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Statue of St. Hedwig in the church in Oshawa
Interior of St. Hedwig’s Church in Oshawa
Alter in St. Hedwig’s Church in Oshawa
Exterior of St. Hedwig’s Church in Oshawa

St. Hedwig’s Church

The Polish priesthood in Oshawa began with sporadic visits of Polish priests. In 1909, Rev. B. Jasiak was already visiting. Before World War I, Rev. Chodkiewicz visited from Toronto. During this time, the Poles did not have their own church, and at St. Gregory’s Church, the only place of worship that was available to them, they encountered an unfavourable attitude from other ethnic groups.

This situation improved when, in the 1930s, a second Catholic parish was organized in Oshawa under the name of the Holy Cross. The Poles joined this parish, helped build its church, and considered it their own for many years. Later on, 60 Polish families attempted to obtain permission for the organization of a Polish parish. This idea blossomed after World War II, when a new wave of Polish immigrants arrived in Oshawa and increased its Polish community so much that it was possible for the idea to be realized.

A delegation was chosen, which would ask Cardinal J.C. McGuigan for his approval to organize a Polish parish. In 1949, this delegation received a negative answer because the Poles still belonged to the Holy Cross Parish, whose church was still being built. In 1952, a group of people led by the Oblate Fathers sent a written appeal to Cardinal McGuigan to renew their three-year-old request. This time they received a positive response.

In September 1952, the first priest of the newly-created parish, Rev. Piotr Klita OMI, arrived in Oshawa. The first Mass was celebrated in the new parish on October 12, 1952, in the hall of the 7th Administration of the National Polish Association in Canada. Since October 16 is St. Hedwig’s holiday, as well as the date of the founding of the parish, St. Hedwig was chosen as its patron-saint. On October 19, 1952, the first general parish meeting took place, at which a 15-person Parish Committee was chosen and the decision was made to purchase land on which a church would be built; it was purchased on February 12, 1953.

On March 12, 1953, a construction design was accepted by the Parish Committee. On June 14, the land was blessed, and construction began in the fall of 1953 by Mayer Construction Co. of Oshawa. In June 1954, it was decided to build a presbytery. On July 11, 1954, the first Mass was celebrated in the basement of the church. Two side alters were built, paintings were hung on the walls – Stations of the Cross –, and in 1956, an organ was bought.

In 1959, construction of the upper portion of the church began. Architect Joanna Ozdowska increased the capacity of the church from 400 to 600 people, without changing its foundation. Construction lasted 6 months and was completed on March 26, 1961. On June 25, 1961, Toronto’s Archbishop F. Pocock blessed the church and conducted a ceremonial Mass.

Location: 411 Olive Avenue, Oshawa, Ontario

More information:

  • Leksykon geograficzno-historyczny parafii i kosciolow polskich w Kanadzie, Editor: Rev. Edward Walewandra, Lublin 1992.
  • Events in the Life of St. Hedwig’s Parish and the Polish Community in Oshawa, Compilor: Rev. Stanisław Poszwa, Oshawa 1997.