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Stephen Kaminski Edit Profile


Stephen Kaminsk was the bishop of an independent Christian diocese known as the Polish Independent Catholic Church of America.


Kaminski, Stephen was born on December 26, 1859 in Poland. Son of John and Salome (Mackievicz) Kaminski.


Graduate at Pelplin.


Vilatte ordained Kaminski a priest in Cleveland on 24 August 1894.

In the same year, at a congress of representatives of the national parish was elected bishop of Polish Independent Catholic Church also known as Polish Catholic Church in North America.

When Vilatte visited Cleveland, Ohio, to dedicate Fr. Anton Francis Kolaszewski original Immaculate Heart of Mary Church building and cemetery on August 18, 1894, he ordained Kaminski. The dedication ceremonies were marred by a riot, caused by protesters in the streets, that included a stabbing and shooting.

After ordination, Kaminski took up pastoral activity in independent Polish-American parishes.

In 1895 Kaminski and a faction of his adherents occupied the Polish parish church of St. Paul, a Roman Catholic church of the Diocese of Omaha in South Omaha, Nebraska, where he conducted devotion "in his own way". It is unclear how this occupation of the church happened, or for how long it lasted, but on the morning of March 11, 1895, while Kaminski celebrated Mass in the church, 40 Polish men gathered at the church and eight of them then entered and called on Kaminski to give them the keys to the church. He refused and, standing before the altar and holding revolvers in both hands with six more revolvers and two carbines on the altar, without saying anything he started shooting. He shot Joseph Dargaszewski through his right knee and then shot at the altar to create the impression that he had also been shot at. Later that month, on March 31, 1895, calling him "a Polish nationalist who posed as a priest", Elia W. Peattie wrote, in the Omaha World-Herald: "Kaminski barricaded himself in the sanctuary and used firearms to retain control, wounding Xavier Dargaczewski and Frank Kraycki." Peattie quoted in her article: "The priest, he say: 'I never leave this town till I see the bare bones of this church!' And he is seein' 'em!" It was rumored he started the fire that burned the church, at the end of that month, to a pile of rubble and ashes; Kaminski's faction damaged fire hydrants so there was no way to extinguish the fire. Kaminski was arrested. From Omaha he went to Freeland, Pennsylvania, where he stayed only a few months because he could not obtain any adherents among the local independent division; from Freeland he went to New Britain, Connecticut. According to Kruszka, the 1895 organization of a Roman Catholic parish in New Britain caused a four-month dispute over the location of its church. The parishioners were scattered throughout the town and wanted to have the church nearby. Two factions formed, at opposite ends of the city. The Roman Catholic priest could not reconcile their differences. One faction purchased property for the new Roman Catholic church; the other faction also purchased property and obtained Kaminski for their church. After a replacement Roman Catholic priest was assigned to the Roman Catholic parish, the dispute was settled and Kaminski was dismissed by the disbanded faction. Finally, from New Britain he went to Buffalo, New York, in 1896.

Kruszka described the Buffalo situation as being the same that took place in Omaha. He wrote that, in June 1894, Apolinary Karwowski announced in Alfons Mieczysław Chrostowski's Jutrzenka, in Cleveland, that Kolaszewski and Wladyslaw Debski arrived in Buffalo to establish an independent parish.

Hieronim Kubiak wrote, in The Polish National Catholic Church in the United States of America from 1897 to 1980, that the first independent parishes in the United States were organized by German, Irish, and French Catholics. A "pattern of a parish conflict" was already in place when Poles set up their independent parishes. "As long as the conflict continued, the parish most often divorced itself from the jurisdiction of the accused bishop and stood independent of him, which did not mean that the parish did not consider itself belonging to the Catholic Church symbolized by the Pope. In the division with the bishops, the parish kept very strictly to the rules of the norm of religious life, finding in it a further support for the rightness of their cause." Return to the previous state of affairs, exist in isolation and then vanish, or create "a self-determined religious movement" are the three alternative results, according to Kubiak.

