INTRODUCTION TO OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA
Not unlike members of other nationalities, Poles emigrated to America and to other parts of the world for political and economic reasons. In the twenty-first century, one-fourth of the people whose roots trace back to Poland live outside the borders of Poland. While searching for a better life, Poles usually brought along their Polish cultural heritage which included a strong Roman Catholic tradition and thus became missionaries of the Faith. Poles remain attached to their roots in a very special way, and they tend to take for granted that without understanding one’s roots one cannot fully develop one’s spirituality and creativity. In order to lead a creative life, Poles have to position themselves in accord with their Polish and Catholic roots.
The history of many Polish immigrant communities is compelling and valuable. However, unless it was preserved in print, little remains of it, and the work and sacrifice of many individuals has fallen into oblivion. Thus the young generation is stripped of the knowledge that rightfully belongs to it, and it loses the awareness of how their ancestors overcame the difficulties of emigration. The religious and communal history of the Polish people in Houston is a story of people who emigrated in extremely difficult circumstances, yet did not sever their ties to Catholicism and to Polish culture. The knowledge of this double heritage is the most precious gift we can offer the young Houstonians of Polish background.
The Polish Parish of Our Lady of Czestochowa has become the center of Polish religious, cultural, and social life in Houston. The Polish Parish is a place where Polish values are proclaimed and upheld and also a place where Poles and non-Poles can express fully their fidelity to God. We are not in any sense a closed community, and we welcome all Americans and all ethnic groups in our church. A key Polish value is openness to the universal mission of the Church, and thus we try to make our church a place in which our friends and neighbors of non-Polish background can feel comfortable practicing their Catholic faith and expressing their piety and identity.