Black Madonna Connecting Parish Community of the Past to the Present at St. Stanislaus in Michigan City, Indiana.

While on the road to Michigan City, Indiana we received a call from Fr .Walter Ciesla asking if we could arrive earlier to give the preschool through 8th graders an opportunity to see the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.  Fr. West readily agreed and in no time at all we arrived at St. Stanislaus Kostka.

Some younger children started to arrive from first grade.  As soon as some 8th graders arrived we asked some boys to carry the Black Madonna in a procession down the aisle and place her in the sanctuary of the church.  A team of four boys were chosen and were proud to carry the Black Madonna.

St. Stanislaus is traditionally a Polish parish, though few people speak Polish.  The majority of the Polish people emigrated from Poland to Michigan City were from the Province of Posen in the northwest region of the country.  Polish families typically emigrated from Poland to America by saving enough money to send the eldest son abroad who in turn saved enough money to bring another member of the family, and so on, until all members of the family emigrated to the United States.

Polish immigration into Michigan City, Indiana happened largely for two reasons: political oppression in the Prussian annexation of occupied Poland  and to find their fortunes.  Polish people worked in coal mines in Pennsylvania and then migrated to Michigan City where they became workers in factories, mills or became small business owners.  It is due to the long suffering efforts of these Polish immigrants that St. Stanislaus was established.

Fr. West offered an evening mass on Thursday and another mass on the following morning. Afterwards, the people came up to venerate the icon.

At the back of the church Fr. Ciesla had historical Polish artifacts on display in a glass case.  Bl. Pope John Paul II is beloved by all Polish Catholics in a very special and ardent way.  Fr. Ciesla has a picture on display of himself as a young seminarian serving mass for Bl. Pope John Paul II.  Also prominent is a picture showing historical facts regarding Our Lady of Czestochowa.  We pray for the ongoing success of transmitting the faith at St. Stanislaus for building up a culture of life and love especially built upon Polish contributions.

Chris Morales

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