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
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
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
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 .