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St. Hedwig Church Established 1911
1504 S. Kiesel -
Bay City, MI

Present church building
dedicated June 12, 1966.

In 1936, for Commemoration of the Silver Jubilee,
St. Hedwig published a church pamplet (authors unknown) containing the following church history:


Through the efforts of the Right Reverend Bishop Edward Kozlowski, pastor of St. Stanislaus church in the year of 1907, the first steps were taken to establish a Polish speaking congregation on the west side of the city. There were at that time about 80 families residing in that district, small in number but determined in spirit, active and generous; they were soon to realize the fulfillment of their hearts desire in having a church of their own, wherein they might worship God, educate and bring up their children in the faith of their forefathers.

A meeting was held in Mr. A. Piechowiak's hall, on June 2, 1907, and arrangements were made to purchase a public school building which was to serve both as a church and a school building. The land was donated by Mr. A. Piechowiak.

Rev. John Gatzke, assistant pastor of St. Stanislaus church, was given charge of the newly created parish. His devotedness and unassuming character soon won over the hearts of the people who contributed generously for the new cause.

Entrance to first church building.

Damage to building from 1913 fire.

The building was remodeled and the teaching in the school was entrusted to the Felician Sisters, on October 9, 1908. The first teachers were: Sister Mary Vitolda and a postulant Sister Catharine. They resided temporarily at St. Stanislaus parish, but were conveyed each morning to the west side school.

Father Gatzke's untiring efforts were crowned with success,. The building was enlarged, the church located on the second floor, the school and Sisters' residence on the first floor. With permission of the Rev. Bishop a pretty altar, a baptismal font, pews, a church organ and other equipment was provided.

On May 10, 1910, the church was formally dedicated and blessed by the Rev. Bishop Joseph Schrembs.

While St. Hedwig was still a mission church to St. Stanislaus church the Rev. assistants of St. Stanislaus church, the Rev. James Czachorski, Rev. Joseph Koss, Rev. L. Kuziusz, Rev. Leonard Kwasigroch and Rev. Stanislaus Skorski were delegated to hold regular services at the new established church.

In the year 1913 a fire broke out and destroyed part of the building. Rev. Ladislaus Krakowski who succeeded Rev. Bishop Kozlowski as pastor of St. Stanislaus Church, took up the work of restoring and improving the building, saving enough of the insurance money to build a rectory for the resident pastor.

The first resident pastor from 1917 to about the middle of June 1921, was the Rev. Francis L. Oprychalski. The time of his service was limited on account of ill health. Father Oprychalski resigned during the year 1921, and the Right Rev. Bishop appointed the present pastor, the Rev. Paul Felchnerowski.

Rev. Paul Felchnerowski was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on March 25, 1916, at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Grand Rapids. His first appointment was assistant at St. Adlabert's Church in Grand Rapids. Transfered as assistant to St. Joseph's Church in Manistee. He remained there but three months and was appointed pastor of St. Dominic's Church at Metz, Michigan, where remained for two years. After a short stay of four months as pastor of St. John Cantius Church of Freeesoil, Michigan, he was appointed Pastor of St. Hedwig's Church at Bay City, Michigan.

As a young priest, he took up his duties on January 22, 1922, Father Paul took up the new field of his labors with great devotion and zeal. He soon endeared himself to his people, who, until this day gladly cooperate with him. The spiritual and temporal welfare of his people has been always of a great concern to the Pastor. The generosity of the people has been responsible to the effect that the church stands today free of any indebtedness.

St. Hedwig Church can boast of a well organized and splendidly conducted choir under the direction of Miss Angeline Gaszta. At present, the Parish numbers 110 families and 125 children are attending school.

In 1966, St. Hedwig celebrated their "50th Anniversary". The church pamphlet recounting the first 50 years of its history included photos of some of the prominent persons in their history. It also recorded a number of "firsts" and "oldest" events:
First Wedding
Mr. & Mrs. Gatza


  • Church committee member: Frank Libera.
  • Baptism: Henry Libera, son of Frank and Stanislawa (Krygier) Libera
    performed on May 8, 1910 by Father John E. Gatzke.
  • Marriage: Frank Gatza and Stella Balwinski on August 29, 1910,
    ceremony performed by Father John E. Gatzke.
  • Funeral: Albin and Alphonse Balwinski, twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. Max Balwinski,
    born May 18, 1910; Albin buried on August 10, 1910 and Alphonse on August 17, 1910.

