Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A History of the Poles in America to 1908, Part IV: Polies in the Central and Western States

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

A History of the Poles in America to 1908, Part IV: Polies in the Central and Western States

Article excerpt

A History of the Poles in America to 1908, Part IV: Poles in the Central and Western States. By Waclaw Kruszka. Edited by James S. Pula. Translated by Krystyna Jankowski. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. 2001. Pp. viii, 296. $59.95.)

This is the concluding volume of the translation of the seminal history of Poles in the United States by the priest-historian Waclaw Kruszka. Father Kruszka was an immigrant cleric with an intellectual bent who read and corresponded indefatigably to gather information on Polish American parishes across the country for his lengthy work, originally published around 1910. The carefully done translation reads well, giving the flavor of his vigorous Polish style. Never hesitant to express an opinion, Kruszka offers pen portraits of the ethnic clerics of his time which now are often the only source of such information. Normally pastors appear as devoted shepherds of their flock, as in the description of Fathers Jan Polak and Bonawentura Buczynski, O.F.M., in the engrossing story of the first Polish parish in Wisconsin, founded in Polonia (initially Poland Corner) in 1855 as a multi-ethnic congregation. Ethnic antagonism shows in his comments about the "German arrogance" of those with whom they initially shared the parish.

For Kruszka the laity are good if they are obedient and generous, but here as often elsewhere "the evil spirit of opposition and stubbornness, this original sin of American Poles. . . ," appeared and created a disruptive faction. Like many other priests, he was disturbed by excessive imbibing and "saloons, dishonestly managed, that are and always will be propagators of immorality and unrest" in parishes. The characterization of such taverns is a significant allusion to their common role as centers for lay political activity. …

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