Casimir Parish was established in 1892. Large companies and several
railroads were arriving in the area, increasing the number of Poles in
St. Paul. In 1888 they organized themselves into a society named from
St. Casimir Prince. A committee was formed to collect funds for a
three lots at the corner of Forest & Jessamine were purchased. Economic
conditions prevented the beginning of construction until 1892.
Henry Jazdzewski became pastor in 1892. The first building housed both
a school on the ground floor (which opened in September of 1893 with an
enrollment of 50) and a church on the upper floor. The building was
blessed on November 27, 1892. The first mass was celebrated on December
3, 1892. The temporary rectory was at 924 East Jessamine.
next pastor was Rev. Roman Guzowski. In 1895 a new rectory was built at
the corner of Forest and Geranium.
immigrants and other nationalities joined St. Casimir parish. The
Franciscan Sisters, who were stationed in the parish mainly to teach in
the parish school, lived in a convent at 1130 Forest.
When Rev. Guzowski died suddenly in 1899, Rev. Casimir Koblylinski
became pastor. Several building projects were begun, including a
convent in 1901 and a Romanesque church in 1903. The cornerstone was
put into place in September 1904 and the structure was blessed on
November 27, 1904 by Archbbishop John Ireland. The first mass in the
new church was also celebrated that day.
1908-1987 the Felician Sisters served St. Casimir Parish. Their last
year of teaching was the 1986-87 school year.
ill health, Rev Kobylinski returned to Poland in 1910. He was replaced
by Fr. Paul Kupferschmidt, who was priest for three years until his
death in 1913.
Henry Jazdzewski was again appointed pastor. On March 4, 1916 he was in
front of the Church hearing confessions at 6:00 pm when Aneila Dudek, a
38 year old Minneapolis woman, entered the church from the side door
with her hands concealed in a muff. She approached the priest and then
aimed a .32 caliber revolver at his head, squeezed the trigger, hitting
him just above the left eye. She fired four more shots, all of them
unnecessary; the first bullet had been fatal.
later learned that this was the third attempt Mrs. Dudek had made on the
priest’s life. She had also filed three lawsuits against him, but lost
all three. She claimed he had violated his vow of celibacy and that he
was responsible for her youngest child. She was not brought to trial
until her mental condition was evaluated, but the major consensus was
that she was mentally and emotionally unstable. (No information is
available on whether or not she was convicted of murder).
Jazdzewski’s funeral was held on March 9, 1916 at St. Adalbert’s
Church. No service could be held in St. Casimir since a house of
worship violated by human bloodshed had to be re-consecrated by a
bishop, and Bishop Ireland was in Europe at the time.
parish was without a pastor until April 15, 1916 when Rev. Andrew Stojer,
OMI, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, was appointed. He stands out as the
most dominant pastor in the parish’s history—not only because of the
length of his service (until 1955) but because of the developments in
the Church during that time. He always took the Sunday collection
himself…that is, he collected the money in person, even in the Choir
loft. His masses often lasted over 2 hours (oh, the good old days),
and his sermons were delivered in both Polish and English. Fr. Stojar’s arrival began the presence of the Missionary Oblates of Mary
Immaculate’s presence as overseers of the parish, a relationship that
lasts to this day.
parish’s silver Jubilee was celebrated on November 8, 1917.
school was built in 1923. A Fall Festival lasting a week was held to
raise funds for the building. The school was blessed on November 4,
1923 and had a capacity of 600 students.
land for a new convent was purchased and construction began the
following year, with completion in 1932.
the 1920’s the parish received its first assistant pastor, Fr. Kosian,
OMI from Poland. The number of Polish immigrants to the area decreased
after 1918 when Poland gained its independence.
1942 St. Casimir celebrated its Golden Jubilee.
was a setback in projects in 1945 when two young boys lighting candles
were involved in a scuffle, causing a fire which nearly destroyed the
organ and the altar. The Blessed Sacrament was rescued by Rev. John Maslowski, assistant pastor, and the vessels were rescued by the nuns.
of 1955 Fr. Stojar collapsed twice while celebrating the mass but
stumbled back to his feet both times. An ambulance was summoned, but
he refused the stretcher and walked to the vehicle. He was taken to St.
Joseph’s Hospital, but died shortly thereafter.
John Maslowski, OMI was named pastor, and completed the building of the
rectory begun under Fr. Stojar. There were plans to improve the church
building in 1956, but Fr. Maslowski died suddenly in October of that
year. The work was finished by Fr. Paul Grzesiak, OMI. In 1960 ground
was broken for the new school addition (Geranium Street side). Rev.
Paul Latusek, OMI became the pastor in 1962 with the mandate that he
reduce the $400,000 debt of the parish.
1969, Fr. Charles Sellars, OMI, became pastor and remained until 1972
when Fr. Robert Eimer, OMI, was appointed. During his tenure, the
basement of the Church was redecorated to include a chapel and community
room, with a new entrance on the west side of the Church.
Wayne Like, OMI, Fr. Norman Pahl, OMI, and Fr. Tom Meyer, OMI were the
pastors through 1990.
John Ettensohn, OMI came to St. Casimir in July of 1989 as a Deacon,
was ordained a priest in September and became pastor of the parish in
1990. The 100th
anniversary of the parish was celebrated in 1992, shortly after the
church was redecorated. No major improvements have been made to the
church since that time.
From 1992 to 2000,
Frs. Pat Casey, OMI, and Martin Machovec served as pastors. Fr. Chester Cappucci, OMI served as the administrator of the parish for several
months until June 2001 when Fr. Greg Gallagher, OMI, a native to the
parish, returned to St. Casimir to become the pastor. Fr. Stanley Zowada, OMI, a recent arrival to the United States from Poland, and
served as the associate pastor until August, 2003.
Since June 2001 the
parish has made great strides in making our facility handicap
accessible. An elevator project began April 8, 2003. Other capital
improvements include tuck-pointing the steeples and placing copper
shingles on the steeples.
November 2004 was the
Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church (building)
Fr. Greg Gallagher, OMI made lots of improvements
to the Church and School. Fr. Greg moved on to Belleville, IL in July
of 2007 where he will be the Director for the Shrine of Our Lady of the
Fr. Joseph Ferraioli,
OMI arrived in July of 2007. He has 30+ years of parish experience and is a native of
Joseph has moved to Chula Vista, CA for his new assignment.
Fr. William O'Donnell, OMI
arrived at St. Casimir on August 10, 2011. He is now the current
Pastor of St. Casimir and St. Patrick. His previous assignment was Administrative
Assistant and Personnel Director for the Oblates in Washinton, DC.
Fr. William O’Donnell, OMI
left for Rome on June 4, 2013. He has made a smooth transition of
the cluster parish communities and improved tenant communication,
while he was here in St. Paul.
Greg Cholewa, OMI will arrive July 27, 2013 as the new pastor of St.
Casimir and St. Patrick. He has been teaching Math and Science for
the last 24 years at Holy Trinity Catholic School in Chicago, IL. He
was ordained at St. Casimir in 1976.