Polish Parishioners Stay Strong after Priest Child Porn Charges
By Christine McConville
August 5, 2012
|SAD TO SEE: JoAnne Gird, 73, talks about the scandal that racked her home parish, Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Don’t worry about us, a proud member of Boston’s Polish community said yesterday in the wake of the disturbing news that a Catholic priest who served the tight-knit community is facing child pornography possession charges.
“We’re tough and we’ll survive,” said Artur Marek, 42, a Dorchester carpenter whose young children are involved in activities at Our Lady of Czestochowa in South Boston. “It may sound like a paradox, but after something like this, we’ll come out stronger.”
The Rev. Andrzej “Andrew” Urbaniak, 41, a priest at Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Catholic parish that has served Boston’s Polish community since the late 1800s, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of possession of child pornography and dissemination of images of a nude child.
The Archdiocese of Boston has placed Urbaniak, a native of Poland, on leave.
Marek was one of about 40 Polish Americans who met yesterday to discuss how the community can move past this black mark.
“There are lots of good things happening in the community, and people need to know that,” said Marcin Bolec, editor of The White Eagle, the Polish community’s local newspaper, and an organizer of yesterday’s meeting.
The charges against Urbaniak have rocked many of the parish faithful.
“I’m hoping it’s a big mistake,” said a tearful JoAnne Gird, 73, a Tewksbury retiree who travels each week to Our Lady of Czestochowa, where she was baptized and married, for Saturday afternoon Mass. “He’s so pleasant and so polite.”
It’s also raised fears among some community members that a new generation of Polish Americans will turn their backs on the Polish Triangle, where as many as 3,000 people of Polish descent travel each week to pray, shop, socialize and study.
“We are doing these things, so our children can remember they are of Polish blood,” said Margaret Tutko, a theater director, who vowed that she wouldn’t let concerns about Urbaniak weaken her community. “We’re still here and we’re not planning on going anywhere.”