From Manhattan to America's Czestochowa
Fr Michal Czyzewski, OSPPE
The celebration of 50th anniversary of America's Czestochowa in Doylestown took place on 26 June 2005. St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish in New York, run by the Pauline Fathers, organized a pilgrimage for the unique celebration of the Golden Jubilee of our National Shrine. To their surprise the organizers managed to gather in a very short time the required number of people willing to go there by coach. The direct preparation to the jubilee of America's Czestochowa in St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish was a rosary prayer that gathered the faithful during the novena, before the actual celebration, to be held in the spiritual capital of the Polish American community. The Rosary Family in the only Polish parish in Manhattan joined in the spiritual preparation by offering the gift of their prayers in the intention of pilgrims going to this year's celebration. The prayers of the rosary groups included the custodians of the National Shrine - the Pauline Fathers and Brothers, spiritual sons of St Paul the Hermit of Thebes.
The coach with pilgrims left New York at 8.00 a.m. With the song 'Black Madonna' on their mouths and tears in their eyes the pilgrims set out to the south of New York to meet the Mother, our Lady of Czestochowa. During the journey they said other prayers, including the hymns to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary and other Marian songs. The faithful also prayed rosary in several languages. Americans and Filipinos joined our group.
The Mass accommodated numerous worshippers of our Lady of Czestochowa. We all experienced the Mass very deeply. Some parishioners visited their relatives' graves in the cemetery at the Shrine. They remembered the Pauline Fathers who had served them for years and now rest in this cemetery. They especially thanked for the gift of life and calling of Fr Michal Zembrzuski, OSPPE, the founder of America's Czestochowa. Many parishioners from New York knew Fr Michal personally and they recollected the first mass he had celebrated in the barn chapel as well as they spoke about the beginning of the Shrine and its extension.
Many people used the occasion to buy Polish publications and books of common prayer in the bookshop at America's Czestochowa (it is not easy to buy Polish books in America). The National Shrine favours the development of Polish language and culture in the atmosphere of faith and mutual collaboration. During their return journey the pilgrims were sharing their experiences. Some visited the spiritual capital of American Polonia for the first time.
On 16 October 1966, 140,000 people participated in the ceremony of the dedication of the shrine at America's Czestochowa.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown has 1,800 seats and is 220 feet long (1 feet = 30.48 cm).