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Silesian Parishes: Nativity BVM / Cestohowa

Cestohowa

History

In 1873, a group of about forty families from Panna Maria decided to pioneer a new community five miles to the north, which they named Cestochowa, a reference to the city in Poland, where the famous icon of the Black Madonna has been preserved. Also known as Our Lady of Czestochowa, the image is revered by Polish Catholics as much as the Virgin of Guadalupe is beloved by Mexicans. Initially, many residents of the new settlement continued to attend services at Panna Maria’s Immaculate Conception Church. The priest from Panna Maria would travel to Cestochowa periodically, to minister to those who could not make the journey. They Cestochowans built a small school that also served as a chapel for these visits. When lightning damaged the sanctuary in Panna Maria in 1875, the residents of Cestochowa decided that it was time to build their own church. Land for this purpose was donated in 1877. The church was completed on February 10, 1878, under the patronage of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Parishioners who had been making the trek to Panna Maria now had a church nearer their homes. This episode was repeated a few years later, when approximately ten families from Cestochowa moved still further north, across the Wilson County line, and founded Kosciusko. When they later established their own parish, it attracted members from Cestochowa, just as Cestochowa’s church had drawn its parishioners from Panna Maria. Even so, Cestochowa’s population reached 170 families during the 1890s. At various times, the town boasted numerous business, uncluding two general stores, a cotton gin, and several blacksmith shops. Unfortunately, it had lost its bank and many other businesses by 1914. In 1936, the height of the Great Depression, the community had only 100 residents. St. Joseph’s parochial school, the first school in Cestohowa was incorporated into the Karnes County public school system in 1937. The church was remodeled in 1931, and repaired and painted again in 1973. The activities of the small community of around one hundred residents remain focused on the historic church. 

Parish News

Parish updates, tour and location information will be located in this area.

Then and Now

Opportunities for photo scanning sessions and oral histories sharing will be posted in this area.

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