Tag Archives: Ward Street …

The priest, the parking lot, the stolen mics and my neighborhood


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Our Lady of Czestochowa church – also known as St. Mary’s – is located on Ward Street, in one of Worcester’s poorest inner-city neighborhoods. Rosalie lives right next door!

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Sometimes people who were homeless or struggling with drug addiction hung out by the church’s shrine, located across from the church, at the other end of the church parking lot.

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St. Mary’s was the church of Rosalie’s Polish immigrant grandparents and mom. Rosalie attended CCD classes at the church’s school and walked to mass at St. Mary’s every Saturday night with her mom and two sisters for 17 years! Here she is with her beloved Polish Grandpa on their Lafayette Street back porch. She looks decked out for mass! pics: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

I say: The cold, proud priest had it coming to him! Jesus said: Be a lamb, be a serpent! The robbery – aka the recent break in, the filching of microphones, the stealing of $, the messing around in the sacristy at St. Mary’s church in lower Vernon Hill – was my inner-city neighborhood being a serpent.

I’ve watched the lead up to this break in at St. Mary’s on Ward Street – the Polish church’s proper name is Our Lady of Czestochowa – from my plant-filled kitchen window (I live in the apartment building next door) …

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… my parking lot, my walks with Jett and Lilac … for almost three years. I’ve heard the stories from my neighbors.

I ain’t no Aesop but here’s the moral of the story:

If you have a church in one of Worcester’s poorest, most drug-infested, gun-choked neighborhoods where the people are often sad, physically or emotionally abused, underemployed/poor, addicted to heroin or alcohol, desperate, hopeless, homeless! – if you are smack dab in the middle of the world that Jesus came to save and loved the most (Jesus said: THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST! THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST!), then you deal with it. Sensitively, if you’re me. Beautifully, compassionately if you’re a priest or a minister. Heck! If you’re a priest like St. Mary’s Rev. Ryszard Polek maybe you should even try ministering to the people! After all, Jesus LIVED IN/WAS A PART OF a community just like lower Vernon Hill during his sojourn on earth – we’re talking the underbelly, the social outcasts of Nazareth, Jerusalem. He was in the desert storm, wind-whipped whispers from the Devil swirling all around him. The Devil whispered into Jesus’ ears: Come! Follow me! And all this – here the Devil stretches out his arms over a rich, opulent and decadent city  – is yours!

Jesus said: Fuck off, Devil! I’m sticking with the poor folks … my lepers, my cripples, my robbers, my whores … the psychically tormented, the insane! Be gone! And Jesus shook the Devil off like the desert dust from his feet!

And the Devil went away…

If only the pastor of St. Mary’s – the un-Christ like Rev Polek – had learned his Bible lessons from the good nuns at his church in Poland where he was born and lived up until fairly recently. But now his rectory – his home – is next door to his church –  a two-minute walk from my apartment. Rev. Polek sees and is surrounded by the exact same men, women, youth and children I am, but he DOESN’T SEE. Jesus would cry! And be pissed! Righteous anger!!!!

The Rev. Polek has:

Not allowed the Worcester Public Library bookmobile Libby to park in his precious, recently repaved church parking lot so that the little kids (and adults) of the neighborhood can check out books, DVDs, CDs and more. He does have Libby parked on the church parking lot during the school year for the children who attend his church’s elementary school – St. Mary’s.

Rev. Polek has run out of his rectory and chased folks off the church parking lot (repaved recently!!!) and the church’s little pocket park – most recently a sweet neighborhood guy and his sweet pit bull. The man ALWAYS had a plastic bag and picked up after his dog! His daily walks with his beloved pooch in this concrete tough world where dogs that need much exercise are sometimes crated for hours,  owned by drug dealers or fought were to be admired! We all smiled at this pair! Not the pastor! He ran out yelling at the man and chased them off. For ever.

There is much illegal trash dumping in my neighborhood. Right inside, in the back of St. Mary’s church parking lot. On the Endicott Street side. It’s a trash hot spot, to tell you the truth! Rev. Polek has refused to work with the City of Worcester and State Rep. Dan Donahue when he was asked if video cameras could be installed and trained on the hot spot so the illegal dumpers could be caught. I’ve posted photos here of the thrown OFFICE FURNITURE, MATRESSES, chairs, contractors bags filled with garbage etc. All on St. Mary’s property. It sits there for days. Sometimes weeks.

The pastor’s kicked me and Jett and Lilac off his precious church parking lot when I used to walk my pups there (plastic poop bag in hand) in the early a.m. No church service. Just me in my Mom’s New York Yankees baseball cap trying to give my two high energy dogs, both on leads, some exercise in the inner city. A city without a dog park.

The pastor confronted me the last time I walked my mutts, and when I scolded him for not understanding the neighborhood he was smack dab in the middle of and told him Father Madden of St. John’s church, up a few streets, is super great with his neighborhood, actually has programs for the people of the ‘hood, welcomes them … feeds them Rev. Polek said to me in broken English wrapped in a heavy Polish accent: THEN GO TO FATHER MADDEN! Go to him!!!

I said FUCK YOU! then whipped around,  leading Jett and Lilac – they wanted to play with the pastor who just frowned at their exuberance – stormed off! Stormed off his fucking precious church parking lot!

A week later Rev. Polek had about 20 NO TRESPASSING. POLICE TAKE NOTICE  signs posted at the entry of his parking lot, the sides of his parking lot, by the shrine on his parking lot, near the church side of his parking lot… . What’s the Polish word for overkill?! (Rev. Polek!)

