History of Holy Cross Parish and Pope John Paul II School Holy Cross School...
In the year 1928, a new Polish parish was established on Farmington Avenue in the City of New Britain, Connecticut under the leadership of Rev. Stefan Bartkowski. The Most Rev. Maurice F. McAuliffe, Bishop of Hartford, dedicated Holy Cross Church on July 1, 1928. That same year, eight Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of St. Francis were asked to teach the Polish language and religion to the children of the newly founded parish after school hours. In the first two years 600 pupils enrolled. The efforts of the Sisters and the support of the Pastor laid the foundation for the present day parish school.
In 1946, with the weight of the church mortgage lifted and the continued generosity of the Holy Cross parishioners, property opposite the church was purchased to build a parish school and convent. Construction of the school began on July 221, 1954. When completed Father Benedict Sutula was selected as the first Principal of Holy Cross School.
It became apparent very quickly that due to the rapid growth of the school expansion was necessary. In 1961 the Right Reverend John J. Hackett, Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford, dedicated the new addition, which housed 20 classrooms, a music room, a cafeteria/ kitchen, a spare hall, gymnasium and a playground. Enrollment continued its upward surge in the early 1960's reaching a peak of 790 students in 1965. Vocations to the religious and priestly life were another source of parish pride during these years.
Under the leadership of Father Zigford Kriss, Sister Mary Anastasia, Father William Przbylo, Sister Mary Christella, and Sister Marlene Hostetter, the school continued to flourish in spite of the frequent questioning by Catholic critics who cited rising costs and the financial burden incurred. According to Monsignor John P. Wodarski, a strong advocate of Catholic education, it was a matter of "paying for the ideal". In 1971, when a severe financial crisis prompted the Hartford Archdiocese to request the closing of four classes at Holy Cross school, the Parish Council voted to continue operating the school at all grade levels, and established a Kindergarten that has endured to this very day.
Between the years 1980 - 1990, Holy Cross flourished as a Kindergarten - Grade 8 elementary school. The institution grew technologically through the Write-to-Read Program and the establishment of a computer laboratory. The library was transferred to a larger room and enhanced with a library center.
The Athletic Program was adjusted to meet the needs of a growing population and presently incorporates Grades 3 - 8 of both girls and boys basketball teams.
The Student Council, under the leadership of Sister Barbara Wanat was re-established in 1980 and became a viable channel for student input and action. It developed individual and communal leadership, and led to many local service projects to God's people in hospitals, convalescent homes, out-reach programs and home missions.
In 1990, a Pre-Kindergarten was established to stabilize a dwindling enrollment caused by the exodus of families to the suburbs. The Pre-Kindergarten Program has been successful in its own right, and completes the educational program by educating students ages three through thirteen.
Ever mindful of the needs of its constituents, the Extended Day Program was introduced in 1993 and remains operative today. Teachers, parents and alumni provide a wide variety of activities for children from Kindergarten through Grade Six.
... And Now, Pope John Paul II School
In 2006 the Hartford Archdiocese, due to dwindling enrollment in New Britain's parochial schools, merged the alumni, staff and students from St. Francis School, St. Joseph School and Holy Cross School into a newly named Pope John Paul II School in the former Holy Cross School building.
Continuing the traditions of Holy Cross School and working very closely with the Pastors, Priests, and Parish Guilds of Holy Cross Parish, Pope John Paul II School focuses on the needs of our community of students, parents, teachers and parish members, ever mindful of our connection to our Patron - Pope John Paul II.
The continuing financial commitment to Catholic education has not been easy for Holy Cross Parish. Subsidizing the parish school has become a major challenge yet the school's reputation for excellence was affirmed by four successful accreditations under the direction of The New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Archdiocese of Hartford.
Pope John Paul II School offers classes from Pre-Kindergarten all the way through Middle School. We are very proud of continuing to show that on average, all students in grades 3 through 7 are scoring well above the national average in reading, math, language arts, social studies and science in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). With a 46 percent membership in the Mother Teresa Chapter of the Junior Honor Society, special focus is placed on the academic achievements of the students and the role of Catholic Schools as a part of the educational fabric.
As Monsignor John P. Wodarski, a staunch supporter of Catholic education at Holy Cross School during his years as pastor stated so long ago, "We are to bring Jesus to youth and youth to Jesus."
Today, Father Dariusz Gosciniak, current Pastor of Holy Cross Parish, continues to support our school with love, gentle guidance, and sustained financial commitments. His presence is felt on a daily basis, through Masses said on behalf of the school, membership on the School Board, and his attendance at so many school displays and events. Many of Holy Cross Parish's community are also members of the Pope John Paul II School community.
About Our Patron - Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II was one of the most influential and popular figures of the 20th century. The first non-Italian pope in over 400 years, Pope John Paul II appealed to both the people of the Church and the world.
Karol Wojtyla was elected the 263rd Successor of St. Peter, and took the name of John Paul II. The nickname of the “Pilgrim Pope” emerged early on in his papacy as he began to travel extensively, spreading his message to the world. He traveled to over 100 countries in an effort to be present to the people of the Church.
On September 18, 1969 we were proud to have Cardinal Wojtyla visit Holy Cross Parish and school. In various spots throughout the school and church, plaques mark the spot where Cardinal Wojtyla spoke to the parishioners and students. The charisma he displayed as a young actor won people over and widened his appeal. He spoke out against Communism and its abuse of human rights, expressed the need and obligation of affluent countries to aid other nations, and called for an end to global conflict. He emphasized the “universal call to holiness”, promoted the Church’s role in the modern world, and sought to establish common ground with leaders of other religions. Above all, Pope John Paul II sought to evangelize the world.
Pope John Paul II had a special relationship with children and young people, often calling them the future of the Church. In Poland as a young priest, he often hiked and took trips to the mountains with children in his parish. As Pope, he established World Youth Day in 1984 to bring young people from all over the world to celebrate their faith with each other.
Pope John Paul II saw a great potential in the new generation and he was very keen in instructing them to follow Christ.