Thursday, April 4, 2013
OUR LADY OF THE BRIGHT MOUNT POLISH CATHOLIC CHURCH
I remember attending my great aunt Kinga Stachowiak's funeral in March of 1971. I was still in high school at the time so I don't remember most of the details, but there was one detail that I have never forgotten. The mass was recited in Polish. Now, having grown up in the '50's and '60's, I remember masses being recited in Latin. I was used to that but having one said in Polish was something new. I remember my mother telling me that this was a Polish parish.
Flash forward to yesterday --- I was in the Carlsbad Library in San Diego, researching in the genealogy section. For someone who has done most of her research online, I was feeling very adventurous! Of course, I should have done more research on their holdings before my visit, but that is another lesson learned. I did find a reference book titled "Polish Americans in California 1827-1977". While perusing the book, I ran across a section about a Polish church in California. Guess what? Yes, there was a section in the book about the church that I had visited for the funeral in 1971.
According to the book, the parish of Our Lady of the Bright Mount Polish Catholic Church started in 1908 but then it moved to a new location at 5134 Towne Avenue in 1926. It moved again in 1944 to its current location on 3424 West Adams Boulevard (I do seem to recall someone saying the church was in West LA). The first Mass at the new place was said on 3 March 1944. A new church opened on 15 May 1950. It is the only Polish Catholic Church in California.
Bishop Thaddeus Shubsda, who was the first Polish American Auxiliary Bishop in Los Angeles, said his first Mass at Our Lady of the Bright Mount, which was very fitting. Bishop Shubsda later became the Bishop of Monterrey. On 29 Aug 1976, Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (who would later become Pope John Paul II) offered a mass to celebrate its golden jubilee.