Keeping the faith
Holy Cross continues to celebrate mass despite recent vandalism
By Kimberly A. Michalak
For almost 12 years, Holy Cross Polish National Catholic Church has called 3690 Armstrong Road in Camillus home. Previously the church was on Geddes Street, which some believed was in a "not-so-good" neighborhood. Although, apparently moving to the suburbs does not place even a church out of harm's way.
The church was recently damaged by a fire, which according to Camillus police began in the back of the building and appeared to have been intentionally set. The fire spread up the side of the building, through the wall into the kitchen and toward the rafters and roof.
For years the church has hosted breakfasts, lunches and other events in order to raise money to pay off the mortgage on the building. This goal was finally accomplished in 2006. Now, just months later, the building has been damaged.
Despite the fire, Father Walter Madej has expansion on his mind.
"By the end of the year, we hope to expand the building to include a parish hall, which would be able to accommodate 150 people." Madej said. "We pray that this will be accomplished."
The addition would allow the church to host more community events, so that people living in and around the area could enjoy Polish traditions.
"We want people to come and enjoy pierogies, songs, kielbasa and other Polish traditions." Madej said. "Sharing these traditions helps make America stronger."
Madej, who came from Poland 31 years ago, knows first hand how important it is to keep traditions from the "old country" alive, as well as how much of a shortage of Polish priests there are in the U.S.
"I came for a visit in 1976 and saw that there was a shortage of Polish priests, so I spoke to my bishop and he granted me permission to come and stay here," Madej said. "This is my country and my home now."