of the Polish Center in Yorba Linda
After World War II, many Polish immigrants from various parts of the
world migrated to Southern California. Initially they attended social
functions and religious services in
the Our Lady of the
Bright Mount Polish Parish, on Adams Blvd., in Los Angeles.
Having distanced themselves in far-away residences in Orange County and
in Long Beach, the Polish Community held their weekly services in the
Orange County churches of St. Anthony Claret and St. Justin Martyr in
Anaheim. The congregation also held weekly masses at an Anaheim funeral
chapel, and finally in Rosary High School in Fullerton.
When the Diocese of Orange became a reality, the late Bishop William
Johnson appointed Reverend Joseph A. Karp the spiritual director for the
Polish Community in Orange County. This was to satisfy the spiritual and
social needs of the Polish faithful living in the area of the Diocese of
Orange. The aims: "to keep alive in the hearts of the Polish
Faithful the rich religious and cultural heritage & traditions of
their forefathers; to preserve the Polish language among the first and
second generations and to allow full participation in the Liturgical
functions for the newly arrived into this area."
The first mass at the John Paul II Polish Center was celebrated by Fr.
Karp on January 16, 1983. Since that time the Center has truly become a
center for Polish activities such as: Polish language classes (for
beginners and advanced), bingo games, Polish Scouting, speakers and
various club meetings.
One of the enduring traditions of the Polish Community in Orange County
is the continuation of an old Polish custom of celebrating the harvest
of the crops (Dozynki) in the autumn months. The
Harvest Festival in Yorba Linda begins with a procession wherein the
field workers present “gifts of the earth” to the Lord and Lady of
the manor following the successful harvest. After the procession, the
Polish folk dance groups, and singing groups perform. Delicious
ethnic food is then enjoyed by all. On October 19, 1986, the John Paul
II Polish Center dedicated a plaque in memory of the Polish martyr of
faith, Father Jerzy Popieluszko. The Bell Tower was erected as a symbol
of unity of this community calling the members to the worship of
Almighty God. The bells (three bells) were cast in Poland in 1987. On
November 26, 1989, the Feast of Christ the King, the bell tower was