(WINDSOR, ON) – The newest exhibit at downtown’s Chimczuk Museum celebrates a significant milestone for Windsor’s Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Polish Parish. For a hundred years the church has been the centre of local Polish culture.
The curated exhibit follows many of the highlights from the parish’s beginnings in the basement of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, where 300 Polish immigrants met to attend masses conducted by an English speaking priest, the Reverend Ralph Dignan. In real time, students translated his sermons from English to Polish.
A year later, plans were put in place to build a new building so the parish could have its own unique place of worship. Six parcels of land on Ellis Street were donated by Walter Boug; he was neither Polish nor Catholic.
On August 6, 1917, work started on what was then the first Polish Roman Catholic Parish in the diocese of London, a building that today still dominates the architecture of the street. At its official blessing in 1919, the parish had almost doubled to 500 members. By 1965, the number of parishioners had grown to over 2,100, half of the local population of Polish descendants.
The exhibit includes colourful artifacts, such as an ornate traditional Polish highlander wedding dress and a decorated young girl’s dress. A list of some of the Parish’s renowned members includes Windsor’s ward 7 councilor Irek Kusmierczyk, who was on hand to greet visitors on Saturday, the opening day of the exhibit.
He told The Square that the only time he has been away from the church was for academic reasons during his studies at Vanderbilt University and the London School of Economics. But, that changed when he met his bride to be.
Kusmierczyk told The Square he now, “… regularly attend[s] St John Vianney Church, which is where my fiancee’s family attends mass.”
Other notable members of the Parish include baker Tony Blak, industrialist Matthew Rodzik, and Justice Paul Staniszewski.
The exhibit will run until October 15.