The origin of the Polish National Catholic Church of St. Joseph County, Indiana

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Krzywkowski, Leo Vincent, 1939-
Hoover, Dwight W.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
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The purpose of this study was to determine the causes for the origin of the Polish National Catholic Church in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Divided into five chapters, the first three consider the socio-economic phenomena which help explain this schism from Roman Catholicism; while the fourth traces the actual organization of the new church. Chapter V concludes the study by offering probable causes for this schism, and for the sake of simplicity, dividing these into the proximate and the remote, that is, those causes which appear at the surface, directly explaining it (the proximate); and those factors which, although separated from the event by greater intervals, give it true meaning (the remote). Of the proximate causes, that which looms prominent is the misunderstandings that the Polish Roman Catholic Church of St. Adalbert had with its pastor. This, however, only acted as a catalytic agent for problems long existing in the Catholio-Polish-immigrant community. The actual reasons for the formation of the Polish National Catholic Church, however, are complex and rooted much deeper in history. They are interwoven with a thousand years of European tradition when the Poles found comfort in their Catholic religion through times of great trouble. These troubles caused the Pole to proudly identify the Polish nation with the Rowan Catholic religion.Upon immigration to St. Joseph County in the 1870's, the Poles found themselves newcomers. What was worse, the politically dominant people of the area were Protestant Yankees and Germans. Both groups considered themselves superior to the Poles. One other group, the Irish, was becoming religiously dominant and by controlling the University of Notre Dame, would control the county's Roman Catholic Church. The Poles were no match for these groups. Unlettered and unskilled, they were WO-Western European as well. At that time the Midwest was caught in a convulsion of anti-Catholicism and soon transferred it Into anti- foreignism with the Poles becoming the principal target for abuse. Furthermore, their employment was of the meanest kind and their wages substandard. When they lashed out in desperation to remedy their plight by ,strikes, they were condemned by the community as destroyers of the free enterprise system. They had no place to turn but to that church which had helped them in Poland.However, they soon found out that the Catholic Church in the United states was different. Anglo-saxon in composition (its hierarchy ms Irish or German), it failed to understand Polish traditions, failed to defend the Pole against the rapine of industry and discriminated against him.The Pole in the meantime built many churches and sought refuge in them, So long as European born Polish priests served these parishes tension was kept to a minimum because they understood the Polish cultural background. However, as the twentieth century introduced a second generation of Polish clerics born and educated in the United States; and as these received their religious training in institutions that directed them toward the Americanization of their flocks -trouble brewed. The new clergy's efforts were looked upon with suspicion. Their attempts to Americanize were equate with denationalization. The Poles, sensitive to this because of their European experience, broke with the Roman Catholic Church.In conclusion, the origin of the Polish National Catholic Church in St. Joseph County, Indiana, lies in the depredation of an age and the real or imagined attempt of a non-Polish, Roman Catholic hierarchy to destroy the last vestige of the Polish immigrants' heritage - his centuriesold traditional parish.