Rev R. Byzewski: An Advocate for the Polish People - ATPC

Heritage: Articles Library

Rev. Romuald Byzewski: An Advocate for the Polish People
by Sherlyn Meiers and Marty Byzewski

22 March 2002

The third pastor of the church of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Winona, was the Rev. Romuald Byzewski, a native of Karwia, district of Nowe Miasto, West Prussia, in the government jurisdiction of Gdansk. He was born on Oct. 10, 1842, and given the name John. He received secondary education in Wejherowo and graduated on Feb. 7, 1861. He was a graduate of The Theological Seminary in Laki, Poland. He entered the novitiate of the Franciscan Recollect Province on Feb. 6, 1861, and was ordained at Luttich, Belgium, on Aug. 5, 1866. After ordination, he became professor of philosophy and theology in Laki, Poland.

He left Poland because of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" and took advantage of the general concession of Pope Leo XIII to become a diocesan priest in the diocese of Winona, Minn., in September of 1875. He was pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish from 1876 to 1890. During his tenure there, he enlarged the original wood church and planned the building of the convent for the School Sisters of Notre Dame. This red brick, three-story building was completed in 1888 and stood between the rectory and the church. It was razed in 1982.

While Fr. Byzewski was in Winona, he was instrumental in establishing the Polish Newspaper, "Wiarus" with Hiernim Derdowski and was an ardent propagator of the Polish Roman Catholic Union.

In 1889, Fr. Byzewski was sent to Detroit, Michigan. He was assigned to start a new parish. It did not take long for Fr. Byzewski to choose a Polish builder by the name of Martin Landczakowski to build the new church. In June of 1890, the cornerstone was blessed and construction was begun. The first floor was the school; the second floor served as the church and the basement was the hall. The church seated 1,700 people. The cost was about $35,000 for the new brick building. In 1891, the first Confirmation took place in the new church. In 1892, a four-classroom school was started with 282 children attending under the direction of four teaching nuns. St. Francis d'Assissi was the fifth Polish Parish in Detroit.

In 1898, nine years after he had been appointed as the first pastor of the new St. Francis Parish, Fr. Romuald was transferred to Sweetest Heart of Mary parish.

In 1899, he petitioned and was granted readmission to the Franciscan Order as a member of Assumption B.V.M. Commissariat at Pulaski, Wis. Fr. Byzewski was the pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish in Hofa Park, Wisconsin from 1899-1900. Then he became the first rector of St. Bonaventure College in Pulaski, Wisconsin. From 1904 to 1905 he was pastor of Assumption B.V.M Parish in Pulaski, and a renowned popular missionary.

He died in St. Vincent hospital in Green Bay, Wis., on Oct. 30, 1905, at the age of 64, in the 40th year of his ordination.

Related subjects:

  1. The American Immigration Collection - Who's Who in Polish America, Arno & The New York Times Winnona Daily Republican, February 6, 1886
  2. Polish Detroit and the Kolasinski Affair - Lawrence D. Orton

This story is presented here with permission of the author. -
Share your article/story, contact: ATPC - Articles/Stories.