The History of Saint Hilary.
The main Alter and Both Side Alters circa 1944.
The Polish people of Washington, Pa longed for a church and priest of their own. On June 16, 1907, the
Polish people in the area met
in the home of Stanley Kozlowski for the purpose of forming “The Saint Michael Archangel Society.” This small group of people undertook the task
of buying land for a church, rectory and school. On May 29, 1913, the Polish Roman Catholic Congregation purchased land in Canton Township and
erected a new church – Saint Michael the Archangel.” Due to some controversy with the Diocese of Pittsburgh over the property, the congregation
split into two (2) groups, Roman Catholics and Polish National Catholics. In May 1914, the Polish National Catholic Congregation renamed
Saint Michael the Archangel to the Holy Trinity Polish National Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholics were still without a church to call her
In July 1919, the
Pittsburgh Diocese granted permission to this small
group of Roman Catholics to organize a new parish that would be named Saint Hilary. Reverend Victor Majka was assigned and services
were temporarily conducted in a rented room. This building was located on the corner of Allison and McAdam Avenues. In a short time,
land was purchased for $1,000.00 on Henderson Avenue where the church would eventually be built. On October 23, 1919,
Reverend Anthony Spiewak was appointed pastor of Saint Hilary. The parishioners rented a home at 1025 Jefferson Ave.
that served as the first rectory. In November, 1919, a house was purchased on Henderson Avenue.This was used as the rectory until,
March 25, 1958 when it was destroyed by fire. On October 4, 1920, the building of the new church had begun.
The materials and workers were supplied by
the parish. Father Spiewak and Anthony Pyzdrowski, the contractor, saw to it
the new church was built according to specifications. Dedication of the cornerstone for the new Saint Hilary Church took place on
December 12, 1920. The blessing ceremonies were conducted by Bishop Regis Canevin of Pittsburgh. The completed church was dedicated on
September 5, 1921, by Hugh C. Boyle,Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese. The community of Saint Hilary continued to grow. On November 30, 1936,
Reverend Anthony Spiewak died of pneumonia at the age of 49. The newly ordained Reverend Stanley J. Zolnierzak was appointed
“Vicar Econome” of Saint Hilary. Father Zolnierzak was replaced by Reverend Andrew J. Zapora on February 1, 1937. Under the direction
of Father Zapora, the membership more than tripled, the debt was paid and the school was built. In 1947, the parish had grown to the extent
that the Diocese decided to assign Reverend Daniel Szczygiel as the first permanent assistant pastor. He was followed by Reverend Joseph
Kolozczyk (1950); Reverend Joseph Ostrowski (1953); and Reverend Joseph Cvelbar (1959). In 1954, Saint Hilary became a territorial parish. Boundaries
were set up between Saint Hilary and Immaculate Conception. On March 25, 1958, a fire broke out at the rectory. Despite the efforts of Father Cvelbar
and some bystanders, Father Zapora died. Father Stanley Zolnierzak was once again appointed pastor of Saint Hilary Parish.
Father Stanley continued
with the building program. A new convent for the Sisters of Saint Joseph was
dedicated on December 6, 1959.
Ground was broken for the new church on March 13, 1966. Fourteen months later, on May 30, 1967, Bishop John J. Wright of Pittsburgh
dedicated and blessed the new Saint Hilary Church. The church population was now at 820 families. The completion of the new church
brought to a close the building program at Saint Hilary, encompassing church, school, convent, rectory and parking facilities.
Father Stanley Zolnierzak retired in June, 1986. Reverend Thomas D. O’Neil was appointed the
new pastor of Saint Hilary Church.
Under the direction of Father O’Neil, many improvements to the buildings and grounds began. The remaking of the convent into a rectory,
which had begun under Father Stanley was now completed. More property was purchased and additional parking was added. Many
improvements were made in the school and the school hall. A storage facility and garage were built. Landscaping added the finishing touches.
Taking full advantage of the improved facilities, the parish implemented new social activities. In the mid 1990’s a complete renovation of the
church’s interior began. During the next few years, walls, pews, statues and the sanctuary were totally redone. In addition, the Reconciliation
room was modernized and a much needed cry room was built. The new millennium brought with it the dedication of the newly renovated
Father Zapora Hall in 2000 and our Holy Family Shrine dedicated to Father Stanley Zolnierzak in 2002. Through the years from 1919 to the
present, Saint Hilary Church has made great strides. The dedicated pastors and parishioners have much to be proud of. The dream conceived
many years ago has now become a reality. Saint Hilary Parish since 1919
succeeding Reverend Joseph Cvelbar were:
1919 - 2012