Churches and Schools

Poles joined together to establish parish churches which became a focal point of other community projects such as schools.

For many faithful Polish Catholics, the move from home parishes in the old country and into the multiethnic Catholic community in the United States was a jarring transition. Although some Polish immigrants attended churches in German or Czech American parishes, most resented their status in church organizations which were controlled by these other ethnic groups or by the dominantly Irish Catholic hierarchy. Early on in their experience in this country, Polish immigrants began to establish their own parish churches.

Petition Before 1890, Philadelphia Poles wishing to hear the Catholic Mass in their native language had to travel to Trenton, Baltimore, or Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. In 1882, a committee sent Archbishop James P. Wood this petition asking for a Polish parish to be established in Philadelphia. Eight years later, St. Laurentius at Memphis and Vienna (now Berks) Streets was dedicated. Other communities of Poles in the city followed suit with their own petitions, creating, among others, the parishes of St. Stanislaus (1891), and St. John Cantius (1892).

(Petition courtesy of Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center)


The Adam Mickiewicz Polish Language School, named after the 19th century Polish poet, provided language instruction for the children of Philadelphia's Polonia. ca. 1960.

(Stefan Sokolowski Collection)

Polish language class

Back to Preserving Polonia in America