Parish History (Page 3 of 8)
1895 - 1937 (Part II)
Unfortunately, the Great Depression struck in 1929, and the costs of building the Parish Halls and School Annex proved a heavy burden on the parish that would not be lifted until 1950.
St. Mary Hall/School Annex
When Father Malusecki was not building during his years at St. Mary's, he was probably baptizing. In 1889, the first year of St. Mary's existence, there were 50 baptisms. In 1895, the first year of Father Malusecki's tenure, there were 95 baptisms and the following year there 112, By 1906, the number of baptisms was 237 and in 1910 baptisms rose to 321. The greatest number of baptisms (325) took place in 1917. Baptisms remained in excess of 200 per year until 1926. During Father Malusecki's 42 years at St. Mary's, he baptised over 8,500 infants.
In his early years at St. Mary's, Father Malusecki labored alone. Staring in 1900, a number of assistants were assigned to St. Mary's for periods of a few months to several years. One of these assistants (10/1911 - 6/1912), Father John Mickun, later returned to St. Mary's as pastor in 1938.
Father Joseph Grazdzik
Because of the numbers of immigrants, baptisms, and school students, in 1914 those families living west of the Schuylkill River were detached from St. Mary's to form St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Millmont. Earlier, St. Mary's numbers were decreased when the Slovaks of Reading formed their own parish in 1895 and the Lithuanians of Reading did the same in 1913.
Father Malusecki was preparing to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of his ordination when he died on May 11, 1937 - three weeks short of the anniversary date. The grand tribute that was to be given him in life was given in death instead. His body lay in state for three days while thousands paid their respects. It was estimated that two thousand souls packed the church for his funeral Mass while eight thousand stood outside. When the funeral Mass was over, the entire crowd processed to the parish cemetery accompanied by a band playing dirges. His body was laid to rest in the Pastor's Plot.
Father Joseph Grazdzik then became pastor of St. Mary's He was serving as pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish in Philadelphia when he was appointed to St. Mary's.
Unfortunately for him, Father Grazdzik had to fill the shoes of an energetic and well-like predecessor and he had a difficult time doing so. Shy and sickly, he was not well-received at St. Mary's In March of 1938, he was transferred to St. Casimir Parish, Shenandoah, as pastor, and the pastor there, Father John Mickun, a one-time assistant at St. Mary's, was appointed pastor of St. Mary's.
St. Mary Roman Catholic Church
250 South 12th St., Reading, PA 19602