Stanczyk’s dziadkowie (grandparents) came from Biechow and Pacanow parishes. Each of those two parishes had a few others villages that made up the parish. It is my fondest dream that I should return to these ancestral towns and see the churches, cemeteries, libraries, Urzad Stanu Ciwilego (USC which are roughly equivalent to a County Clerk’s Office in the USA). Not to mention visit a couple of archives too.
My grandfather, Jozef Eliasz (aka Elijasz) and his father Jozef and his father Marcin were from Pacanow. Other families from Pacanow parish, like the Wlecialowskich who married into the Eliasz family and who also came to America and lived across the road from my grandmother Valeria’s farm. My grandfather Jozef help build Ciotka Rosie’s farmhouse (really a barn) with her husband Adam Gawlikowski. Ciotka Rosie (nee Wlecialowski) had a mother named Katarzyna Eliasz, who was my grandfather’s aunt. There was also Kedzierski family that my grandfather’s older brother, Jan Eliasz married into and some Kedzierskis also came to America. Funny, Stanczyk even found a friend, amongst the professional genealogists, the multi-talented Ceil Wendt Jensen whose Zdziepko ancestors came from Pacanow and settled in the Detroit area. So in a way the Polish diaspora from the parish of Pacanow reformed in Detroit (and Toledo, and Buffalo, and I am sure other Great Lake states).
Stanczyk wants to visit Pacanow’s church (Sw. Marcin / St. Martin) as a pilgrimage. The picture, near the top of this column, is the church as my grandfather would have known it (circa 1918). I wonder if my grandfather and his family helped in one of the many rebuilds or expansions of the church. My grandfather, Jozef, was a carpenter and he built a steeple on Corpus Christi Church in Detroit.
This church whose cross has been a source for pilgrims to worship due to its uniqueness dating back to the middle ages, has one more chapter. During World War II, something miraculous happened in that church. It was partially destroyed, all but the section that had the agonizing Jesus upon this sacred cross. The Russian soldiers were going to finish their godless work and tear it down. When they attempted to pull the cross down, they were blinded multiple times, until they ran away (these Bolshevik atheists) and witnesses heard them scream that the God in Pacanow is very strong. Imagine that miraculous event in my family’s ancestral church!
I am hopeful to see this church which has recently been recognized by the Vatican as a minor Basilica. It is a beautiful icon and has some church relics around it.