Eastern Diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church

Our History

HISTORICAL TIMELINE OF THE POLISH NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH
1866 - Francis Hodur is born in Zarki, Austrian-ruled Poland
1870 - Vatican Council 1 – Dogma of Papal Infallibility proclaimed
Old Catholic Church organizes in Germany and Switzerland, linking with Dutch Old Catholics
1889 - Declaration of the Union of Utrecht published.
1890’s - Independent parishes and movements in Polish American Catholic Communities
of Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Scranton
1893 - Seminarian Francis Hodur came to the United States
 He is ordained a priest at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Scranton.
 He is assigned as assistant priest at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish in Scranton’s South Side.
1894 - Fr. Hodur is assigned as the first pastor of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Parish in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
1895 Founding of All Saints Independent (Old Catholic) parish in Chicago, Illinois under Bp. Anthony Kozlowski, who is consecrated by Old Catholic Bishops in 1897.
- Founding of Holy Mother of the Rosary Parish under Bp. Stephen Kaminski in Buffalo, New York. He is consecrated by independent Abp. Joseph Rene Villate.
1896 – Rioting by Sacred Hearts Parish parishioners, following a dispute over cemetery funds. Parishioners want a say in the governance of the parish property and funds
1897 - Organization of St. Stanislaus Parish in Scranton, PA, March 14; March 21 first
Mass celebrated by Fr. Hodur.
 Fr. Hodur’s “Kościół Narodowy” (National Church) program announced; Calling for:
1. Legal ownership of church properties.
2. Parish government in secular matters by parish committees elected by the parishioners.
3. Appointment to pastorates of priests approved by parishioners.
4. Appointment of Polish Bishops in America by Rome with input by clergy and laity.
 Weekly Straż (The Guard) is the quasi-organ of the program.
1898 - Fr. Hodur excommunicated. (He burns the excommunication document and throws the ashes in a nearby brook.)
 In Straż Fr. Hodur challenged several Roman Catholic Church teachings, including papal infallibility and supremacy.
1900 -At a December 16th meeting a decision is made by Fr. Hodur and his parishioners
not to return to the Roman Catholic Church (by then “Polish National” parishes had
been organized in the later Priceburg (Dickson City), Plymouth, Duryea and Wilkes-
Barre, all in Pennsylvania.
1901 - First Mass celebrated in Polish on Christmas Day
1904 - 1st General Synod of the Polish National Catholic Church is held in September in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Its actions include:
1. A decisive break with the Roman Catholic Church
2. Election of Fr. Hodur as Bishop
3. Straż as official organ/newspaper
4. Election of a Great Church Council of clergy and laity
5. A Church Constitution for the Church is adopted, providing for Synods and a Great Church Council
1905 – The Polish National Catholic Church Seminary is founded; (It is later named Savonarola Theological Seminary.)
1906 – Continuation and conclusion of the First Synod – Two feast days instituted: Feast of Brotherly Love (Second Sunday in September) and Feast of Poor Shepherds (First Sunday after Christmas)
1907 – On September 29th Fr. Hodur is consecrated a Bishop by Dutch Old Catholic bishops, Utrecht, Holland (the Polish National Catholic Church has unquestionable orders and Apostolic Succession)
- The Chicago - based independent movement in Chicago joins the Polish National Catholic Church after the death of Bishop Kozlowski
1908 - The Polish National Union of America (Spójnia) fraternal insurance organization is founded by members of the Polish National Catholic Church
- Saw the first Polish Roman Catholic Bishop in the United States (one year after Bishop Hodur was consecrated)
1909 – Second General Synod – The Word of God heard and preached is recognized as a sacrament. “Polish National Catholic Church of America” is underscored as its legal denominational name.
1911 - Death of Bishop Kaminski (leader of the Buffalo-based independence movement). Many of its parishes join the Polish National Catholic Church.
1913 - Three provincial synods held (Wilkes-Barre, PA; Chicopee, MA; Passaic, NJ) to discuss the Church’s “Confession of Faith” written by Bp. Hodur.
