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
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
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.
- The American Immigration Collection - Who's Who in Polish America, Arno & The New York Times
Winnona Daily Republican, February 6, 1886
- Polish Detroit and the Kolasinski Affair - Lawrence D. Orton
This story is presented here with permission of the author. -
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