Enough is enough! As residents of Paulus Hook and members of Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church (OLC) on Sussex Street in Jersey City, we are outraged at the personal attacks on Rev. Thomas Iwanowski, the pastor of our church, by some so-called members of our community. And we are fed up with being antagonized by these alleged Christians carrying signs that slander our pastor as we enter the church every Sunday. The majority of the protestors do not even attend services at OLC. One recent protestor indicated that he had traveled from Long Island!
Daniel Cassidy’s letter appearing in the August 31 issue of the Jersey City Reporter is an example of the lowest form of personal attack on our pastor, our archbishop and, by inference, on us — the “new residents in the Paulus Hook neighborhood.” This glosses over the fact that some of these “new residents” have been residents of Jersey City for over 30 years. Furthermore, Mr. Cassidy’s association with OLC was long ago and fleeting at best. Consequently, how can he speak for or about the OLC community?
Mr. Cassidy alleges that both Rev. Iwanowski and Archbishop John Myers “attempted to prevent the Polish community from enjoying a day of food and music on a city street.” Moreover, Mr. Cassidy alleges that Rev. Iwanowski and Archbishop Myers almost have a vendetta against the Polish community of Paulus Hook. Nothing can be further from the truth. The objection was that this Polish group represented their event as a function of Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church in soliciting financial backing and the city permit.
In addition, according to Mr. Cassidy, “the physical plant (of our church) is in ruins.” That is so but it is because of years of neglect prior to Rev. Iwanowski’s arrival. It is only through his tireless efforts and generous contributions from parish members that the various buildings associated with OLC have been fixed up, and the church itself now is being revitalized. The work currently taking place on the church itself will result in a burden of well over $1 million on the members of OLC to correct these many years of neglect.
Mr. Cassidy also finds fault with how Rev. Iwanowski spends his free time. Does he begrudge Rev. Iwanowski time off? Does he require that everyone he encounters works seven days a week without a single day for rest? In his role as pastor, Rev. Iwanowski is “on” virtually 24 hours a day. While he may take time away, he is entitled to a break from work, as we all are. Even when he does take time off, he is still working and reachable by parish staff, such is his dedication to the mission he has been appointed to by the Archdiocese of Newark.
Why can’t Mr. Cassidy and the rest of the protestors accept the fact that times have changed? Rev. Iwanowski is one person trying to serve a congregation comprised of many ethnic groups, and only a small portion of one of these groups finds fault with his mission. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, in 2002 only 3.7 percent of Jersey City residents were of Polish origin. While the Polish concentration may be higher in the Paulus Hook area, the fact remains that fewer than 20 people attended the Polish-language masses at OLC. If Polish masses are such a mainstay of this particular group’s lives, perhaps they’d be happier living in Poland. Rev. Iwanowski does say Polish masses on various religious holidays and special feasts.
We have no objection to the protestors’ right of free speech. But after more than two years of this lunacy, it’s time that the next Sunday march goes east — into the Hudson River!
Michael and Shirley Niemira
Tom and Sheila Bourke