First Polish church in America consecrated

September 29th, 1856

On this day in 1856, Father Leopold Moczygemba consecrated the first Polish Catholic church in the United States at Panna Maria, Texas. Father Moczygemba, a native of Silesia born in 1824, came to Texas in 1852 and began urging his fellow countrymen to leave the harsh economic conditions of their homeland and settle in Texas. In 1854 Polish immigrants had journeyed to Karnes County in South Texas and celebrated Christmas Mass with Moczygemba under a live oak tree at the future church site. They founded the community of Panna Maria, Polish for “Virgin Mary.” In addition to the church, pioneers also established St. Joseph’s School, the first Polish school in America, and new waves of immigration after 1865 led to the settlement of other Polish communities in the area such as Cestohowa, Kosciusko, and Falls City. Panna Maria remained a rural hamlet in the twentieth century but enjoyed the distinction of being the oldest permanent Polish settlement in the United States.

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First Polish church in America consecrated

September 29th, 1856

On this day in 1856, Father Leopold Moczygemba consecrated the first Polish Catholic church in the United States at Panna Maria, Texas. Father Moczygemba, a native of Silesia born in 1824, came to Texas in 1852 and began urging his fellow countrymen to leave the harsh economic conditions of their homeland and settle in Texas. In 1854 Polish immigrants had journeyed to Karnes County in South Texas and celebrated Christmas Mass with Moczygemba under a live oak tree at the future church site. They founded the community of Panna Maria, Polish for “Virgin Mary.” In addition to the church, pioneers also established St. Joseph’s School, the first Polish school in America, and new waves of immigration after 1865 led to the settlement of other Polish communities in the area such as Cestohowa, Kosciusko, and Falls City. Panna Maria remained a rural hamlet in the twentieth century but enjoyed the distinction of being the oldest permanent Polish settlement in the United States.

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Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
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  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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