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Toledo Polish Churches > Our Lady of Lourdes Church

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish: The Shrine Church

Clyde Hayes rang the doorbell of Saint Joseph Church in Sylvania in 1926 to ask Father Bernard Cranes about First Communion preparation for his sons Paul and Ken and for the children of the Holland-Sylvania Road and Hill Avenue neighborhood. Father Crane arranged for two Sisters of Saint Francis, the first of 74 sisters, to prepare the children in a dance hall next to Martin Sniegowski’s general store.

Bishop Samuel A. Stritch purchased 21 acres on Hill Avenue for a church to serve the 65 families who lived near Stop 16 of the trolley line. He dedicated the wooden church named in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes on September 17, 1927. The congregation was mostly Polish, but it was not a national church. A Mission Chapel for 46 years, the pastor of Saint Hyacinth, Father John Lubiatowski, served as pastor for four years. Sister Mary Imelda Czubek, OSF was the first principal of Our Lady of Lourdes School, which opened in September 1927 with two teachers and 90 students in grades 1 through 7.

On March 1, 1957 Bishop George J. Rehring established the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes with defined boundaries, which added 150 families to the parish, by taking territory from Maumee St. Joseph and Toledo Little Flower parishes.

Over the decades, the parish community had many notable achievements. The people, mainly Polish-Americans, built a grotto and shrine to honor their patroness during the Great Depression. Farmers hauled stone from their fields; many donated broken glass to be mixed with the mortar for the cross at the top of the shrine, which was dedicated on October 12, 1933, just two months before Bernadette Soubirous was canonized.

Many parishioners served in the armed forces during World War II. A Memorial Day service in the early 1980’s was notable because Alexander Drabik, the first Allied soldier in Nazi Germany, carried the American flag. On March 7, 1945, Sergeant Drabik led 10 Company A soldiers of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 9th Armored Division across the Ludendorff railroad bridge from Remagen, Germany to the Rhine River east bank. Although it had been prepared for demolition, they ran through heavy enemy fire, cleared bridge towers of snipers and demolition crews, and eradicated snipers and gun crews along the bank and cliffs. Drabik was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on March 27, 1945 for “extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy” and “unflinching valor.” He secured the first bridgehead across the Rhine, shortened World War II and saved 50,000 lives. On May 28, 2011, an Ohio Historical Marker was dedicated on the spot where Drabik was born in 1910 in a log cabin in Holland, Ohio. He died in 1993.

Sometime in 1983, parishioners started the Hospitality Kitchen. The kitchen has served over 500,000 meals on Wednesdays. Deacon Robert Pacholski, his wife Ginny Pacholski, Margaret Stacey, Evelyn Gozdowski and Lillian Jachimiak are five of the original volunteers who were still working in 2002.

On the occasion of its 75th anniversary in 2002, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church had 1150 families; the school had 234 children in grades kindergarten through 8, 11 full time teachers, four part time teachers a principal and one secretary. The parish was without debt; a $450,000 debt had been paid in three years in the early 1990’s. Challenges include declining membership, maintenance on old buildings and rising teacher salaries. Parish leadership addressed these problems with an Assuring our Future endowment campaign and participation in the diocesan One Faith, Many Blessings campaign. Despite these efforts, the school was closed, and the building was rented to a charter school.

The people who live near the old Stop 16, not only support Our Lady of Lourdes financially, but they support each other in many ways. Through the Hospitality Kitchen, Saint Vincent de Paul Society, RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation), Prayer Link Operation Farmhands, rural ministry, prison ministry and ministry to victims of AIDS, the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes live the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Pastors of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish:

Reverend Bernard Crane (1926-1927)

Reverend John F. Lubiatowski (1927-1931)

Reverend Michal Robaszkiewicz (1931-1937)

Reverend John A. Labuzinski (1937-1952)

Reverend Aloysius F. Sobczak (1952-1955)

Reverend Stanislaus Wojciechowski (1955-1956)

Reverend Joseph F. Mrowca (1956-1961)

Reverend Raymond C. Przybyla (1961-1978)

Reverend Neil Lucas (1978-1986)

Reverend Jeffrey P. Sikorski (1986-1991)

Reverend Thomas E. Wehinger (1991-2007)

Reverend James E. Brown (2007-2011)

Reverend Joseph Cardone (2011-present)

Principals:

1927 - Sister Mary Imelda Czubek, OSF; Susan Mueller

First Communion Class: May 24, 1931

First Confirmation Class: May 4, 1930; administered by Most Reverend Samuel Alphonse Stritch, Bishop of Toledo

Patron Saint:

Our Lady of Lourdes, feast day February 11

In 1858, a small woman dressed in a blue gown and white cloak appeared 18 times to fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes in southern France. The lady identified herself as the Immaculate Conception. She told Bernadette to drink from an unknown fountain, which suddenly flowed in the grotto. On another ocassion, the lady requested that priests build a chapel on the spot and organize processions to the grotto. Bernadette entered a convent to pray for healing and world peace. The feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is February 11, the date of the first visit. Pope Pius IX authorized the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes in 1862. Many home gardens display statues of Mary as Our Lady of Lourdes.

Prayer:

Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.

Address:

6147 Hill Avenue

Toledo Ohio 43615

Bibliography:

Bertrin, G. (1910). Notre-Dame de Lourdes. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved May 21, 2012 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09389b.htm

“Our Lady of Lourdes,” Hanley, John and Scalia, Rosalia. A History of the Diocese of Toledo. Strasbourg, France: Editions du Signe, 2009.

“Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church,” Toledo, Ohio: 2002.

“Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes,” Catholic Online. Retrieved April 25, 2012.

Clerus Toletanus: A Directory of Clergy, Religious Communities and Parishes of the Diocese of Toledo in America, 1910 to 2011, vol. 1 no. 1