The Resurrectionists

A painting on the upper wall of the Sacred Heart chapel portrays the Resurrection of our Lord along with several individuals connected to the Resurrectionists who founded St. Mary of the Angels parish.

On the lower right are four individuals: Fr. Francis Gordon, C.R., is seated with the three persons behind him: the layman directly behind Fr. Gordon is Bogdan Janski, who was a great charismatic apostle of the Polish immigrants in France. He sought to renew the life of faith of Polish people living outside their country—many people left Poland after the 1830 November Uprising—and to bring about conversion, all the while assisting with their material needs.

Although Janski got the laity involved in his apostolate, he realized he needed well-educated priests to lead them. So, in 1837, Janski sent Peter Semenenko and Jerome Kajsiewicz to Rome to prepare for priesthood. Janski joined them in Rome where he died in 1840. Before his death, Bogdan Janski directed his co-founders to develop his spiritual ideas, to live in community, and to form a new religious congregation, which should work among the Polish immigrants, establishing libraries, schools, hospitals, and seminaries for them.

Fr. Peter Semenenko and Fr. Jerome Kajsiewicz were ordained at the same time on December 5th, 1841. On the vigil of Easter Sunday, 1842—before celebrating Mass in the Catacombs of St. Sebastian—the two surviving co-founders dedicated themselves to the Resurrected Savior and called themselves “Brothers of the Resurrection.” (These are the two priests standing on the left side of the painting, Fr. Peter Semenenko on the far left and Fr. Jerome Kajsiewicz next to him behind the U.S. flag).

The Resurrectionists seek to renew “society by means of life marked by the Paschal Mystery” (Pope St. John Paul II). Their founding belief is that God’s mercy calls each of us to personal conversion, to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, and to let the new life of the Spirit be formed in us, which moves us to love the Father so as to be a living sign of God’s justice, truth, and love by supporting one another through sharing our gifts, so that all may experience the hope, joy, and peace of Christ’s resurrection.

On the far right is Fr. Vincent Barzynski, C.R., the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka, who requested Bishop Feehan to form the new parish of St. Mary of the Angels (see last week’s Weekly Note). Toward the center right of the painting (to the left of Fr. Gordon and Janski) is Fr. Edward Brzezinski, C.R., who was pastor of St. Mary of the Angels for 19 years, from 1932. He was the first Pastor born and raised in the community.

Finally, the kneeling soldier is Fr. Marian Kaleth, C.R., who was an Army chaplain during World War II and later became associate pastor of St. Mary of the Angels and pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka in 1961.

Our parish has a very rich history. We should marvel with great gratitude to God for providing the Catholic Church and St. Mary of the Angels with strong and clear minded men and women to cultivate the faith of our (great) grandparents, parents, and children, as we move forward and share our faith with the next generations.