The history of the parish

The beginnings

In 1944, plans for the creation of a third Polish parish in Toronto were initiated by the Oblate Fathers ministering at Saint Stanislaus Kostka church in midtown as the fathers sensed the urgent need for a new Polish parish in the western part of the city.

The necessity for a new church became even more apparent after World War II as hundreds of Polish immigrants began to arrive in Toronto and settle around the Polish parish of Saint Stanislaus.

Saint Stanislaus Kostka church was becoming overcrowded due to the ever-increasing number of parishioners. The parish priests were having difficulty in ministering their pastoral work and tending to the needs of all their parishioners.

Land purchase

The first efforts were made, in 1944, to purchase a Protestant church at the corner of Dundas and Dovercourt as many Polish families, which to date had settled around Saint Stanislaus, began to move out to the western part of the city. However, the purchase did not take place. This was, perhaps, an omen for the creation of the new Polish parish, because in January 1945, the Protestant church was destroyed by fire. Only the church’s auditorium was spared.

The search for a suitable site for the construction of a new church did not stop. This time, the focus was on the Sunnyside district. On April 1, 1948, the parish priest of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Father P. Klita, OMI, purchased land for the construction of a church for $15,000, at the corner of Roncesvalles Ave. and Garden Ave., from Mr. Frankfurt. Two weeks later, an adjacent house which became the presbytery, was purchased for $15,000. The joyful news of this transaction was announced at the mass celebrating the Resurrection.

Parish hall

Organizing a new parish, dedicated to Saint Casimir, was entrusted to Father Michael Smith, OMI, assistant pastor of Saint Stanislaus Kostka church. It was a huge undertaking, uncertain and even risky as only 80 families would be the foundation of the parish faithful.

On July 25, 1948, Father S. Puchniak, OMI, pastor of St. Peter and Paul in Welland blessed the land for the construction of the parish hall as a key building block of the new parish. The next day, the basement excavation began and soon after the foundation was laid. Construction moved forward quickly. On September 26 of the same year, His Excellency Fr. Bishop Webster blessed the cornerstone. Thanks to the generosity of the parishioners and their unselfish help, the parish hall was completed as a bare structure at the end of 1948.

Easter Sunday, April 17, 1949, was not only a day of thanksgiving to God but also a day of pride and joy for all the faithful of this newly formed parish. In the newly built parish hall, on the upper floor, the first Holy Mass was celebrated. – Resurrection at 6 am.

The chapel was full. Sixteen altar boys and twenty beautifully adorned girls led the resurrection procession. Father Smith OMI, Father L. Engel OMI and Father L. Caliński OMI, concelebrated the first ever Mass of the new parish. This was also the beginning of daily Mass celebrated at. 9 and 11 in the morning. On that Sunday, the first baptisms were performed and on Easter Monday the first wedding of the new parish took place.

On April 24, the first dance was held in the new parish hall, filled to the brim and vibrant with joy. On April 25, the first Easter baskets were blessed as pride and joy reflected off the faces of the parishioners.

In May, devotions to the Mother of God, so dear to the Polish heart, began. On Mother’s Day, first Holy Communion was administered to twelve children who were prepared for this great day by the Felician Sisters ministering at the parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka. On May 22, 1949, His Eminence, James Charles Cardinal McGuigan officially opened the parish and dedicated the chapel.