Bishop Kulick blesses St. Mary of Czestochowa Church after completion of renovation work
By Maria Guzzo
NEW KENSINGTON –More than 200 parishioners filled St. Mary of Czestochowa Church Aug. 26 to experience Bishop Larry J. Kulick blessing their church building, now fully renovated after a tornado ripped off half its roof and dislodged a steeple during Holy Week 2020.
Three years and $4.3 million later, Bishop Kulick reminded everyone that although it was a Mass of celebration, it was also a signal of responsibility. He cautioned parishioners to not view the restored church as simply an architectural marvel, historic artifact or a museum, but as a center for mission, directing them to grow their congregation.
“This building is a shell in which people of God gather to give worship and honor to God,” he said.
Noting that while the physical reconstruction is done, “Let’s move on to the much more challenging work of evangelizing. Let us fill the pews. The walls are nothing compared to the souls that gather here in worship. Make this a place where the people of God gather, and new generations come to be consecrated to the Lord.”
The Diocese of Greensburg’s 2022 statistics indicate that St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish consists of 350 households with 611 individuals. In addition to encouraging them to draw others to God, Bishop Kulick reminded parishioners that with God all things are possible.
“We’re here today because God has blessed us,” he said. “And we are called to remember: as we receive, so we must give.”
Bishop Kulick appealed to parishioners to be generous to the Diocese and to any future endowment program at St. Mary of Czestochowa Parish to shore up finances for the future. “This is the time to be the stewards of what we inherited,” he said.
In his closing remarks, Father Kenneth G. Zaccagnini, Pastor, said the timing of the tornado just before Easter and all the work that was done with such perfection and expense was emblematic of Christ’s cross and entrance into heaven.
“It feels like a resurrection experience to me,” he said. The Bishop and Father Zaccagnini thanked the many businesses and people who had a hand in the three-year reconstruction. The church
has been open for Sunday Mass since Advent 2022, but renovations were ongoing until now.
The Mass of Completion occurred on the feast day of St. Mary of Czestochowa, patron of Poland, from where its first parishioners came. Founded in 1892, the current church building was completed in 1912.
Bishop Kulick began Mass outside the church building, where the roof had crumbled into the street.
With holy water, he blessed he outside of the building, and also parishioners and the adult and youth choirs, who sang a Polish hymn, “Serdeczna Matko,” or “Stainless the Maiden,” as everyone processed into church. During Mass, Bishop Kulick donned a gremial, or apron, and protective sleeves before using sacred chrism to anoint the walls in 12 places with a sign of the cross.
In addition to Father Zaccagnini, retired former pastors Father John S. Szczesny and Father Thaddeus J. Kaczmarek, and retired local priest Msgr. Lawrence A. Dominik, who was baptized there, concelebrated. An ice cream social followed, as is the annual custom at the parish on the feast day.