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History of Our Church
Although the majority of Polish immigrants arriving in Western New York at the turn of the century continued to settle within the limits of the city's eastern section, they were too numerous to avoid the congested city living conditions, and they began to establish their homes in the sparsely settled suburban areas such as Genesee, Walden, Bailey, and William streets. Cutting through the Polish settlement, directly across Cheektowaga were natural avenues of expansion.
As more families settled in the Harlem William vicinity, they planned to organize a parish. Bishop Charles Colton in a written statement, dated October 16, 1905, formed the parish of St. Josaphat and appointed Father Andrew Garstka, as it's first pastor.
The first job for this young priest was to get acquainted with the people and collect funds for the building of the new church and school. People voluntarily brought generous gifts, being overjoyed that finally they would have their own church and school. Many of the residents were attending church at the orphanage on William St. (which was the original Motherhouse of the Felician sisters). The children attended St. Casimer's Parochial school, which was about one hours walk every day.
After six months, Father Garstka was transferred to St. Barbara's in Lackawanna, where at the same time their parish was being organized.
In March of 1906, Father Ludwik Leichert was appointed pastor. However, Father did not remain pastor for long. On June 24, 1906 Rev. Wladyslaw Hordych undertook the building of the new church and school. Originally Father Hordych bought an old barn house on William St. (where Theodore Roosevelt School now stands) designated to be used as a school. This was done so that the school would be close to the orphanage chapel where services were held. It was not until the first months of 1907 that the pastor bought land on William and Mansion St. Immediately after that, the building of the three-story building started. The fist floor was to serve as the church, the second floor the school, and the third floor the parish hall.
The corner stone was laid and blessed on June 16, 1907 by Bishop Colton. The building was completed on December 29, 1907. In January 1908 the building was opened as a church and school. The school consisted of three classrooms with 50 children each. The unoccupied rooms became the living quarters of the pastor. The entire cost of the building was $30,000.00.
In 1914, Father Hordych became the pastor of Assumption Church in Black Rock and Father Karol Mioduszewski became the new pastor. Under his administration a two-lane bowling alley was built. This was the center for youth activities in the parish. However, during the night of August 20, 1924 a big fire broke out and destroyed the building. School classes were moved to the homes of parishioners. The Nowakowski family offered their home on the corner of William and Lehigh Streets to be used as a temporary school and once again the church services were held at the orphanage Chapel. Immediately, plans began for the rebuilding. The bishop then ordered Father Mioduszewski to exchange parishes with Father Stanislaus Kroczek who was then at Sacred Heart Church in Medina, New York. Father Kroczek decided to build a rectory and a convent. At that time he lived in a house on the corner of William and Wabash. There were about 400 families in the parish at that time. Father Kroczek sacrificed a lot of time for the parish, taking care without an assistant.
In 1948, he was named a Canon with the privileges of a Msgr., however he became ill and the Franciscan Fathers with Father Emil Tokarz as the head administered the parish.
In 1949, Father Wlodarczak was named administrator. In a short time he made many improvements and with the approval of the Bishop, he began plans for a new church.
The groundbreaking for the new church took place November 5, 1950. On August 5, 1951, the blessing of the cornerstone took place. The first mass in the new church took place on the same day, the Feast of Our Lady of The Snows.
The renovation of the old church for classrooms then began. The new church was blessed on November 23, 1952 by Bishop Joseph a. Burke, then the Bishop of Buffalo.
Father Wlodarczak continued to be the administrator until he was named pastor on February 12, 1953 and installation took place on February 15, 1953. The blessings of the Stations of the Cross took place the same year. Bishop Leo R. Smith, Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo, blessed the altars on July 4, 1954. The cost of the new church was $315,000.00 and the renovation of the school was $120,000.00.
Father Frank activated many societies, like the Holy Name Society, organized the Sodality of Our Lady, the Rosary Society, and in May 1951 the Mothers Club.
The Golden Jubilee of the parish was concluded with the Liturgy headed by Bishop Leo R. Smith, Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo on November 18, 1956 with a banquet in the evening at the parish hall.
On January 8, 1961 the blessing of the Parish Center took place. The present parish center contains a hall, gym and six classrooms.
On May 31,1964 the Grotto of the Blessed Mother, next to the parish center was blessed by Bishop Stanislaus Brzana, then the Auxiliary Bishop of Buffalo.
Father Wlodarczak was named Dean of Erie County South and then named a Msgr. in the 1970's. Father Frank died on February 15, 1976. Father Max Panczakiewicz was named to succeed him and became pastor on March 18, 1976. Father Max was named a Msgr. in the 1990's. Msgr. Max died on March 6, 1994 shortly after his retirement. Father Charles Slisz was named pastor on September 1, 1992 until 1998. In 1998 the Rev. Theodore C. Rog was appointed to replace Father Slisz and remained as pastor until his retirement on December 31, 2008. He was replaced on Janurary 1, 2009 by our current pastor the Rev. Richard Poblocki .
Fr. Richard Poblocki
Father Richard studied at Wadhams Hall Seminary College in Ogdensburg NY. After completing his studies at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora NY, he was ordained by Bishop Edward D. Head in 1983.
Father Richard served at the following parishes as an associate pastor: St. Philips Church in Cheektowaga (1983 - 1987), Resurrection in Cheektowaga (1987 - 1992) and Queen of Heaven in West Seneca (March - December 1992). He was pastor of Sacred Heart and St. Mary's in Bolivar NY (1993 - 1998) and served at Queen of Peace in Buffalo (1998 - 2007). In 2005 Fr. Rick had Holy Name of Jesus in Buffalo added to his Duties.
After the closing of Queen of Peace and Holy Name he served as a supply priest for many parishes. He was named pastor of St. Josaphat on January 1, 2009.
Father Rick is proud and honored to be the priest of the people who are serious about their Faith and such a pleasure to be with.
We are grateful to God for bringing Fr. Rick to St. Josaphat Parish and wish him many years of success.