spring of 1962, the entire church was air conditioned for the comfort of the parishioners. To provide eating facilities for the school children and Sisters, a cafeteria was built and completed on April 2, 1962.In 1963, additional improvements were made in the school building. New doors were installed in the entire school and the kindergarten classroom was renovated and extended.On February 10, 1963, there was a need for a school library, which opened its doors with 2,575 volumes and many visual aids. In 1964, the school corridors, auditorium and cafeteria were renovated and tiled.In November 1965, major improvements were made to the church. The entire church was repainted and the side altars of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Sacred Heart were finished in mosaic tile.
The blessings continued to be showered upon St. Theresa’s Church. On June 1, 1969, Rev. Robert Babulski offered up his first Mass in his home church. A year later on May 30, 1970, when Rev. Joseph Bejgrowicz celebrated his first Mass in St. Theresa’s Church. Fr. Stachowiak purchased a new organ on October 15, 1970. The following month, on November 22, 1970, a beautiful dedication ceremony and concert was held to commemorate its installation. On Thanksgiving morning, November 25, 1970, a fire hit St. Theresa’s Church. The fire in the basement of the church was confined to the stage and burned nearby equipment. The fire itself did not cause a great loss, but the smoke and soot traveled throughout the church causing extensive damage to the entire interior. The damage from the smoke and soot required the new organ to be dismantled, cleaned, reassembled and the entire church to be repainted.
On September 1, 1971, Rt. Rev. Canon Dr. Stanislaus Stachowiak, J.C.D., became Pastor Emeritus of St. Theresa’s Church. He resided in the Parish rectory and assisted in some priestly duties. On May 12, 1976, Our Heavenly Father called to his side Rev. Father Stachowiak.
October 1971 – August 1980
On October 16, 1971, Father Vincent Bukowski was assigned to the duties of Pastor at St. Theresa’s Church.
Accepting the challenge of guiding a large parish, he worked with his curates Father Miodowski and Father Miller to provide for the spiritual welfare of his parishioners. On June 23, 1973, the Bishop appointed Father Miodowski to be Pastor of the Sacred Heart Church in North Bergen, New Jersey. Shortly after, on January 5, 1974, Father Ferdinand Miller was appointed to Pastor of St. Benedict’s Church in Newark, New Jersey. On June 6, 1974, the Bishop assigned Father Thomas Ciba to St. Theresa’s. Father Ciba, with thoughts of applying himself to other priestly work, moved on to Our Lady of Mercy, Jersey City, New Jersey, on June 21, 1975.
Father Bukowski continued the administrative and spiritual duties of a pastor with the assistance of visiting priests. On September 18, 1975, Father Bukowski organized the Parish Council of St. Theresa’s Church.
August 1980 – June 1993
On August 28, 1980 a new Pastor was assigned to the parish, Rev. Walter Górski.
At this time the vicars are: Rev. Eugene Koch and Rev. Bronislaw Wielgus, and in October Rev. Kazimierz Torla took over the position after Rev. Bronislaw Wielgus.
In 1981 he had enlarged the church’s vestibule and a stained glass window was added in the vestibule. Another source of pride for our parish was the addition of John Paul II, our parish hall. The sanctuary was completely redone.In 1982, the old rectory on Edgar Road was torn down to make room for a new parking lot. Apartments across the street from the school were purchased and became the new convent. The old convent became the new rectory. During this time the parish was flourishing with additional new parishioners at St. Theresa in Linden, helping the Pastor were the following Vicars: Rev. Stanley Ortyl, Rev. Stanley Kostrzomb, Rev. Zbigniew Choromanski and Rev. Rajmund Kopec. During the week the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated at the new addition of the Chapel (1988).
After 13 years of priestly duties at St. Theresa’s in Linden, Rev. Canon Walter Górski was assigned to Most Sacred Heart Church in Wallington, NJ.
June 1993 – June 1997
On June 19, 1993 Rev. Msgr. Walter J. Górski handed the pastorate of St. Theresa’s to Rev. Eugene Koch
He had been a curate at St. Theresa’s from 1977-1984. In 1994 Fr. Koch at the parish’s request took down the white wall behind the main altar and restored the original painting and two side mosaics. He renewed the gold leaf all throughout the church, and had some parts of the church repainted back to something closer to the original color scheme.The Hall under the Church was extended and named Pope John Paul II Parish Center. Serving the Parish as vicars during this time are: Rev. Stanley Kostrzomb, Rev. Rajmund Kopec, Rev. Marek Chachlowski, Rev. Jan Kwiecien.
At his own willingness and with the permission of Archbishop, the Pastor Rev. Eugene R. Koch leaves St. Theresa’s Parish in June of 1997 to join the Franciscans Friares of the Renewal in Brooklyn.
June 1997 – July 1998
In June 1997 a new pastor was nominated, Rev. Felix R. Marciniak.
His one-year term in the parish brings changes in the form of liturgical devotions. Accomplished at that time were renovations at the Rectory. Vicars during that time were: Rev. Marek Chachlowski and Rev. Gene Mixtacki.
In 1998, after the death of Rev. Msgr. Canon Walter Górski, Rev. Felix R. Marciniak became the new Pastor of Most Sacred Heart in Wallington, NJ.
As of August 1998 St. Theresa’s Parish received a new Pastor, Rev. Msgr. Bronislaw Wielgus.
Working with him, as vicars are Rev. Marek Chachlowski and Rev. Jan Krzysztof Lebdowicz, also a weekend assistant, Rev. Brendan Quinn.Msgr. Wielgus, in completion of Father Koch’s restoration plan, has commissioned a Tree of Life honoring those whose contributions made the beautification of our parish possible. The Church underwent a restoration during which a new air conditioning system was installed in our Church as well as renewing the rug and the tapestry of the chairs in Sanctuary.
Our Chapel located in the Rectory was re-opened as a quiet place for adoration and meditation. Also the Eucharistic Adoration on Thursday’s was changed from the Church to our Chapel.
On Sunday, May 30, 1999 Fr. Miroslaw Król celebrated his First Mass with his parish family at St. Theresa.
Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, Rector of Papal Academy of Theology in Krakow, presided at the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve to begin the Jubilee Year and also 75th Anniversary of St. Theresa Parish.