Polish Catholic Mission
of Memphis, TN
Origin of the Polish Catholic Mission in Memphis – it has been 20 years already!!!!!   

In the beginning of the 1980’s a large group of Polish immigrants arrived and settled in the Memphis area. They were welcomed by several Polish Americans who belonged to an organization called The Polish American Society. The PAS had been involved in maintaining and nurturing Polish culture and heritage by organizing traditional Polish Wigilia Dinners and Easter Blessing of the Food. American priests had been invited to participate in these gatherings and perform the blessings. Many newly arrived immigrants joined the Polish American Society and actively participated in its activities. They had been missing, however, an opportunity to pray together in Polish, go to confession or celebrate the many Polish religious traditions in observance of which they had been raised. 

One evening of 1989, the four families of Rudnickis, Komors, Millers and Walkowcs got together. Inspired by their experience in Canada, where they had lived before coming to Memphis, Wanda and Janusz Komor came up with the idea of creating the Polish Parish of Memphis. Such a parish would give the newly arrived Polish families a possibility to pray and take confession in their native language.

First, the founders put together a petition which they intended to present to the Bishop of Memphis. The Ostatki Party of 1989 was a perfect opportunity to announce this idea and pass the document around so the people interested in establishing a Polish Parish could sign the petition. The petition was then presented by Janusz Rudnicki to Memphis Bishop J.E. Buechlein. The Bishop supported the request of the Polish community, but because it was not large enough to create a parish, he suggested that the ethnic Catholic Mission is established instead. He also said that it would be a great idea if a Catholic priest was brought from Poland to complete his education in the seminary in the US, then assigned to serve an American parish in Memphis, and at the same time the people of the Polish Mission.

The next step consisted of writing the constitution of the new Polish organization. The elected committee put together a proposal for the constitution, based on the constitution of the Mexican Catholic Mission. The proposal was sent to the Diocese of Memphis and approved by the Bishop. The Polish community established under the auspices of the Diocese of Memphis was named the Polish Catholic Mission.

It has already been 20 years since the first Polish Mass was celebrated at Christian Brothers College Chapel on Easter 1989. During this joyful occasion the Polish community was honored by the presence of Bishop Buechlein. For the next 17 years, the Polish immigrants in the Memphis area have had an opportunity to celebrate holy mass in Polish four times a year: at Christmas, Easter, in June and in September.  The Polish Catholic Mission was served mainly by the members of the Order of Discalced Carmelites Fathers from monastery in Munster, IN or Korona, FL.

Father Kazimierz Abrahamczyk, who was brought to Memphis by Bishop Terry Steib (in Agust 2005) to work with the Korean Catholic Community, agreed to work, as much as the time allowed, with the  Polish Catholic Mission as well.  Bishop Buechlein’s vision of bringing a Polish priest to the Diocese of Memphis at first so difficult to accomplish, was becoming a reality.  The goal was finally achieved two years ago, when the very first Polish deacon, Krzysztof Rusin, was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Memphis (June 2007) so the dream of many Polish people here in Memphis became a truth. Thank You God for all your blessings!!!

Before the Polish Catholic Mission was officially registered, the organization was run by the members of the Interim Board: Jerzy Góral , Teresa Rudnicki and  Zofia Łukasiewicz.

The official Board, elected every two years by the members, has been responsible for all organizational issues as well as non-religous activities. As a result of the first elections held in March 1990, the following members were elected to sit on the Board of the Polish Catholic Mission: Wanda Komor (President), Teresa Rudnicki (Vice President), Stefania Niewiara (Treasurer), Krystyna Zawada (Secretary), Jadwiga Miller (Member) as well as Janusz Rudnicki (Member). 

Besides its religious functions, which remain the basic activities of the Polish Mission, the organization has also served as a cultural, social, humanitarian and charity institution. PCM supported many Poles at home; it reached out to blind children, babies suffering from retinopathies, children with muscular dystrophy, and helped bring them to Memphis for treatment. The Polish community also collected donations for Wrocław (Poland) Children’s Hospital damaged by the flood, and supported new families arriving to Memphis from Poland.

Also children took an active part in sustaining the beautiful Polish traditions by participating in the Folk Dance Group, taking part in the „Jasełka” Christmas performance and learning how to decorate Easter eggs. For many years, each visit of a Polish priest in Memphis has been an excuse to get together, have fun, sing in Polish and try some Polish kiełbasa.

Today, under the shephardship of Fr. Kazimierz and Fr. Krzysztof the Polish Catholic Mission has a bright future.  Masses in the Polish language are being celebrated monthly, and a second Polish priest will be ordained this year. Two more Polish seminarians at Orchard Lake, MI are committed to the Diocese of Memphis as their future work place. We are very thankful to God and all who have helped make this happen.


Last updated: 12/07/2018