Chapel’s reason for a song and dance
POLISH immigrants who set up a Catholic chapel in Bury after fleeing their war-torn homeland have celeb- rated the building’s 20th anniversary.
Our Lady Queen of Poland chapel in Back East Street was consecrated in 1993 — but there has been a Polish congregation in Bury for more than 60 years.
The chapel’s 20 years were commem- orated with dinner, traditional dancing and a musical performance for parishioners.
Parish priest Father Ryszard Zalewski took mass and there was a special visit by Lukasz Lutostanski, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Manchester.
Bury’s Polish congregation was founded in 1947, with parishioners who arrived in the UK initially using Bury Convent Grammar School’s chapel before it became Holy Cross College.
Later they met in an upstairs room of the Polish Social Centre in Back East Street before moving into their own building next door 20 years ago.
Maria Krupa, aged 72, of Grantham Drive, was six years old when she moved to Bury and so was one of the youngest members of the church’s original congregation.
Her husband Czeslaw, aged 79, is chairman of the chapel, which still provides Bury’s close-knit Polish community with a meeting point today.
Maria said: “There has been a Polish parish in Bury since 1947 as after the Second World War the Polish soldiers who fought and their families were able to come and live in the UK. We used to have a Polish mass at Bury Convent Grammar School every Sunday, but when that became Holy Cross College the sisters sold the chapel and that building is now the college’s music room.
“We moved to the Polish Social Centre, itself purchased in 1961, but there was not enough space so we moved again. We wanted our own place because it was easier than going to English churches asking them to be able to use their space.
“For bigger celeb-rations and ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and christ-enings we use St Marie’s Church in Bury — that is where my children got married.”
The chapel, which has a congregation of 150 but can accommodate 300 people, holds Catholic services in Polish and is one of 100 Polish parishes in England.
About 50 members of the original cong-regation still attend, including two or three of the Polish soldiers who fought in the Second World War, one of whom is 91.
Maria, whose family were forced to leave Poland in 1941 when she was just eight months old, added: “We were displaced and could not go back to where we lived after the war.
“The chapel has always been a very important focal point for the Polish community in Bury and we hope it will long continue to be so.
“Now the younger ones are able to come over and live in the UK we hope our children and younger members of the congregation will take over and keep the chapel running.”
Comments are closed on this article.