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History of Freeland, Pa.
St. Mary's Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church

"The Lithuanian people of Freeland and vicinity who recently severed connection with St. Casimir's Catholic Church on Ridge Street, are laying plans to establish their own congregation and build a new church." That's what was reported in an 8/21/25 Freeland Press article, quoted in the Standard Speaker on October 10, 1986 in an article about the 100 year jubilee of St. Casimir's Church. The article continued: "A meeting to discuss this movement will be held in St. Anthony's Italian Church next Sunday. St. Casimir's Church for the past 35 years has been a union church, composed of Lithuanians and Poles. Increased membership, the Lithuanians charge, is the reason for their severing connection with the congregation."

St. Mary's Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church was listed at 608 Center Street in the Polk directory for 1928-1929. Rev. Simon J. Struckus was listed as the pastor. This is the address where Seitzinger's Drug Store was located. According to Carolyn Moering, Robert L. Seitzinger built that 3-story building for his pharmacy next to the Fox bakery around 1918. His family lived upstairs, but other spaces upstairs would have been rented out. I assume that this Lithuanian group rented an upstairs room or rooms as temporary space from which to organize a new church. However, I'm not sure what happened next, or how long this group lasted as a church or organization. The 1986 newspaper article noted above suggests that many of these people joined Ss. Peter & Paul's Lithuanian Church in Hazleton. On the other hand, in the commemorative booklet for St. Anthony's diamond (75th) anniversary in 1976, it says this: "About 1925, a group of Lithuanians began to use the basement of St. Anthony's for their services, with their own pastor, Father Struckus. These people hoped to be able to have their own church in the future but, because of their small number and the economic situation at that time, had to abandon their plans and decided, instead, to join St. Anthony's parish. Many of their family names remain on our membership roll today ..." (p. 19)

As I've noted elsewhere in this section of my website, there were disagreements and sometimes splits in a number of our churches over the years, so this is not an isolated case, and it didn't just happen in Freeland. These events are part of the complex history of a nation built largely by immigrants who had to adapt not only to life in a new and strange place but also to living with people from other countries and figuring out how much of their old ways to keep and how much to let go of in order to adapt to a new life in America. I hope to add more about this in the section on Ethnic groups.

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