On February 14, 1910, St. Valentine Parish of the Polish National Catholic Church was organized. Forty-three men met to declare their independence and form a new parish. From the first group of organizers, Francis Wydro was selected as president. The first meeting took place on St. Valentine’s Day, therefore, it was unanimously adopted by the organizing members that the Parish bear the name of that Saint – “Saint Valentine.”
Additional meetings were held frequently. During the first organizational days, the newly formed St. Valentine’s Parish was under no given Church jurisdiction, therefore, the Committee, wishing to secure this jurisdiction, called upon the Archbishop of the Philadelphia Roman Catholic Archdiocese, requesting him to consider accepting the newly-organized Parish and appoint a Polish priest. The Archbishop declined the request, and that postponed the organizing of another Polish parish in Philadelphia for a period of one year.
In the meantime, on September 20, 1911, the Rev. W. Zielonko, a former pastor of the Holy Cross Parish of the PNCC in Baltimore, MD, came to Philadelphia at the request of the newly-organized Parish. A meeting was called to convene over four hundred (400) persons. After the group was enlightened about the principles, ideals, and mission of the Polish National Catholic Church, it then unanimously decided to seek the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church, and accept the Rev. W. Zielonko as Pastor. The newly-organized group did not lose time in seeking out and purchasing land for the construction of a Church and Rectory.
On April 11, 1912, the present site on the corner of Melrose and Margaret Streets was purchased and construction of a church and rectory was begun. The original church was built for the sum of $7,200. The simple structure was dedicated to the worship of the Almighty in August 1912.
Within a few months, through the intercession of the Pastor, a 15-acre plot of land was purchased at Andalusia, Pennsylvania in the name of the Parish to be used as a cemetery. The actual deeding of this property to the Parish took place on November 14, 1918.
On March 20, 1918, the Parish sent a formal invitation to Prime Bishop Francis Hodur. Accepting the invitation, he visited St. Valentine’s Parish and celebrated a Solemn High Mass and participated in a meeting of the parish membership after the Service. The final acceptance by the Parish of the jurisdiction of the Polish National Catholic Church took place on May 4, 1921 during the pastorship of the Rev. Bronislaus Krupski, when the Parish empowered the Committee to petition the “Court of Common Pleas No. 4” at Philadelphia for a Charter of Incorporation with the final adoption of the Polish National Catholic Church’s faith, doctrine and ideals.
That which possesses all the necessary conditions of life will grow and expand in time, and St. Valentine’s Parish was no exception. With every succeeding year the membership grew larger and it became apparent that a larger Church and a Parish Hall were needed. The new buildings were com-pleted during the summer of 1927, for the sum of $82,000. The newly-constructed Church was dedicated by His Grace, Prime Bishop Francis Hodur on October 7, 1928.
Such were the humble beginnings of our parish. A common spiritual and religious need motivated the organizers of St. Valentine Parish. Immigrant men and women surmounted many obstacles and difficulties to establish and found a new parish to practice and maintain their religious and cultural customs and traditions in a new and free land. Ours is a proud heritage passed on to us from the founders of our parish through each succeeding generation.
In our renewal of spirit, let us proceed in new directions in bringing Christ to those who hunger for His word in the mission of building God’s Kingdom on earth. Let us dedicate ourselves in bringing the Polish National Catholic Church to those who seek Him in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
Let us resolve to continue, with dedication and loyalty, the labor begun nearly one-hundred years ago.