    Oldest as of 1961:

  • Living female member: Mrs. Frank Libert
  • Living male member: Mr. Max Balwinski
  • Married couple: Mr. & Mrs. Walter Jezewski

Prominent individuals in the early history of St. Hedwig in their 50 years Centennial pamplet:






The Right Rev. Monsignor
John E. Gatzke, V.F.
Celebrated First Mass
St. Hedwig Church, May 1, 1910
Rev. Francis L. Oprychalski
First Resident Pastor
St. Hedwig Parish, 1917-1921
Rev. Paul Relcherowski
Rev. August R. Zylla


  • Program in Commemoration of the Silver Jubilee, Pamphlet 1911-1936.
  • 50th Anniversary St. Hedwig Parish - Bay City, MI, Pamphlet 1961
  • St. Hedwig Menu
    Can you contribute a "personal memories" article?
    Related Pages
    Polish History & Genealogy
    People Referenced
    ?, Catherine (Sister)
    Andrzejewski, Ignatius
    Balwinski, Albin
    Balwinski, Alphonse
    Balwinski, Max
    Balwinski, Stella
    Czachorski, James (Rev.)
    Felchnerowski, Paul (Rev.)
    Gaszta, Angeline (Mrs.)
    Gatza, Frank
    Gatzke, John E. (Rev.)
    Janowiak, Andrew
    Jezewski, Walter
    Koss, Joseph (Rev.)
    Kozlowski, Edward (Bishop)
    Krakowski, Ladislaus (Rev.)
    Krygier, Stanislawa
    Kuziusz, L. (Rev.)
    Kwasigroch, Leonard (Rev.)
    Libera, Frank
    Libera, Henry
    Libera, Stanislawa (Mrs.)
    Oprychalski, Francis L. (Rev.)
    Piechowiak, Anthony
    Rytlewski, Wilhelm
    Schrembs, Joseph (Bishop)
    Skorski, Stanislaus (Rev.)
    Vitolda, Mary (Sister)
    Wiechec, Frank
  • See "Related Notes."
  • Subjects Referenced
    50th Anniversary
    Felician Sisters
    Freesoil, MI
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Maniestee, MI
    Metz, MI
    Piechoswiak's Hall
    St. Adalbert's Church
    St. Andrew's Cathedral
    St. John Cantius Church
    St. Dominic's Church
    St. Joseph's Church
    St. Stanislaus Church
  • See "Related Notes."
  • Related Notes
    1936 Business Sponsors

  • John Kantzler & Sons, Lumber Company, Bay City
  • Wm. Rytlewski, Groceries & Meats, 1200 S. Warner
  • Kolb Brewing Company
    Bay City
  • Walter Berkowski, Groceries & Meats, 1309 S. Wenona
  • W. Gregory, Cemetery Memorials, Opposite Elm Lawn Cem.
  • Martin Keit, Florist, 609 Washington
  • Hover Drug, Phamacist, 922 Washington
  • Agdanowski Studio
  • National Bank of Bay City
  • Tanner & Daily
  • Anthony Ripski, Insurance Agent, Spear & Shearer
  • K.E. Niedzielski, Hardware & Furniture, 22nd & Michigan
  • Mrs. John Marsh, Florist, 1003 Washington
  • Chas. Kindermann, Chief Deputy Sheriff
  • Pat Bishop, Draught & Bottle Beer, 804 S. Farragut
  • Monks & Touse, Insurance
  • Bart's Shoe Repair, 111 N. Linn
  • Frank Samoleski, Groceries & Meats, 207 Mundy
  • Pulaski Hall Directors
  • Southerland Sanitary, Home Bakery, 710 Midland
  • Farmer Peet's Tastimeats
  • Kuhlman Electric
  • A Friend - Mr. S.B.
  • Robt. Gage Coal Co., Water & 10th
  • Modern Plumbing & Heating Co., Bert Lindebaum Prop., Office: 601 Patterson, Sales: 207 Fifth Ave.
  • Internet Resources
    None at this time.

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