Buffalo New York’s, Polish community, like many others at the turn of the 20th century, saw a division in its Roman Catholic parishes.
Throughout the early years of St. Adalbert's Parish on Stanislaus Street, constant turmoil existed among the Polish congregation. Some members were dissatisfied with the Roman Catholic Diocese over who controlled the property and buildings, which they had built and maintained through their contributions. These discontented souls were forced to decide their own fate when
the Roman Catholic Bishop and his advisors rejected their requests. In August, 1895 an Independent Catholic parish was first established in Buffalo, when this group of parishioners from St. Adalbert's decided to form a separate church just a block away. The separation was over a matter of personalities and parish ownership rather than faith and doctrine.
On land purchased along Sobieski Street, on the east side of Buffalo, the first Mass was celebrated by Rev. Kolaszewski, an invited independent priest from Cleveland, Ohio, on August 8th 1895, for the members of the newly independent Holy Mother of the Rosary Parish. Two weeks later, the Rev. Antoni Klawitter, the founder of St. Adalbert's Parish returned to Buffalo at the invitation of the Sobieski Street congregation. Although his stay was short, he laid the foundation for the future of the parish. Following Rev. Klawitter, a very colorful and zealous man, Fr. Stefan Kaminski, arrived from Freeland, PA to lead the parish.
Within six months they had erected a substantial frame building, using it for both worship and schooling. This soon proved to be too small and they erected a second building alongside, using it for simultaneous services. After fire destroyed these buildings in 1903, they began construction of the building now occupying the site.
For the next 15 years, the history of the parish was full of conflict and growth. In 1896, a Synod made up of independent parishes in the area and elsewhere, elected Fr. Kaminski as their Bishop. Under his direction, a magnificent Gothic Cathedral, constructed of Medina sandstone, was erected on the Sobieski Street site and proudly dedicated in 1906.
The parish cemetery located on Dale Road in Cheektowaga, is also credited to Kaminski's list of accomplishments. To combat the myriad of stinging criticism against himself and his Church, Kaminski printed his own newspaper, "Warta", (THE GUARD or SENTRY), up to the time of his death in 1911. With the demise of Kaminski came a period of uncertainty and financial turmoil. His successor was unable to continue in his footsteps and this resulted in the default on the Cathedral mortgage. The Roman Catholic Diocese seizing the opportunity to crush the Independent movement, obtained ownership of the church at a public auction. In September 1913, the first Roman Catholic Mass was celebrated in the Independent Cathedral on Sobieski St.
For almost two years members of Holy Mother of the Rosary Parish celebrated Mass in a German Association's hall on Genesee St., but determined to get their property back, initiated a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. These Independents were fortunate to be assisted by a very capable attorney named Henry Bull and Bishop Walker of the Episcopal Diocese of Buffalo. In 1915 the NY Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of the Independents and ordered the Roman Catholic Diocese to return the property and pay
$23,924 rent for the twenty two months they occupied the church.
In 1914 with the assistance of Rev. Walenty Gawrychowski, of St. Casimir Parish of Rochester, NY, the congregation aligned itself with the Scranton, PA based Polish National Catholic Church. This church under the guidance of the dynamic Rev. Franciszek Hodur was forming parishes of its own and merging former independent parishes into its Religious community. In 1927 the young Rev. Jan Zenon Jasinski was appointed pastor of the parish. Rev. Jasinski would leave a very positive and lasting mark on this community of faith which he directed for 24 years. At its Synod held in 1928, the PNCC elected Rev. Jasinski a Bishop of the Polish National Church and he was consecrated in Scranton later that year.
The newly organized Buffalo - Pittsburgh Diocese of the PNCC, was designated to be headquartered in the Buffalo, NY parish and Bishop Jasinski was appointed its leader. Bishop Jasinski was a dynamic speaker and organizer; during his tenure, new parishes were organized and societies of the Church established. His untimely death occurred in 1951, and he was buried in the parish cemetery next to Bishop Kaminski. In 1953 the Very Rev. Thaddeus Zielinski, another distinguished and respected priest in the Polish National Catholic Church, was appointed Pastor of Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral and was elected Bishop of the Buffalo Cathedral.
In 1969, during the Polish National Catholic Church's Synod, Bishop Zielinski was elected Prime Bishop, and took up residence in Scranton, PA, the Polish National Catholic Church's headquarters. Bishops that followed were, Bishop Daniel Cyganowski; Bishop Francis Rowinski; Bishop John Swantek; Bishop Thaddeus Peplowski and currently Bishop John E. Mack.
With the problems of a changing neighborhood, the parish reluctantly considered moving from the old eastside of Buffalo to its suburbs. This very difficult decision was finally voted upon by the parish membership and implemented in 1992. The last Mass was sadly offered in the Sobieski Street Cathedral in October of 1993. A temporary worship site was found at the old Annunciation Church on Clinton Street in Elma, NY until the new Cathedral complex was completed.
This multimillion dollar complex located on Broadway near Schwartz Road in Lancaster NY, was opened in 1995, in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the parish. Some of the old Cathedral's artifacts were removed and placed in the new complex; including the beautiful stain glass windows of the saints, the magnificent pipe organ, some altar appointments and the original cornerstone. The six original Cathedral bells were recently installed in a beautiful bell tower and a office and rectory were added on in 2012.
The Holy Mother Of The Rosary Parish welcomes people of all ethnic, racial and social backgrounds.