The history of Holy Rosary Parish in Baltimore mirrors the early history of the Poles who left their native land to settle here in search of a better life with personal, political and religious freedom. The beginning of this ethnic parish reaches back to the end of the 19th century, to a time when a rapidly growing Polish immigrant community availed itself of the former Protestant church on Eastern Avenue and finally, in 1927, built the present magnificent church on Chester Street. The present church is considered to be one of the largest and finest examples of church architecture found in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Inside description of the parish:
The church is built in a Romanesque style. Its architectural construction is exceptional in that it has metal arch supports that eliminate the need for columns, which would obscure the view of the main altar. The main altar is constructed of Italian and Spanish marble. The central figure is the Blessed Virgin Mary handing the rosary to St. Dominic in the presence of St. Catherine. The entire design and decoration of the church reflects a deep love and devotion to our Blessed Mother and the Saints.
The life of the parish community has been vibrant and rich, encompassing many interests. Of particular note, is the fact that both priests and parishioners have been actively engaged in cultural, religious and patriotic endeavors. Many notable figures have visited our parish: General Jozef Haller, Archbishop Cieplak, Archbishop Jozef Gawlina, Cardinal Krol, and in 1976 Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later elected Pope John Paul II in 1978.
Despite the changing times and new currents that the Second Vatican Council precipitated, our parish remains faithful to many religious expressions. Marian devotion continue to be celebrated in May and October; in May, a procession around the block and crowning is held in honor of Our Lady; the sung Lamentations and Stations of the Cross during Lent; Forty Hour devotion; individual private confessions held daily; and on the First Friday of the month, Mass is celebrated in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Divine Mercy services have been ongoing since October 5, 1993.
Today, Holy Rosary Parish continues to be an oasis for those Poles and Polish Americans who wish to nourish their faith, in the Polish language, as well as their Polish church traditions. With the changing nature of the neighborhood, our parish life and traditions attract many who are not of Polish ethnicity, creating a well diversified faith community. It is a place for making friends and sharing experiences, and provides an atmosphere for cooperation and support.
Timeline of Holy Rosary Parish
1887 Cardinal Gibbons officially grants permission for the funding of Holy Rosary Church. Rev. Peter Chowaniec(picture on right) is installed as the first pastor. On December the 8, 1887, the first Mass is celebrated on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Eastern Avenue and Bethel Street. The building, formerly a Protestant Church, was remodeled to meet the specifications of the Catholic liturgy.
1892 Upon the death of Rev. Chowaniec, Rev. Mieczyslaw Barabasz is installed as the second pastor.
1887-1927 Holy Rosary School is established. A convent is build for the Felician Sisters who began to staff the school in 1892. Ground for a parish cemetery is purchased.
1914 Upon the death of Rev. Barabasz, Rev. Stanislaus Wachowiak(picture on right) is installed as the third pastor.
1914-1918 The parish sends 1200 volunteers to fight for Poland’s freedom (Haller’s army). Financial aid and packages are also send to the newly freed nation of Poland.
1924 Rev. Stanislaus Wachowiak is appointed Papal Chamberlain, with the title Monsignor.
1927 Msgr. Wachowiak decides to relocate the rapidly growing parish and build a new church and rectory. Archbishop Curley blesses the cornerstones on Chester Street.
1928 Archbishop Curley dedicates the current church.
1929 Pope Pius XI names Msgr. Stanislaus Wachowiak a Domestic Prelate.
1933-1939 Msgr. Wachowiak organizes a relief effort for parishioners affected by the depression.
1951 Rt. Rev. Msgr. Wachowiak blesses the cornerstones for the new school for 1000 students (old school had 1,700 enrollmnet in 1929) and the convent for the teaching sisters. A monument for the soldiers from our parish, who have died from 1941 to the current times, is built and dedicated.
1968 Installations of a fourth pastor, Rev. Chester Mieczkowski.
1971 Priests from the Society of Christ are invited to assist with the pastoral needs for the growing numbers of native Polish parishioners.
1976 Seventeen Polish bishops under the leadership of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later elected Pope John Paul II in 1978, take part in the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia and visit our church. This is followed by a luncheon in the school hall.
1981-1983 Aid for Poland is organized during the time of martial law and Solidarity’s struggle with communistic rule.
1982 Rev. Chester Mieczkowski is appointed Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor. Solemn diocesan pilgrimage of the 600 year old miraculous icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa is led by Archbishop Borders.
1987 Holy Rosary Parish celebrates its 100 years Anniversary.
1991 Msgr. Chester Mieszkowski retires and Rev. Ronald Pytel is appointed fifth pastor.
1992 The parish celebrates 100 years of service by the Felician Sisters.
1993 Sister Faustina Kowalska is beatified as Blessed. Divine Mercy Shrine is dedicated.
1995 Healing of Father Ronald Pytel takes place.
2000 Healing of Fr. Pytel is recognized as a miracle attributed to Blessed Faustina. Canonization ceremonies of St. Faustina take place in Rome.
2003 Fr. Ronald Pytel dies in November of cancer.
2004 Society of Christ is entrusted with total pastoral care of the parish. Fr. Richard Philiposki S.Ch. is appointed sixth pastor of Holy Rosary.
2005 Sisters of the Merciful Jesusfrom Poland accept invitation to come to the parish.