The first pastoral care of Polish people in the Bay Area started with two Jesuits: Stanislaus Kusiaki and Joseph Guidi in 1894 (at the end of 19th century). Masses in Polish language were celebrated in Oakland diocese since 1983 (90 years later) by Fr. Stanislaw Drzał from the religious order Society of Christ, and by Fr. Degner, former prisoner of the concentration camp in Germany.
Polish Pastoral Center was founded in 1986 (3 years later) thanks to efficient help of Sr. Felicia Sarati CSJ. Now, we have our religious activities in Our Lady of Immigrants Chapel in Martinez since 1988 (2 years later), and in Holy Family Church in Union City since Easter 1992 (after 4 next years). Our two centers cover East Bay area, and they are part of the systematical Polish pastoral apostolate in the Northern California, along with Polish centers in the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento, located in adjacent dioceses.
We treasure a part of the Holy Tradition of the Roman-Catholic Church, present in our national culture almost 1050 years. We solely cultivate the unique traditions of the procession on the Feast of the Corpus Christi, Easter blessing of the food, Christmas vigil supper, fast practices during all Fridays, not only in the time of Lent, devotions to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland, main patroness of Poland.
According to the last Census, there is 500 000 Poles and Americans of Polish ancestry in California. Significant percentage of this is located on our territory. We provide the first contact with Roman-Catholic Church for the newcomers. For them culture and everything here is new and strange, and only the church provides them the environment they know, and the feeling of support. We help them to pray in the only language they know and we give them the opportunity to find work, place to live and faciliate the start of the new life. We give Polish people the opportunity to pray in their mother language, because majority of them, even after several years of stay in the United States, sometimes far away from God and Church, cannot pray in English. We help people to regulate their family problems, which is possible only in native language, and sometimes this originates the process of formal regulation of matrimony. We issue weekly bulletin by paper issue and by e-mail, which goes stright to homes of the Polish families located in the whole area of the Bay of San Francisco. Every week it reminds them about God, Catholic Church, their roots and higher moral values in this world full of consumerism. By cultural events, entertaiment (as for instance picknics, balls), education, and formation of children, we atract whole families or different age groups, who often are far away from any Church: Polish or English. And thus, step by step, they are returning to their faith.
Polish Pastoral Center gives care and support for the following educational, social, and cultural organizations, which extend our religious influence, and also allows us to carry on pre-evangelisation:
-Two Polish Saturday Schools, where main part of the formation of children bases on Christian values and Polish tradition, where we have catechesis and preparation for the first communion and confirmation. We educate 80-120 children. One of these schools is recognized as the best Polish school on the West Coast, the school of John Paul II, with the tradition of 36 years.
-East Bay Polish-American Association, which prime statutory objective and purpose is “the building, and housing of a pastoral care center and its offices for religious and cultural activities.”
-Polish Scouting Association ZHP, which program bases on the values of God, honor, and Homeland (Poland & U.S)
-Polish Veterans of WW II, Post 49, for them Polish Church is a shelter, because for some of them there was not allowed to go back to Poland after II world war because of the persecution by communist regime.
-Friends of John Paul II Foundation, international organization founded to support goals set by our pope.