1914 - 3rd General Synod of Polish National Catholic Church is held in Chicago, Illinois, adopts the “Confession of Faith” and instituted three new Feast Days: Feast of the Institution of the Polish National Catholic Church (2nd Sunday of March), Feast of the Fatherland (2nd Sunday in May), and the Feast of the Christian Family (2nd Sunday in October).
1921 - 4th General Synod of Polish National Catholic Church. It approves missionary
activity to begin in Poland upon its regaining independence.
 Symbol of Polish National Catholic Church adopted
 “Tyle lat” (Through the Years) adopted as church anthem
 General Confession adopted church wide with same validity as aural (private) confession
 Mandatory clerical celibacy abolished
 Fr. Francis Bończak begins mission to Poland
1922 – 11 Great Principles are written by Bishop Francis Hodur on the 25th Anniversary
of the Organization of the PNCC
1923 - December –Rola Boża, (God’s Field) newspaper becomes the Church organ
1924 – 5th General Synod of Polish National Catholic Church
 Three Diocese formed: Eastern, Central and Polish.
 Four Bishops elected and consecrated: Valentine Gawrychowski, Francis Bończak, Leon Grochowski, and John Gritenas (Bp. Gritenas heads Lithuanian National Catholic Parishes and Bp. Grochowski later heads the Western Diocese)
 Bishop Francis Hodur is “Prime Bishop.”
1926 - The Great Church Council created the Western Diocese
1928 - Provincial Synod created the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese
 A Provincial Synod elects Fr. John Z. Jasinski as Bishop of the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese
 First Synod of the Polish Diocese in Warsaw elects Fr. Władysław Faron as its Bishop.
1930 - Bishop Hodur wrote his Apocalypse – June 30, 1930
- Bp. Władysław Faron is consecrated for Polish Diocese (He was elected at the Synod in Poland in 1928)
1931 – 6th General Synod – Buffalo, Bishop Hodur laments the spiritual decline of the Church feeling many saw the Polish National Catholic Church as just a copy of the Roman Catholic Church – He offers to step down as Prime Bishop. It affirms the Polish National Catholic belief in:
 The real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist
 The role of the priest as minister of the Sacrament of Matrimony (not as a witness as in Roman Catholic Church).
 Mass facing the people instituted in Scranton by Bp. Hodur – Altar of Sacrifice introduced.
1935 - Special Synod – Fr. John Misiaszek elected Bishop and consecrated. (He was to head the Central Diocese.)
 Administrative rank of Senior Priest implemented.
 Second Polish Synod is held in Warsaw. Fr. Joseph Padewski elected Bishop.
1936 - Bishop John Misiaszek and Bishop Joseph Padewski are consecrated
1937 – Bp. Joseph Lesniak is elected Bishop at a Diocesan Synod and is consecrated to
head the Eastern Diocese
1939 - Nazis force the Polish Diocese to break with the Polish National Catholic Church
and call itself “Old Catholic Church of the Utrecht Union of the General
Government.” Bp. Padewski is in turn then returned to the United States via a 194 internee exchange.
1946 - 7th General Synod
 Intercommunion is established with the Episcopal Church
1949 - 8th General Synod
 Prime Bishop Grochowski elected to be the second Prime Bishop
1951 - Fr. Sr. Joseph Soltysiak elected Bishop of the Eastern Diocese at a Diocesan Synod. Bishop Soltysiak is consecrated and Holy Trinity Parish in Manchester, New Hampshire becomes the See of the Diocese.
 Bp. Padewski dies while held in a communist prison for trial.
 The Polish Diocese breaks from the Polish National Catholic Church and is renamed the “Polish Catholic Church.” (Polskokatolicki Kościół).
1953 - Prime Bishop Francis Hodur dies on February 16t.h
1954 - 9th General Synod of Polish National Catholic Church – heated discussion about Mass in English.
 Fr. Seniors Thaddeus Zielinski and Joseph Kardaś elected Bishops.
 They are consecrated and assigned: Bp Zielinski for the Buffalo-Pittsburgh Diocese and Bp. Kardaś for the Western Diocese.
1958 - 10th General Synod
 English Mass approved.
 Bishop Francis Rowinski elected and later consecrated. Appointed to head the Western Diocese after the death of Bp. Kardaś.
