St. John's Cantius R. C. Church
East New York

Brooklyn Standard Union
July 1910

	  The growth of Brooklyn's population in recent years of foreign speaking 
people who are settling in the borough. In the last decade particularly the 
influx of Italians, Russian Jews, Slavs and Poles has far exceeded that of 
previous years. Little communities of various nationalities have sprung up in 
every section of the city with mushroom rapidity and in spite of the tendency 
to colonize these new subjects of Uncle Sam are rapidly assimilating American 
ways and customs. Perhaps the most progressive of all the newcomers in this 
regard are the Poles. They have invaded the borough in such numbers in the 
last ten yeaars that their influence is now being felt in almost every walk 
of life. First to feel the effect of the presence of these newcomers was the 
Catholic Church and in 1896 the Rt. Rev. Bishop Charles E. McDONNELL decided 
that the best way to look after them was to establish separate houses of 
worship. In South Brooklyn and Greenpoint the colonies were unusually large 
and in l896 a Polish church was established in both sections. Previous to 
that time there was but one Polish Catholic church in Broooklyn - St. 
Casimir's on Greene avenue.

       Both of the new churches, St. Stanislaus Kostka, in Greenpoint, and 
Our Lady of Czenstochova, in South Brooklyn, flourished from the beginning, 
and in the course of the next five years the influx of Poles was so great 
that the Bishop decided to establish another parish in East New York, which 
would also embrace the territory including Canarsie, Woodhaven and 
Brownsville. This undertaking, begun in a little mission at Pitkin avenue and 
Wyona street in 1892, bore fruit from the start and has culminated in the 
present Church of St. John's Cantius, New Jersey and Blake avenues, 
recognized to-day as one of the most promising of the Polish churches in the 
diocese  of Brooklyn. The present high standing of the institution is largely 
due to the arduous labor of the present pastor, the Rev. Thomas MISICKI, 
D.D., who founded the parish.

       St. John's Cantius Church has had a fight for existence which has 
seldom been paralleled in the wide range of the history of church growth in 
Brooklyn, but in spite of that fact, the church has property valued at 
$60,000, on which there is a debt of but $21,000, a remarkable record when 
the modest means of the people who constitute the congregation is taken into 
account. The property consists of the splendid plot of ground which has a 
frontage of 150 feet on New Jersey avenue, 150 feet on Vermont avenue and 200 
feet on Blake avenue. On this strip is the handsome Romanesque edifice, the 
basement of which is utilized as a school for the proper religious 
educational training of the children of the congregation. There is also a 
brick pastoral residence at 477 New Jersey avenue and a few doors down the 
convent of the Sisters of Nazareth, who guide the destinies of the children 
in the school.

       When Father MISICKI established the parish the section of East New 
York in which the church is located was hardly more than a wide stretch of 
farmland. Houses were few and far apart, but there was every indication that 
the district would soon experience a building boom. It did, but not in the 
way that Father MISICKI anticipated. In the eight years in which he has been 
the spiritual director of the Polish Catholics of the district Father MISICKI 
has seen upwards of  2,000 dwellings erected, but more than three-quarters of 
them are tenanted by families of a contrary religious faith. The fact remains 
that most of the settlers are Hebrews has made it impossible for more than a 
few Christian churches to prosper. More than a dozen have given up the 
sturggle in the last few years and moved to more favorable localities. The 
few that have remained in the field are barely holding their own, and for the 
most part draw their congregations from outside of their parish limits.

       There are other disadvantages. Father MISICKI's people for the most 
part are a laboring class who depend largely on factory work for a livlihood. 
There are very few factories in the section, and for that reason the members 
of the congregation are loath to settle in the vicinity of the church. As a 
result, few live within the parish limits, so that it is necessary for many 
to journey long distances to services. In inclement weather this makes a 
great difference in the attendance. In spite of conditions so discouraging, 
Father MISICKI has managed to more than hold his own, and so far the church 
has never had a losing year. The congregation which consisted of but a little 
more than 100 souls at the start, has steadily increased, until at the 
present time there are about 200 families, or a little less than 2,000 souls.

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