PARISH HISTORY & MISSION

PARISH HISTORY

 

Many immigrant families settled in what is now Pringle around 1856 and first worshipped at the Church of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Wilkes-Barre. In 1883, Catholic Masses were held in an old school house located in Edwardsville. In 1885, Bishop O'Hara appointed Father Bergan as the first pastor. During his tenure, the present property on Pringle Street and North Maple Avenue in Kingston was purchased and Masses were held in a wooden building behind the present church. After Father O'Malley was appointed pastor in 1891, the present church was completed and the parish purchased the property for the parish cemetery in Pringle. As the parish grew, the original parish house was moved over becoming Bergan Hall for meetings, and the present rectory of Spanish design was built in 1916. In the late 1930's and early 1940's, St. Ann's Chapel was constructed on East Hoyt Street and a house was purchased on Market Street for use as a convent. Next door was the parish hall.
It was always the desire of the pastor and laity of the parish to have a Catholic school to educate the children of the parishioners. However, Fathers Lynott and Caufield would consistently place the needs of the poor and marginalized first, especially during the Depression. In 1954, the desire for a school was fulfilled when West Side Central Catholic High School on North Maple Avenue began its first class. This would eventually also house a middle school, then be merged to become Bishop O'Reilly High School, and again be transformed into an elementary school, today named Good Shepherd Academy.
Many diocesan priests have served faithfully in the parish. Some would remember recent pastors, Msgr. Gaigon (1943-1965), Msgr. Boylan (1965-1975) Msgr. Clarke (1975-1989), Msgr. Conlan (1989-1996), Msgr. Van Loon (1996-2005), and Father Lapera (2005-2011). Beginning in 1946 with Father Kline, through today with Father Issing, Holy Cross priests from King's College, Wilkes-Barre, have been a unique support to the parish.
Called to Holiness and Mission was a project the Diocese of Scranton undertook to evaluate the needs and resources of all the parishes. Following extensive consultation among the clergy and laypeople throughout the diocese, the number of parishes was reduced from 196 to 121 parishes. The three parishes of Kingston were consolidated at the St. Ignatius Church site and the parish was named St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in 2009.

St. Hedwig's Church
In 1901, a group of Polish immigrants felt the need of having a home for their place of worship in their own language. Initially, they needed to travel to Wilkes-Barre or Plymouth to worship in the Polish language. A group of men petitioned Bishop Hoban and on October 16, 1901, the feast day of St. Hedwig, the parish was established. A one story basement structure was built on Zerby Avenue and services were held there until the church was completed in 1909. Pastors assigned to the parish were: Father Lipinski (1901), Father Smelsz (1913), Father Gryczka (1916), Father Kopicki (1957), Father Losienieckl (1958), Father Kozlowski (1965), Father Papka (1980), and Father Zavacki (1987)
A school was built and contained a bowling alley and a library. The rectory was built on Zerby Avenue and the cemetery was founded in Larksville. The church was renovated after Vatican II and again in 1992.
In pre-WWII years, the parish grew to 1600 families. After the war, the young people began to move away to find better jobs. St. Hedwig started to become an aging parish, with less than 400 families. In 1926, there were 250 children in the First Holy Communion Class; in 2007, there were 8 children. As many as 4 priests were assigned to the parish at one time. Father Zavacki served the parish as pastor for 20 years until his retirement in 2007. At that time, the parish was consolidated with St. Ignatius Church. The buildings were bought by Catholic Social Services to provide residences for disabled veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

St. Mary of the Annunciation Church
Poverty and persecution caused many immigrants to leave their beloved Lithuania in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A group of these immigrants came to Kingston and other towns on the west side of the Susquehanna River. They desired to create a church where they could worship God in their native language and without fear of any persecution.
In the beginning, St. Casimir's Church in Plymouth was the only parish for these Lithuanian immigrants on the West Side. Father Burda was the first pastor who welcomed all people to his church. From 1889 to 1899, Father Burda assisted his parishioners in learning their new language and customs to feel at home in these surroundings. A fire destroyed St. Casimir's Church in 1899 and some of the faithful decided to build a new church closer to their homes in the Kingston area. In February of 1902, the parishioners began to construct their new church on Zerby Avenue. The miners' strike provided many of the miners the time to spend the countless hours of hard work I the construction of the hand dug foundation.
In September, 1902, Father Kudirka was appointed the first pastor. In March, 1903, the new basement church was blessed. The construction of the rectory was begun in 1905, the cemetery was founded in Pringle in 1906, and Bishop Hoban blessed the new church on July 19. 1908. A new pipe organ was installed and the choir was begun in 1912. It was renowned because they had a unique and well done program of Lithuanian hymns and songs. Pastors of the parish have included Father Inczura (1917-1949), Father V. F. Zemaitis (1949-1953), Father Norkunas (1953-1979), Msgr. Lasky (1979-2001) and Father Yenkevich (2001-2009)
The parish structures as well as the families of the parish suffered greatly when Hurricane Agnes struck in July, 1972. However, the church was completely refurbished by the renewed hard work of the men and women of the parish under the guidance of Msgr. Lasky. The local economy was not able to recover as well from the flood, and the parish faced dwindling numbers and resources. After the study of Called to Holiness and Mission, when Father Yenkevich retired in 2009, the parish was consolidated with St. Hedwig's and St. Ignatius into the new St. Ignatius Loyola Parish at the St. Ignatius Church site.

St. Ignatius Loyola Parish
Under the leadership of Father Lapera, the blending of St. Hedwig, St. Mary of the Annunciation, and St. Ignatius in 2007-2009 has brought a new awareness of ethnic customs and spirituality. In 2011 Father John Polednak (2011-2015) began his ministry as pastor of the St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, Father Polednak served in that role until the summer of 2015; Father Chmil from 2015-2017; and Father McKernan from 2017 until his retirement in 2018. St. Ignatius Loyola Parish remains committed to exemplifying a contemporary approach to Church under our current pastor, Monsignor Tressler, as of November 12, 2018. It is active in liturgy, social outreach, cultural exchange, and spirituality. In line with diocesan guidelines, the Parish Pastoral Council is leading the parish to vision itself in the areas of Word, Worship, Community, and Service as put forth by Bishop Joseph Bambera in his pastoral letter, Wounded and Loved, Regathering the Scattered.

PARISH MISSION

 

We, the blended Catholic community of St. Ignatius Loyola, draw strength from Word and Sacrament, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist. Modeling Christ's work, we embrace our commitment to God's call. We remain faithful to the shared acts of prayer, study and service. Together we extend Christ's hospitality to others and light the path of peace for generations to come.

THE CHURCH OF
ST. IGNATIUS LOYOLA

©2020 The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola

Phone 570-288-6446

339 North Maple Ave.
Kingston, Pa. 18704

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