According to Kruszka, the causes of this "social ulcer" can be found several years earlier when Poles began immigrating to Buffalo in large numbers. They had only one church prior to 1886; they built an additional church, without waiting for the permission of Bishop Stephen V. Ryan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, but a storm demolished it; they demanded another church and only under pressure from the Congregation for Propagation of the Faith was a second church built. Even so, there was by this time resentment and bitterness among the people which created prejudices against the clergy. That "social ulcer" burst in 1895 when a group demanded that Ryan relinquish ownership and management of their church; Ryan did not agree to the conditions, so the rebels schismed from the RCC and organized an independent parish. Their parish did not develop at all, because everyone thought their pastor, Antoni Klawiter, was morally bankrupt. Klawiter eventually left, intent on reconciling with the RCC, and Kaminski, who was according to Kruszka another notorious adventurer like Klawiter, replaced him. From 1896 until May 3, 1907, Kaminski was pastor of Holy Mother of the Rosary Parish in Buffalo. According to Kruszka, Kaminski once counted under his jurisdiction a parish in Buffalo, a parish in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and a parish in Baltimore, Maryland.

After the formal constitution of the Polish Catholic Church in Buffalo, Kaminski as bishop-elect attempted to obtain consecration.

To this end, in 1897, he tried to establish friendly relations with Old Catholic Church in Europe.

The Old Catholic Churches' Union of Utrecht (UU), however, already had a representative in the United States of America, Kozlowski, and did not intent to affect Kozlowski's autonomy

Kaminski failed to persuade the Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht to raise him to the episcopate. Soon after, Kaminski was to be consecrated bishop by Vilatte, but this was delayed over the fee charged for consecration. It was deliberate and premeditated simony, the act of buying and selling an ecclesiastical office, Vilatte demanded $5,000 for the consecration but Kaminski only had $600 to give. One Episcopal priest reported that Vilatte charged a $15,000 fee for Kaminski's consecration. Only after Vilatte was bankrupt and had sold his house and cathedral in Green Bay was he less demanding and agreed to consecrate Kaminski. Kaminski was consecrated, on March 20, 1898, by Vilatte as suffragan bishop for those Polish priests and parishes which accepted Vilatte's doctrinal reforms. He received $100 in cash from Kaminski and promissory notes for a few hundred dollars more.

Kaminski threatened to take Grafton to court after Grafton publicly criticized him.

"Notices were sent out," according to Anson, that stated both Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore and Archbishop Sebastiano Martinelli, the apostolic delegate to the United States, "would assist at the ceremony. It is hardly necessary to add that neither of these prelates put in an appearance." Vilatte arrived in Buffalo on March 21, 1898 and consecrated Kaminski. However, the new bishop fled the United States to Canada because of creditors. He was excommunicated by Rome and he abandoned Vilatte.

Kaminski's consecration met with an immediate response from the Holy See. On September 9, 1898, Pope Leo XIII condemned the ceremony and took Kaminski's.

Kaminski was consecrated after the 1889 establishment of the UU and its IBC.

On September 9, 1898, Vilatte was excommunicated by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Peter IV, for consecrating Kaminski in a way contrary to the canon law of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. Anson wrote that in his agreement with Alvarez, Vilatte acknowledged that if he "deviated from their Canons and Rules, he would be subject to dismissal from the dignity of Metropolitan." Bishops were consecrated by Vilatte "without authority" from the Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, who "therefore does not recognize such consecrations or their derivative consecrations and ordinations."

Just before the Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland and wider Revolution of 1905 in the Russian Empire, Stanislaw Osada, in Historya Związku Narodowego Polskiego i rozwój ruchu narodowego Polskiego w Ameryce Północne, wrote in the United States, that Russian agents endeavored to draw believers into Old Catholicism, not for faith but for "implanting in the womb of Catholicism" the basis for Polish discord, to facilitate the russification of the Catholic Church. Kubiak quoted Osada: "There exists yet another danger, namely that in recent times the leaders of that movement (independent) quite unequivocally help spread among the Polish masses the slogans of the Revolutionary-Socialists."

Over the next several years, Kaminski developed his Church. He ordained several priests] But he never managed to collect more than 35,000 faithful gathered in 14 parishes.

From 1898 to 1911 he edited and published a weekly Polish newspaper Warta, an organ of his independent church. He died in Buffalo on September 19, 1911.


John Kaminski

Salome (Mackievicz) Kaminski