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 The Former Madonna of Czestochowa Parish

As told December 12, 1965

Erected: July 4, 1915
Partnered: October 9, 2002, with former Holy Rosary Parish, Republic
Merged: June 25, 2013, to form St. Francis of Assisi Parish

 Preface

​An attempt to compile the early history of a parish that has weathered as many financial and spiritual storms as ours has imposed a task of almost insurmountable difficulty.

Materials were meager, indicative of the fact that the priests in charge in the initial decades were content to labor, and to leave the recording of their deeds to Almighty God instead.

The material record exemplified in the buildings of the parish may well have pointed to the untiring zeal and energy generously expended by priests and people for the greater glory and honor of God, but the spiritual record accomplished for the eternal good of immortal souls and the temporal consolation in human miseries was written only in the book of life.

Brick and mortar were but silent witnesses to the everlasting outpouring of God's grace, and what has been accomplished spiritually in this parish throughout those past three-score years will never be known, for it has been written in the deep recesses of immortality.

On the day of judgment, no doubt, many a soul will arise in the glory of sainthood, which was derived unnoticed and unheralded from the religious life acquired, fostered and fulfilled in Madonna of Czestochowa Parish.

Therefore, the writer of this historical sketch of Madonna Parish, fully aware of the limitations set by the passing of the years and his own inability, pleads the indulgence of those who read, for it is only human effort done with hesitation and a consciousness of its incompleteness.

What follows of the early history of this parish is, with few exceptions and corrections, from the mental treasury of such parish pillars as Paul Kopec, Casimir Golembiewski and others.

 The Beginning

The history of Madonna of Czestochowa is the history of Cardale, the history of Fayette County, the history of Pennsylvania and the history of the United States of America. The pattern is always the same: the unsettled wilderness; the exploration and discovery of natural riches; the missionary following the divine command, "Go ye and teach all nations"; and the mass influx of wandering immigrants, who having fled oppressive conditions in their beloved Poland, Ireland, Italy and Slovakia, arrived to make a better living in a new environment.

In every group of people we find individuals who are creative, aggressive, or just passive. It is heartening to note that among the first settlers of Cardale area there were veritable human dynamos who possessed an indomitable determination to get at realities.

Realizing that the process of social immigration has always been difficult, these pioneers, with great tact and prudence, avoided offending national sensibilities by demanding immediate outward expression of the one priceless heritage common to them all, namely, that of the Roman Catholic faith.

Unquestionably the difficulties of planning, organizing and building were enormous but it was one of the essential characteristics of our forefathers to have what they wanted, namely, a church of their own.

Fortunately, just as the Catholic Pacific Coast had boasted of its missionary, Father Sierra; the Mississippi Valley, its Father Marquette; the Niagara Region, its Father Juniper; Jefferson and Northern Indiana Counties, its Father Wienker, Southern Fayette County had its Father Ostaszewski.

Father Ignatius Ostaszewski cared for a parish in Footedale, since his arrival in America from Poland in 1900. He is credited with having founded all the Polish parishes in the vicinity of Uniontown, among which this parish is proud to be numbered.

Ever ready to sacrifice his time to keep souls in communion with their God, Father Ostaszewski offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass for the first time in a "company house" near the Orient Crossroads – a house donated by Charles Opperman, superintendent of the Orient Mines.

He continued ministering to the people of the Cardale area in this makeshift chapel from early spring until the fall of 1907, when a temporary church was constructed on a site offered by the Orient Coal company.

On December 6, 1908, the church was established, blessed, dedicated and placed under the protection and patronage of the Madonna of Czestochowa whose miraculous shrine is at "Jasna Gora" in Poland. It served as a mission to St. Thomas Parish in Footedale.

According to all accounts, the dedication ceremony took place amidst much pomp and splendor. Reports of the occasion singled out such personalities as Mr. Baniecki, Mr. Gasior and many others who helped in the actual construction of the church.

Read the full history of the former Madonna of Czestochowa Parish.