1963 - 11th General Synod
 The election of Father Senior Eugene Magyar as bishop for Czech and Slovak National Catholic Parishes is confirmed. Meeting is accepted and he is consecrated.
 First National Youth Convocation is held Buffalo, New York.
1967 - 12th General Synod creates the Canadian Diocese with See in Toronto, Ontario.
 Fr. Sen. Anthony Rysz, Fr. Sen. Walter Slowakiewicz and Fr. Sen. Joseph Nieminski elected and they are consecrated on June 26, 1968.
1969 - Prime Bishop Leon Grochowski died while visiting Poland.
1971 - 13th General Synod: Bishop Zielinski elected third Prime Bishop.
 Contemporary issues paper (abortion, birth control, war and drugs) discussed.
 Fr. Sr. Daniel Cyganowski elected Bishop and consecrated.
1975 - 14th General Synod
1976 - Intercommunion suspended with the Episcopal Church over issue of latter’s ordaining women to the priesthood.
1978 - 5th General Synod
 Bishop Francis Rowinski elected 4th Prime Bishop.
 Fr. Seniors Thomas Gnat, John Swantek and Joseph Zawistowski elected Bishops and consecrated.
 Intercommunion terminated with the Episcopal Church
1982 - 16th General Synod
1984 - Polish National Catholic Church begins dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church – hopes to end animosity between the two churches and live in harmony with mutual respect for each others traditions, teachings and practices.
1985 - 17th General Synod
 Bishop John Swantek elected 5th Prime Bishop
1990 - 18th General Synod
 Fr. Seniors Robert M. Nemkovich, Thaddeus Peplowski and Joseph
Tomczyk elected candidates for bishop
 Bishop Thaddeus Peplowski consecrated
 Journeying together In Christ: The Report of the Polish National Catholic –
Roman Catholic Dialogue is published
1993 - Bishops Robert M. Nemkovich and Joseph Tomczyk are consecrated on
October 18, 1993
1994 – 19th General Synod
1995 – May – 100th Anniversary of All Saints Cathedral Parish in Chicago, IL
 October – 100th Anniversary of Holy Mother of the Rosary Cathedral in Buffalo, NY
1997 - 100th Anniversary of St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Cathedral Parish and of the
Polish National Catholic Church - Special Masses of Thanksgiving celebrated in
all Polish National Catholic Church dioceses.
1998 - 20th General Synod
1999 – Special Polish National Catholic Church Synod elects Fr. Seniors Casimir Grotnik and John Dawidziuk candidates for Bishop. They are consecrated on November 30, 1999.
2002 - 21st General Synod
 Bishop Robert M. Nemkovich elected as sixth Prime Bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church
2003 - Journeying Together in Christ: the Journey Continues – The Report of the Polish National Catholic – Roman Catholic Dialogue 1989-2002 is published.
 November - PNCC voted out of the International Bishop Conference of the Union of Utrecht because the PNCC remained faithful to the Catholic Faith as well as the Declaration of Utrecht
2005 – Prime Bishop Nemkovich attends the funeral of Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s
Basilica in Vatican City. He is greeted by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and
Cardinal Walter Kasper while in Rome.
2006 – 22nd General Synod
 Frs. Sylvester Bigaj, Anthony Kopka, John Mack and Anthony Mikovsky elected candidates for bishop.
 The Solemnity of the Fatherland was changed to Heritage Sunday
 November 30, 2006 – consecration of Bishops Sylvester Bigaj, Anthony Kopka, John Mack and Anthony Mikovsky
2008 – Declaration of Scranton promulgated by PNCC Bishops Conference
2010 – 23rd General Synod
 Bishop Anthony Mikovsky elected as 7th PNCC Prime Bishop
 Fr. Sr. Paul Sobiechowski elected as a candidate for bishop
 Union of Scranton documents ratified
2011 – Consecration of Bishop Roald Flemestad for the Nordic Catholic Church
 The Union of Scranton comes into being
 The First Meeting of the International Catholic Bishops Conference (ICBC) of the Union of Scranton is held
 Consecration of Bishop Paul Sobiechowski
By Rev. Robert M. Nemkovich, Jr.
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