Not content with evicting the Polish people from their parish, Father Thomas Iwanowski and the Archdiocese of Newark have now attempted to prevent Polish community from enjoying a day of food and music on a city street. Council Member Junior Maldonado and other members of the Jersey City Council have responded to demands by the Archdiocese of Newark that they revoke a permit for a Polish Festival planned for August 24 by moving it way from Our Lady of Czestochowa Church. This Festival, sponsored by major businesses and the work of many weeks of planning and preparation, would apparently expose the lie that there is no Polish community requiring ministry in downtown Jersey City.
Father Iwanowski is rarely constrained by the truth, but the truth is that the Polish Mass at Our Lady of Czestochowa had the largest attendance of all weekend Masses. The Pastor cites the need to focus on the thousands of new residents in the Paulus Hook neighborhood. Truth is, that while the housing stock has doubled during this eight-year presence, the parish numbers have only declined. The parish's longtime business manager has documented that on any given weekend in the year prior to cancellation of Polish ministry, there were many people present and contributions were higher than in the year following.
Iwanowski states that he was sent to Paulus Hook to find space for daily Mass in a waterfront office building and to enlarge the parish. After eight years, parish numbers are down, he is yet to secure space in an office building, he has bitterly divided the parish, and the physical plant is in ruins. By Iwanowski's own admission, only 250 to 170 parishioners attend the church each weekend. Perhaps he's too busy evangelizing at the Jersey Shore where he spends Tuesday to Thursday of each week at a friend's home.
We have learned from the pandemic of Church scandals that some bishops will stand with corrupt priests against the people they are supposed to serve. Unfortunately, Archbishop John J. Myers has demonstrated that he puts institutional interests above the people. He came to Newark not to serve, but to be served.
In contrast, Mayor Glenn Cunningham has demonstrated courage, integrity and leadership by standing up to Myers and refusing the demands of his bureaucracy. Ethnic groups may be subject to social engineering and eviction from Catholic parishes, but the Mayor, unlike the Council, believes the streets still belong to the people.
Daniel J. Cassidy