Saint Joseph's Polish Church in Denver, Colorado
517 East 46th Avenue, Denver, Colorado, 80216
www.saintjosephpolish.org • 303.296.3217 • Pastor: Fr. Stanisław Michałek SChr.
Saint Joseph's Church was built in 1902 by Polish immigrants from the industrial town of Globeville, populated mostly by immigrants of european descent. The original church was somewhat smaller than the current one (it was only 33' x 60'), and cost $2000.
Father Theodore Jarzyński became the first Pastor of the church, on July 14, 1902. Father Jarr (as he was called) tought Sunday School, and was famous for his strict discipline of errant students (they would receive a tap on the nose with his long pencil). Father Theodore started the custom of the outdoor procession under a canopy to four altars on Corpus Christi, complete with singing of Polish songs, carrying of portraits and banners by the parishioners, and children throwing flower petals along the way. Father Jarr also helped organize the Polish Literary Club, as well as the temporary Polish School and meeting place (an old frame depot, received from the railroads). Father Jarr passed away on June 14, 1922.
His successor was Father John Guziński. During the time when he was the Pastor of our church, the church was enlarged, and a new school building was completed next to the church. With help from a group of nuns, this tuition-free elementary school was used for educating youth from our parish and surrounding neighborhoods. In 1944, Father Edward Frączkowski joined our parish, as he helped out during Pastor Guziński extended year-long hospital stay. In 1948, when Pastor Guziński came back to health, Father Frączkowski had to seek employment at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, and then at Saint Mary's Church in Rifle, since our small church could not afford two priests. In 1965, Pastor Guziński built a convent for the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Father John passed away on April 4, 1969.
Father Edward Frączkowski, known as "Father Fraz", became the next Pastor of our church. Most of his work consisted of improving and maintaining buildings belonging to the church. Due to lack of funds, the Sisters left the convent, and the school building was leased to the Denver Public Schools. Father Frączkowski passed away on November 19, 1973.
Father John Mucha became the fourth Pastor. Father Mucha visited Denver in 1970, but spent most of his time in Chicago, and traveled throughout the USA. He would visit our parish from time to time, so he was known by the parishioners before he became Pastor. From the time Father John became Pastor of Saint Joseph's Church in 1973, the Polish traditions in our parish began to grow. Even though there are also Masses in English, this parish is very much Polish in every respect. Shortly after Father John came to our parish, the school was given back to the parish, and the convent next to the church became a retirement home. The school building is presently used for Polish language classes, and Sunday School. The building is often used for parties, baptism, wedding receptions, meetings of parishioners, as well as meetings of other Polish and religious organizations. Father Mucha retired in 2010.
Upon Father Mucha's retirement, a request to help find the next pastor was made to the Society of Christ Fathers (a religious Order of Brothers & Priests headquartered in Poznań, Poland, and established in 1932 to administer to the needs of Polish Emigrants). The Order's North American Provincial House is in Lombard, IL. Our next pastor, Fr. Marek Cieśla, S. CH., is a member of the Order, and came to us from the Polish Catholic Apostolate in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. Father Marek oversaw many significant improvements in the church, the rectory, and the school building. With Father Marek's suggestion and backing, a local Polish Council of the Knights of Columbus was created in our parish. Pastor Marek started numerous new customs, such as youth trips to the mountains, bike pilgrimages, and senior meetings. Thanks to the efforts of Father Marek, our parish was able to obtain the relics of Saint Faustina and John Paul II.
On August 22, 2013, Father Vicar Adam Słomiński, S. CH. joined our parish from Chicago. For the first time we had two priests in our church, which together with an expanded Holy Mass schedule, spoke of the growth of the parish.
On May 24, 2015 Father Marek Cieśla's time as St. Joseph's pastor came to an end, and he was reassigned to a parish in eastern Colorado. In the summer of 2015, and also in the first half of 2017 (when father Sławomir was recuperating), father Adam was serving as our temporary pastor. On August 16, 2015 Father Adam Słomiński was reassigned back to Chicago.
Father Sławomir Murawka, S. CH., who came from Detroit, became the next pastor of St. Joseph church in August 2015. Father Sławomir would often sing and play guitar, during the Mass and during various church events and school activities. Because of health reasons, father Sławomir left our parish in August 2017.
Father Stanisław Michałek is the current pastor.
Since the 1980s, when the Polish population in Denver began to grow, more and more people joined our parish. In 1983, Saint Joseph's Church was added to the National Register of Historical Places. At the end of 1980s, Klemens Mituniewicz beautifully painted and adorned the ceiling and walls of the church with symbollic scenes of the Catholic Faith, as well as a view of our Colorado peaks. A second sign bearing the church name was also placed above the entrance, so that it could be visible from nearby highway I-70.
In 1993, we were honored by the visit of Cardinal Joseph Glemp, and later, during the World Youth Day in Denver, and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Denver, our church became well known to many people in North America and other countries. During this time, we also hosted many priests and bishops from Poland, as well as from other areas of the United States, and we were, of course, visited by a lot of young people.
In 1994, a large cross was erected in front of the church in memory of a Missionary visit. In 1997, between the church and the rectory, the grotto of Holy Virgin Mary was planned and built by the "three Stanleys" (Gadzina, Grzebieniarz, Zapała), fulfilling the long time dream of Father Mucha.
In 2002, we celebrated the 100 years of the parish jubilee. The parish received a Blessing from Pope John Paul II, a letter from Cardinal Joseph Glemp, and many other congratulatory notes from Polish organizations and businesses. This was also a time for remembering all the parishioners, who helped our parish in the past 100 years. The official jubilee Mass was held on Christmas Day. The Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput joined us in our celebration. After the Mass, many parishioners attended a banquet at the Polish Club of Denver.
Our parish is the only Polish parish in the Central USA, so during Christmas, Easter, Corpus Christi, and other holidays, our church is visited by many Poles from throughout the USA. We also await and cherish the teachings by priests conducting Lenten retreats, who visit us yearly. All Poles visiting the Denver area look us up as well.