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They rest in peace… St. Michael’s Cemetery

The idea of cemetery germinated from the very beginning of the organization of St. Michael’s the Archangel parish in Derby, Connecticut. But it did not take fruit until 1939 when the large parcel of lawn among forest, half way between Derby and Ansonia was blessed and initiated as burial place for many Polish immigrants living in New Haven county. as well as thirty-five Vincentian priests and brothers from New England Province. All pastors and superior, most vicars can be found interred in this picturesque  land.

The parish in Derby for Polish emigrants was formed after years of struggling for the church where Poles could pray and sing in their native language. The first Polish immigrations came to this important seaport in Connecticut in 1875 either from the mills and coal mines of Pennsylvania or directly from Southern Poland, because of the availability of labor. In the nearby Ansonia, Poles came mostly from Vilnius area. The Association of St. Michael the Archangel was established on New Year’s Day, 1896 for the purpose of forming the new parish. A first people attended Masses at St. Mary’s church regularly. However, after 1904, when Vincentians took over St. Stanislaus Parish in New Haven, CT they came to hear confessions in Derby on Saturdays and to have a Mass for Poles with a sermon in Polish on Sundays. On October 18, 1905 the parish of St. Michael the Archangel was incorporated. Rev. Stanislaus Konieczny CM was designated to be first pastor.

In 1938 Rev. Joseph Swaltek CM was appointed the pastor of St. Michael’s and started with beautifying the front of the church. In 1939 he went to Poland to celebrate his 25th priesthood anniversary. Unfortunately, WWII has broken up on September 1, 1939. After different complications and being denied from military service as chaplain Fr. Swaltek fled with populace and finally returned to the United States. During his absence, the parish committee looked for a cemetery site. On July 8, 1939, 65 acres were procured on “Silver Hill” for the amount of $5,250. It turned out that the property lay in a residential area but that difficulty was cleared in time. On November 24, 1939 the cemetery was blessed and the hard task of blasting and removing rocks began.

In addition to the parishioners, much physical labor was donated by the parish priests themselves. One of them was parochial vicar Rev. Julian Pustelnik CM who loved physical work in which he was very successful. Contributing in organization of the cemetery he never realized he would be one of the first to be buried there. When Fr. Casimir Kiczuk CM was vicar (during pastorate of Fr. Michael Gryglak CM and second pastorate of Fr. Swaltek) the landscaping of the necropolis was largely attributed to him. During pastorate of Fr. Henry Czekala CM (1979-1988) the roads in the cemetery were repaired.

St. Michael’s Cemetery is at Silver Hill Road, next to Osborndale State Park. It can be reached from Gen. Samuel Jasilka Hwy. Cemetery’s office is at St. Michael’s Parish. (View directions on the map). Vincentians’ Plot is in the oval at the end of entrance driveway. There two rows of graves there, with stone plaques, ca. 20″ by 8″ each.  (view it on the map)

Confreres buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery:

Bro. Francis ANDRZEJEWSKI CM (†2001)
Rev. Stanislaus BLACHUTA CM (†1976)
Bro. Stanislaus CIEPLAK CM (†1976)
Rev. Martin CYMBROWSKI CM (†2001)
Rev. Joseph CZAPLA CM (†1962)
Bro. Aurelius DOBROGOWSKI CM (†1963)
Bro. Peter DZERMEJKO CM (†1982)
Rev. Edward P. GICEWICZ CM (†2009)
Bro. Richard GLINSKI CM (†2003)
Rev. George GLOGOWSKI CM (†1920)
Rev. Wilhelm GOLLI CM (†1994)
Rev. Michael GRYGLAK CM (†1976)
Rev. John JANKOWSKI CM (†1996)
Rev. Stephen MINKIEL CM (†2007)
Rev. Gothard KRZYSTECZKO CM (†1990)
Rev. Paul KURTYKA CM (†1986)
Rev. Casimir KWIATKOWSKI CM (†1969)
Rev. Joseph LUKASZCZYK CM (†1966)
Rev. Anthony MAZURKIEWICZ CM (†1963)
Rev. James MIELECHOWSKI CM (†1996)
Rev. Peter OLSZOWKA CM (†1975)
Rev. Walenty PIECZKA CM (†2007)
Rev. Joseph PIORKOWSKI CM (†1969)
Rev. Julian PUSTELNIK CM (†1940)
Rev. Michael SADOWSKI CM (†1965)
Rev. Joseph SWALTEK CM (†1953)
Rev. Charles SZYMANSKI CM (†1992)
Rev. Eugene SZYSZKA CM (†1994)
Rev. Ronald A. WIKTOR CM (†2010)
Rev. Stanislaus WLODARCZYK CM (†1946)
Rev. Carl WOJCIECHOWSKI CM (†1972)
Rev. Henry WOJTKIEWICZ CM (†2004)
Bro. Henry ZIOLKOWSKI CM (†1997)

To read more about other graveyards of the Vincentian community in New England go to these stories:
« They Rest In Peace… Calvary Cemetery »
« Where Our Departed Confreres Rest In Peace »
« Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord… »

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