Saint Hedwig's Parish was formally established at third and Wallace Streets in 1911 by his Excellency, The Most Rev. John E. Fitzmaurice, Bishop of Erie. Prior to this time, Catholics dwelling on the banks of Presque Isle Bay, East of Parade Street, worshipped at St. Stanislaus, St. Mary's or St. Patrick's church.
In 1909, it was quite evident that this continually growing community was in need of its own church. Father Andrew Ignasiak, with a chosen committee, prepared for the foundation of St. Hedwig's Parish, to be situated on the southeast corner of Third and Wallace Streets, the property extending south about 160 feet and East about 290 feet.
The property on which St. Hedwig's buildings stand originally belonged to Elizabeth F. Denny. After her death it was willed to her daugther, Amelia Melisina Brereton, from whom, on October 1, 1909, one part of the estate was purchased for the construction of the church.
The two story structure was designed by Paul Rys. On the second floor in the 300 seat church the parishioners would offer their praises and sacrifices to their God; on the first floor of the two room school, the children would learn the many truths about their God.
On May 3, 1911, Father Francis Robaczewski was called from Tyler, PA, a small mining town where he had built the present parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka, to become the first pastor of the newly-founded parish of St. Hedwig in Erie. He offered the first Solemn High Mass in the new church on May 11, 1911. One month later, July 4, Bishop Fitzmaurice visited the new church and dedicated it to God.
Besides the two classrooms, the first floor served as the pastor's residence until 1913. In 1913 Father moved into the newly constructed convent which would serve as a rectory until 1929. In 1911 and 1912, the teaching Felician Sisters at St. Hedwig's lived at St. Stanislaus convent. In 1913 the Sisters made their first home where once the pastor dwelt, on the first floor of the school-church building. As the school expanded to eight classrooms, the teaching staff increased, the fourth street frame convent became crowded and the sisters moved into the third street convent occupied by the pastor and assistant.
History of St. Hedwig's Quick Facts:
* Parishioners came together with Father Robaczewski during the tough economic times of the Great Depression and began the building of the superstructure. Cobblestone was obtained from the city of Erie and the skilled laborers came together and the new church was finished in 1934.
* On Februrary 21, 1948 - Monsignor suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and passed away. His remains were laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery.
* Father Louis Kozlowski was appointed pastor at St. Hedwig's in November 1959 and continued the fund raising program with the aid of the School Building Committee. Ground was broken on September 25, 1960 and March 14 marked the final plans drawn by the architectural Firm. On May 8, the school children heartily enjoyed the demolition of the wooden eight room school; the new school opened its doors in September 1961.
* The Second Vatican Council brought several changes to St. Hedwig Parish, for the first time, the priest said the Mass in English and faced the people. The Mass was said on a new portable altar.
* Priests throughout the years:
Father Thaddeus Kondzielski - 1970 new resident priest
Msgr. Joseph Wardanski - 1986 appointed Pastor
Msgr. John Dollinger - 1987 appointed Pastor
Father William Sutherland- Co-pastor since 1992; Pastor at St. Hedwig & St. Patrick's 1998 - 2009
Father Prez, Father Regis Meeniharn, Father John Santor
Msgr. Henry Kreigel - Pastor 2009 - Present
Saint Hedwig Firsts:
First Baptism: May 19, 1911 ~ Jadwiga Czartoryski
First Communion Class: June 21, 1912
First Confirmation Class: May 16, 1915
First Marriage: July 3, 1911 ~ John to Katarzyna Ingator
First Funeral: July 6, 1911 ~ Genowefa Podurgiel