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Oct. 4 is farewell to Perham's Polish church

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community Perham, 56573
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Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

St. Stanislaus Church, which was formally established for Perham's Polish-speaking citizens in 1883, will host its final church service Oct. 4, at 11 a.m.

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Bishop John Kinney, of the St. Cloud Diocese, will be presiding at the mass.

A ceremony and dinner will follow the service.

Following is a history excerpt, provided by the church:

From the beginnings of the Catholic community in Perham in 1873 there were a number of families of Polish ancestry. After St. Henry's parish was founded, these families joined the predominantly German-speaking parish and assisted at services conducted in the German language.

In June, 1877, and again four years later, Father Schulak conducted a mission in St. Henry's Church for the Polish-speaking members of the parish. The Polish priest came at the invitation of the St. Stanislaus Society in the parish; which was founded in 1876 under the leadership of John Karsnia. In 1883 these Polish families decided to build their own church; which they did under the direction of Father Joseph Buh. It was dedicated the following year under the patronage of St. Stanislaus, whose name was already borne by the existing society.

Among the early families were those of John Karsnia, Vincent Lonski, Vincent Belka, Paul Paszyk, and Frank Rosenthal. The frame church was constructed on land located on the south side of the town, which was previously purchased by the St. Stanislaus Society.

The original parochial school was opened in 1902, but closed shortly thereafter. When Father Stanislaus Kuzniak arrived as pastor in 1912 he re-opened the school, himself teaching in it the first year. He secured the services of Polish-speaking Felician Sisters from New York to staff the school. Fire destroyed the building in 1918, but it was immediately re-built as a two-story brick structure. Declining enrollment forced the school to close in 1933, and many of the children enrolled in St. Henry's school.

From 1885 to 1912, the parish was served by 27 priests, each averaging a tenure of three years. However, in one year, 1908, the parish experienced a rapid succession of four different pastors: Fathers Florian C. Matuszewski, Joseph Ciesia, John Tokarz and Stephen Bujalski. Father Kusniak gave stability to the parish during his two terms from 1912 to 1915 and from 1917 to 1933. Father L.J. Ohotta followed Father Kusniak and served the parish until 1950. Father Stanislaus Fadrowski was pastor until 1969. Father Eugene Meemken came to serve the parish until 1981. Then Father Karel Pecovnik came to be pastor until 1987. Father Ron Dockendorf followed Father Karl.

In 1993, new pews were installed at a cost of nearly $30,000. The parish had grown to 545 members by 1994.

Starting in July 1994, the parish was served by the pastor at St. Henry's parish--due to the shortage of priests.

Stanislaus the Saint

St. Stanislaus, the namesake of the Perham parish, was killed by a corrupt king nearly 1,000 years ago.

Born July 26, 1030, of noble parents, Stanislaus as a priest won wide acclaim by his eloquence and his saintly example. He was consecrated Bishop in 1072, and by virtue of his office reprimanded King Boleslaus II, ruler of Poland, for his immorality. Because the king refused to reform his immoral way of life, which was a public scandal, he was excommunicated.

The angry king then proceeded to order some of his guards to kill Stanislaus, and when they refused, the king cut down the holy Bishop with his own sword. As a result of his deed, Boleslaus was driven from his throne and died in exile. St. Stanislaus was canonized in 1253.

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