Societas

Divini

Salvatoris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

 

 

    F

inding the religious and political climate unbearable in their native state of Silesia, Poland in the mid 1800’s, a number of families decided to follow in the footsteps of Fr. Leopold Moczygemba by immigrating to Texas. While the majority of them went to Panna Maria, thirteen families decided to settle in the area called Martinez, (now St. Hedwig), in 1855.  These families included: Adam and Mariana Pierdola, Martin and Frances Pierdola, Joseph Mihalski, Florentine Tudyk, Mikolaj and Franciszka Tudyk, Jacob Zaiontz, Thomas Krawietz, Anton Kosub, Frank Kosub, Martin Cibis, Valentine and Frances Aniol, Paul and Franciszka Kaczmarek, and Walter and Cecelia Stanush.  Among their neighbors, these first Polish settlers were especially fortunate to have encountered Joseph N. Dorstin, a Polish immigrant who was instrumental in helping them to overcome some of the hardships. He assisted them with land transaction and deed recording. Although the language barriers complicated the settling process, they didn’t hesitate in getting log homes with thatched roofs built and crops planted. 

    B

y 1857, these families had been joined by others from Poland. After creating shelter for their families, they built a mission church from logs on the land of Ludwig Zaiontz, less than a mile northwest of the present church.  It was dedicated to the Blessed Mother under the title of her Annunciation.  On December 2, 1857, the first baptism, that of Francis Pierdola, was administered and recorded by Father J. Przysiecki.  Previous baptisms were recorded at St. Mary’s and San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio. 

    T

he community continued to grow and the name of the town was changed from “Martinez” to Saint Hedwig  in honor of the Patroness of Silesia in Poland. Reverend Felix Zwiardowski, a Resurrectionist  was the first, in 1867, to record St. Hedwig as the name for the parish.  This energetic and brilliant newly ordained priest was truly the champion of St. Hedwig’s development and growth. On April 25, 1868, under his leadership, the cornerstone was set for the new/present/church,  which was built on the property donated by Martin Pierdola, Joseph Mihalski, Anton Tudyk and Thomas Krawitz.  The talents, efforts and time of every family were utilized in hauling stones in horse-drawn wagons from a quarry in Blanco in constructing the 76’ long, 30’ wide, and 30’ high building, and in feeding the crew of workers.  Shortly after the completion of the church, the cemetery was consecrated. 

    I

n 1874, construction was completed on a school to serve the children of the area. The Immaculate Conception Sisters, (the Blue Nuns),  Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, and Felician Sisters taught the classes. By 1880, the community served a large  area with businesses, a justice of the peace court, a deputy sheriff, a post office, and a new road to San Antonio.  Its identity was well established. The cornerstone of St. Hedwig’s community life was their faith and their parish which they placed under the protection of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The school was closed in 1968. The building is still used as classrooms for CCD students. 

    B

y 1900, the parish had increased to 200 families.  To accommodate the growth, the church was enlarged to 45’ wide and 124’ in length.  In 1910, the steeple was added.  The bells that still ring the Angelus hours today were “sponsored” by various families:  Strzelczyk, Zymunt, Kaczmarek,and Kalka.  By 1914, there were 1,448 Catholics recorded. A last addition was made in 1924 when the church was enlarged to accommodate the 250 families by adding the  two sacristies and a room behind the sanctuary that was a library which is being used now as a chapel of the Divine Mercy Group.