St. Adalbert Parish In Enfield Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Enfield's St. Adalbert Parish, founded by Polish immigrants in 1915, celebrates its 100th anniversary

Enfield's St. Adalbert Parish is celebrating its 100th anniversary on June 14.

The church was established in 1915 by the community of Polish immigrants who had come to Enfield seeking work.

The parish community is honoring their heritage this year with a 100th anniversary celebration.

"Most of the Polish immigrants who came here to Enfield were drawn by jobs that were being offered at the Bigelow Sanford carpet company," said Donna Swols, a member of the parish who has been organizing anniversary events.

Members of the Polish community who were seeking a church at the time initially attended mass in the basement of Thompsonville's St. Patrick's Church, a parish started in 1860 by Irish immigrants.

Eventually, the Polish community felt they needed a church of their own. They petitioned the bishop in Hartford and were granted permission in 1914.

On Jan. 17, 1915, the St. Adalbert Parish was officially established and Stanislaus Federkiewicz was named the parish's first pastor.

But having a parish and a pastor didn't mean they had a church yet.

"They were still worshipping at St. Patrick's," Swols said.

Initial construction on the church's basement was completed later that year and the parish held its first mass in that basement on Christmas Day of 1915.

"Because they weren't very financially stable at that point they were only able to build a basement church," Swols said. "They got the basement and the foundation and they had a little roof over where they worshipped. They celebrated their first mass…sitting on wooden crates."

Swols said even though the entire church hadn't been completed, it was important for the Polish community to have a place to call their own.

It wasn't until 1927 that the parish was able to raise enough money to build the upper church. The entire church, which is located at 90 Alden Ave., was completed in 1928.

In 1938, the Rev. Paul Bartlewski was appointed pastor of the church. Swols said his 34-year tenure with the church was important and defining for the community.

"He was the longest serving pastor at St. Adalbert's," Swols said. "If you talk to anyone, they could have been St. Adalbert's people or non-Catholics, everyone knew who Father Paul was. They called him the 'Mayor of Thompsonville.'"

Swols said Bartlewski's time with the church was defining and influential. He redecorated the church's interior, had a convent constructed and founded the church's now-closed school in 1958. The John Maciolek American Legion Post 154 was also established by church members during his time.

Though the parish has seen some changes over its 100 year, about 50 percent of the community is still of Polish heritage. Over time, others have melded into the church because they attended the school or lived nearby.

In 2011, the church was linked to St. Patrick's Church, the parish that served as the first home for the original Polish immigrants who founded St. Adalbert's.

"The parish is trying to maintain its Polish culture and heritage while at the same time recognize the fact that it has become much more diverse in modern times," said Rev. John Weaver, pastor at both churches. "The parish is still very viable in terms of people, it's financially stable and it's very active."

The parish is celebrating its anniversary with a special mass on June 14 at 2 p.m. followed by a free dinner at the Elks Club. The church is also hosting different social events throughout the rest of the year.

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