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Toledo Polish Churches > St. Casimir Parish,

Fremont, Ohio

St. Casimir Parish, Fremont, Ohio

 

Fremont sits in the heart of Sandusky County, and is about 32 miles southeast of Toledo. Poles began to settle in the area in the late 1870s. These Poles were primarily from the Poznan (German-occupied) area in Poland and also spoke German. There were two Catholic churches in Fremont before St. Casimir’s was founded, St. Ann’s (operational since 1841) and St. Joseph’s, which was founded as a German National parish in 1857. The Polish immigrants chose to attend services at St. Joseph’s, because they understood the German language from the old country.

 

According to Father Francis Legowski, who wrote of the early history of St. Casimir’s, the pioneer families in Fremont were Chudzinski, Rozanski, Bednarek, Nowicki, Kaczmarek, Wisniewski, Kowalewski, Klawiter, Wesolek, Kwiatkowski, Wojciechowski, Walkowski, Graczyk, Adamski, Raczkiewicz, and Florkowski.

 

A Polish priest visited the Fremont Poles to celebrate Mass and sacraments at least once a year. Some of these visiting priests were the Fathers Wieczorek, Ruszkowski, Koudelka (later a bishop), and Francis Czelusta.

 

After 1900, more Poles began to arrive in Fremont, and the Poles were ever increasingly desiring their own Polish parish and pastor. Many of these early Polish settlers’ sons chose to travel to St. Hedwig parish in Toledo to be married, chosing their brides from St. Hedwig parishioners, according to St. Hedwig marriage record books of 1907 to 1920.

 

In 1914, fearing that Father Valentine Cichy of the Polish National Catholic Church would entice the Fremont Poles into forming a PNCC there, Bishop Joseph Schrembs of the Toledo Diocese instructed Father Francis S. Legowski to travel to Fremont and speak to Father Rieken, pastor of St. Joseph’s, and the Polish families.

 

Father Rieken believed there were no more than 43 Polish families in Fremont. Father Legowski was ordered to take a census of the Poles living in the Fremont area, which he did. Father Legowski counted by actual count, 603 souls, in 105 families, with more than 150 unmarried adults, and acknowledged that he probably missed some in the short time given to enumerate.

 

After receiving the report, Bishop Schrembs created a new parish in December 1914, under the patronage of St. Casimir. Father Legowski was given the task of organizing the new parish, with the building committee of John Kaczmarek, Michael Surdyk, John Burek and John Kalinowski. John and Josephine Kaczmarek of 303 Lime Street donated 1 1/4 acres of their property to the church, on the corner of Lime and Lake Streets. The site was in the center of the Polish community on the outskirts of Fremont.

 

The building contract was given to parishioner Stanislaus Surdyk for $ 19,000. Work begain on 6 July 1915. The cornerstone was blessed on 1 August 1915, with the bishop and Father Benedict Rosinski of Toledo attending. Many Poles from Toledo also attended. The first Mass was celebrated in St. Casimir Church on 9 January 1916. The blessing and dedication took place on 4 June 1916 with Father Suplicki and Father Rosinski taking part. The church-school building was a two story and basement structure made of brick.

 

Sister M. Ernestine and Sister M. Antonia of the Sisters of St. Francis were the first teachers in the school. The school closed in 1967.

 

St. Casimir Parish was closed in 2005. Records are located in the Toledo Diocesan Archives, and some on the LDS website.

 

Pastors of St. Casimir Parish:

Reverend Francis S. Legowski (1915-1918)

Reverend W. S. Danielak (1918-1919)

Reverend F. S. Legowski (1919-1922)

Reverend Ladislaus F. Suronowski (1922-1925)

Reverend Walter Czarnecki (1925-1932)

Reverend Edward Zulka (1932-1957)

Reverend Jerome Swiatecki (1957-1967)

Reverend Sigmund J. Mierzwiak (1967-1981)

Reverend George Losiewicz (1981-1992)

Reverend Robert J. Weithman (1992-2005)

 

Bibliography:

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

Twenty-fifth Anniversary of St. Casimir Parish, Fremont, Ohio (Early Historical Sketch of St. Casimir Parish in Fremont, Ohio by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis S. Legowski), no date (circa 1940).