St. Ladislaus Parish
“In the month of December, 1915, His Excellency Bishop Charles Edward McDonnell named me the pastor of a Polish parish in Uniondale, Post Office, Hempstead, Nassau County, New York.... The Christmas season was drawing near, so I made my way to see my future abode, Uniondale. The church of St. Martha was the mission of Our Lady of Loretto Parish. The pastor of this parish was Father Robert Boyle. With him I set out by horse and buggy to Uniondale to see my future home...”
It is in these words that the founding pastor of St. Ladislaus, the Rev. Wladyslaw Manka, described the beginnings of St. Ladislaus in a historical booklet published in Polish in 1928. Father Manka described the church as being a modest building, an old public school rebuilt to serve as a church. It stood alone on a tract of land with only an occasional home in the vicinity.
Not only was it inconvenient for the pastor to live at such a distance from the church, but many of the Polish people in the vicinity also felt inconvenienced. After a great deal of consultation among the Most Reverend bishop and the pastor and people, a plot of land was finally purchased on the corner of Front Street and Richardson Place. The plot and a spacious home were purchased from Floyd Weeks at a cost of $12,500.
St. Ladislaus named our parish patron
The St. John the Baptist Society, which played such an instrumental role in organizing the Hempstead parish, strongly favored the name of its Patron saint as the designation of the new paris; however Bishop McDonnell assigned St. Ladislaus as the patron of the new church. This decision, though initially unfavorable to the new parishioners, was soon accepted. Before long, plans to develop the parish were underway.
This new church was used for nearly seven years. In the meantime another addition to the rectory was utilized as a meeting place. It also served as a school for the parish children. The school was in session only during the summer, however, and enrollment was limited to thirty pupils. The church organist, Frank Sadowski, and his wife assisted the pastor with the teaching chores. Unfortunately, the school was soon abandoned because of the expense involved and the small number of students.
Many parishioners thought they would never see a new church. In 1926, however, plans were drawn by Gustave Steinbach of New York for the building of a new church. After the bids were opened, the contract was awarded to Earl Kaufmann of Floral Park for $92,600.
The bishop of Czestochowa Blesses the cornerstone
Excavation work for the new building began in April 1926. During the same year, an international Eucharistic Congress was held in Chicago, and father Manka requested that one of the delegates, Bishop Theodore Kubina of Czestochowa, Poland, bless the cornerstone of the new church. With the consent of Bishop Molloy, Bishop Kubina obliged our pastor, and the cornerstore blessing ceremony was held on Labor Day, September 6, 1926. St. Ladislaus Church, which has served our parish since its dedication in 1926, is Romanesque in style, with an admixture of Slavonic Gothic. The church measures 126 feet in length, 56 feet in width in the nave, and 74 feet in the transept. The steeple is 136 feet high.
The first mass in St. Ladislaus Church
Perhaps one of the greatest spiritual highlights in the history of any parish is the first Mass in a new church. This memorable day in the history of St. Ladislaus Parish occurred on June 3, 1927, then celebrated as the feast day of our Patron. An added feature of the day was the reception of First Holy Communion by a class of parish children. Vespers and a procession concluded the day's festivities. Father Stanislaus Rysiakiewicz of Jamaica conducted Vespers and the sermon was preached by Father Anthony Wolosz of Brooklyn. St. Ladislaus Church was solemnly blessed on January 8, 1928. The Most Reverend Thomas E. Molloy, Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese, dedicated the church, while Father Paczoski of New York offered a Solemn High Mass. He was assisted by Fathers J. Daszkiewicz as deacon and V. Casio, a Redemptorist priest, as subdeacon. Father Meceslaus Mrozinski served as master-of-ceremonies.
Father Regulski named our second Pastor
When Father Manka was transferred to Holy Cross Church in Maspeth in 1940, he was succeeded by another capable administrator - Father John Regulski. During the eight years of Father Regulski's pastorate,he too faced trying times. The men of our parish - husbands, fathers, sons and brothers - marched off to defend their country during World War II. When Father Regulski was transferred to St. Joseph's Church in Jamaica in 1948, he was succeeded by Rev. Edward F. Glamkowski. The parish was already thirty-three years old, and there was great need for repairs and replacement of Parochial property.
Father Glamkowski begins building program
The original rectory, an old building when it was purchased by Father Manka, had already senen its day. There was a need for larger and more suitable quarters for the priests, and shortly after his appointment, Father Glamkowski saw that the time was ripe for meeting this need. The original chapel, which had been used as a parish hall since the church was built in 1926, was torn down, and in its place the present rectory was built. Father Glamkowski decided to expand the church basement, thus providing facilities for society meetings and other functions. With the destruction of the old rectory in December 1950, the parish’s initial building was but a memory. A beautifully landscaped lawn with a statue of our Blessed Mother now occupied the site of the former rectory. Adjoining property was purchased to provide much-needed parking space.
The Felician sisters
The work of the Felician Sisters in the parish of St. Ladislaus in Hempstead dates back to 1938. In that year, the Sisters from the neighboring parish of St. Hedwig's in Floral Park, at the request of the pastor Rev. John A. Regulski, undertook catechetical teaching in conjunction with the teaching of the Polish language. On August 25, 1963, the first four Felician Sisters arrived to undertake the intellectual and spiritual development of the parish youth.
The Parish School
In Father Manka's 1928 historical sketch, we find the following statement: “The Parish has, besides the church, which is the pride of our parishioners, a large hall and a spacious piece of land on which, before long, a school will rise...”
The words of our founding pastor indicate that a school had been among the future parish plans for many years; however, the school did not become a reality until 1963. The parish did have a “Saturday school” that was staffed in its earliest days by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who came to Hempstead each week from St. Joseph's in Jamaica. These dedicated Sisters taught the children reading in Polish, writing, and Bible history. The classes lasted from 9 to 3, with the pastor himself teaching religion from 9 to 10. Approximately 200 children attended these weekly classes.
As time went on, the secular subjects were discontinued, but the School of Religion was kept open. When the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth were no longer able to continue this work, the Felician Sisters from St. Hedwig's in Floral Park replaced them. The Felician Sisters from St. Hedwig's never relinquished this task until the construction of St. Ladislaus School. By September 1962, seven parcels of land had been purchased, the existing buildings were dismantled and the ground cleared so that all would be ready for construction. (Three additional parcels of land to complete the block were purchased in the summer of 1963).
When final plans were completed, bids for the work were accepted. Young-Rich Associates of New York City entered the lowest bid for the construction work. Msgr. Glamkowski, Mr. Young of the contracting firm, and the representative of the Diocesan Building Office met to sign the contracts in September.
The winter of 1962-63 saw a gradual rise of the steel structure of the buildings. In early spring, 1963, progress was increasingly evident, and it was promised that the building would definitely be ready for occupancy for that 1963-64 school year. With this announcement, registration of the children was planned for March 23, 1963.
The parish welcomes the Felician Sisters
Sunday, August 25, 1963, was a memorable day in the life of our parish, as a warm and joyous welcome was given to the Felician Sisters and two lay teachers. These fine women became the first faculty of St. Ladislaus School. The principal and Superior of the school was Sister Mary Alma, and her staff included Sister Mary Vincent, Sister Mary Benita, Sister Mary Ferdinand, Mrs. Agnes Cummings and Mrs. Elvira Guarriello.
The Cornerstone Blessing
The blessing of the cornerstone took place toward the end of the month, on the feast of Christ the King, October 27. Msgr. Glamkowski, his assistants and the Sister-principal, each took part in cementing the cornerstone.