Bishop Edward M. Grosz, auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination this month. In honor of Bishop Grosz, we are celebrating him all week with a series of stories about his ministry prior to his anniversary Mass Sunday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral. All are welcome.
Throughout his time as a priest and bishop of the diocese, Bishop Edward M. Grosz has always stayed true to his Polish heritage and helped people in the traditionally Polish areas of Buffalo's East Side. Father Thaddeus N. Bocianowski, current pastor of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish in Buffalo, known as the Mother Church of Polonia, recalled how Bishop Grosz served Polish-speaking parishioners during his time as the parish pastor from 2003 to 2009.
Father Bocianowski, who was born in Poland, said he and Bishop Grosz were both ordained as priests on the same weekend, albeit in different countries. Bishop Grosz was ordained May 29, 1971 in Buffalo, while Father Bocianowski was ordained May 30, 1971 in Czestochowa, Poland. Even so, Father Bocianowski said he considers Bishop Grosz to be "like (his) classmate," since they are similar in age.
"He is a very open man. He is very friendly, and he is from Black Rock, from a very Polish area, and he worked very hard with the Felician sisters," said Father Bocianowski. "My feelings about him, as a priest and a good friend, are very positive. I like him when he's celebrating Masses."
Father Bocianowski became pastor in December 2009, after Bishop Grosz received a new assignment serving in the chancery of the Catholic Center in downtown Buffalo, where he remains today. Bishop Grosz began serving at St. Stanislaus after the parish's previous pastor, Msgr. John R. Gabalski, died on Oct. 9, 2003. Bishop Grosz was the sixth pastor in the history of the oldest Polish parish in the Buffalo Diocese, which Father Jan Pitass, a Polish priest and St. Stanislaus' pastor for 40 years, founded in 1873.
"(Bishop Grosz) changed a lot in this church. He loved this church because this was the first church and parish for the Polish-speaking people," Father Bocianowski said. "He changed inside of the church, decorated the church and around areas like the school and convent. He wanted to change the inside of the church buildings, and his love was for the church. I try to keep this church very nicely decorated. We have many events here. The bishop is always asking to come here to celebrate these events."
St. Stanislaus is considered the mother church of East Buffalo's Polonia District, and even offers Polish-language Masses on Sundays. Father Bocianowski said Bishop Grosz is considered a man who "wants to be a bishop of the people," like one of his parishioners. He also called him a very warm person who was frequently noticed by parishioners of St. Stanislaus when he helped keep the parish grounds in order.
"He was here in this area, noticed when he was picking up the garbage, cleaning the area around (the church), you know. People told me he would see things like paper around the church," Father Bocianowski remembered. "He was a special person for the people and for me, because he'd been here six years in the East Side of Buffalo. Still, parishioners love him very much and have many connections with him."
According to Father Bocianowski, Bishop Grosz has established himself as a special person in the Polish community of the Diocese of Buffalo, stressing that since he served in several parishes including St. Stanislaus, many people know him because he took the time to get to know his parishioners.
"I admire everything he had done in this parish. It's not easy to change everything, but he did it, and I am very thankful to him for everything he has done for this parish," he said.