But then arrogance superseded nastiness:

Three or so weeks ago, I forget which holiday, the Rev. Polek hauled out the church portable microphones, the speakers, the portable PA system, gold leaf encrusted portable awning and lead a mini church procession around his church parking lot, ending up in front of the church’s shrine. It was warm out, but he was wearing heavy, opulent vestments trimmed in bright red. About 150 parishioners followed him, singing, too. He sang a sad Polish hymn that my mother used to sing around the house when I was a little girl growing up on Lafayette Street. Very plaintive, dark… I cried when I heard that song because it reminded me of Ma and my rough childhood in Green Island. I looked out my kitchen window to watch the Rev. Polek and his tiny flock.

The pageantry was intense and beautiful. It was a sea of people and pretty dresses and bowed heads in the middle of the inner city, surrounded by  tired three deckers, Section 8 housing, poor people, many brown- and black-skinned. It was all in Polish – words and music – not Spanish the way most celebrations in my neighborhood sound.

I struggled with its interpretation: I had never seen anything like this. Was Rev. Polek saying,  Hooray! I’ve got a new parking lot! Screw you poor city people! Look how great and holy we are! Look at my flock! Old, young, babies. We rule this brandy new church parking lot! It’s ours! Not yours! Stay off! Look at us! We are better. We are nothing like you!

Then two or three weeks later, his church is busted into and besides taking money, this outdoor portable PA system that he was using in that parking lot procession was stolen! Ripped off! Nothing else taken! No gold chalice, no gold leafed icon. JUST the PA system that he was using  a few weeks ago – not even flaunting it but he may as well have been – a great outdoor PA system before all the eyes and ears of a  poor BUT MUSIC-OBSESSED community. 

His neighbors, his neighborhood, too.

The recent break in at St. Mary’s is no tragedy, no desecration of a holy space! Jesus, the spirit of Jesus, St. Mary and all the saints and angels, was never there to defile.

And somewhere in the ‘hood there’s a great party going on, the lovely mariachi band sending love through music out to the pretty brown ladies in three deckers, the junkies nodding off in the hallway, the dancers at the backyard party, me writing this story, sweet Jesus up in the city sky!!

Hallelujah!!!

WARD STREET’S little kids, moms, families, law abiding citizens thank you, Worcester Police Dept. Vice Squad, Mass State Police, Conn State Police and your heroic German Shepherd dogs!

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DRUG RAID AT 48 1/2 WARD ST.

From the Worcester Police Department FB page:

Year-Long Drug Investigation Yields Numerous Guns and Drugs – 11 Arrests Made

Worcester Police Chief Gary J. Gemme announced today that as a result of an extensive narcotics investigation initiated by members of the Worcester Police Vice Squad, eight search warrants were executed and eleven arrests were made. This was a joint investigation by the Worcester police department, Massachusetts State Police, and supported by the Worcester Country District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. The execution of these search warrants and the securing of the premises of the targeted sites involved the assistance of the Oxford Police Department and Auburn Police Department.

“Today was a bad day for those who would prey on our residents and neighborhoods. With one fell swoop, the Worcester Police Department and their law enforcement partners put a serious dent in drug trafficking in our city,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “This kind of case only comes together through cooperation across agency lines. Thank you to the Worcester Police Department, District Attorney Joseph Early’s Office, the Massachusetts State Police, and Connecticut State Police for their tireless work to make Worcester a safer place.”

Describing the operation, Chief Gary J. Gemme said “In the early morning hours, officers involved in the operation prepared to enter pre-determined locations simultaneously to execute eight search warrants including sites in Oxford, Auburn and Connecticut.”

Members of the Worcester police vice squad, and Massachusetts State Police made entry into the following locations and secured the premises:

11 Russell Street, 1st Floor Worcester
11 Russell Street, 2nd Floor Worcester
48 ½ Ward Street, Worcester
75 Ward Street, Worcester
21 Merrick Street, 3rd Floor, Worcester
143 Orchard Hill Drive, Oxford
Starters Distributors, 848 Southbridge Street, Auburn

Connecticut State Police, Massachusetts State Police and Worcester Police executed a search warrant at 442 Eastford Road, Woodstock, CT.

The search warrants yielded more than 200 grams of cocaine, more than 200 grams of heroin, 11 firearms, 10 vehicles and approximately $75,000 cash.

Commenting on the investigation, Chief Gary J. Gemme said, “Anytime you can focus on areas of the City impacted by drugs and violence, it goes a long was to enhance the safety and vitality of our neighborhoods. … This is just one of a number of investigations and wiretaps that we are working on which focuses on guns and drugs.”

The investigation began approximately a year ago and included a wiretap and surveillance. It is expected that the arrests made during this investigation will disrupt the illegal activities of the drug organization.

“This was a great effort and a lot of good police work went into this over the past year,” said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. “This action truly exemplified how well the state police assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office and Worcester Police work together.”“You cannot overstate how important it is to get heroin and cocaine in this quantity off the streets and take back these neighborhoods,” he said. “It is also a very good day for law-enforcement and for public safety when we can get this many weapons out of the hands of drug dealers.”

During the raids, the following individuals were placed under arrest:

Juan DeJesus, 24 of 48 ½ Ward Street, Worcester was charged with Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Class B Substance with Intent to Distribute, Trafficking in Class B Substance more than 200 Grams, and Conspiracy to Violate Controlled Substance Laws.

Jose Tapia, 26, of 48 ½ Ward Street, Worcester was charged with Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Class B Substance with Intent to Distribute, Trafficking in Class B Substance more than 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Violate Controlled Substance Laws, Possession of Class B Substance, and Possession of Class C Substance

Jose Correa, 38, of 143 Orchard Hill, Oxford was charged with Trafficking in Class B more than 200 Grams and Conspiracy to Violate Controlled Substance Laws.

Joshua Amart, 24, of 11 Russell Street, Apartment 2, Worcester was charged with Distribution of Class B Substance (Subsequent Offense).

Pito Bauza, 45, of 42 Grand Street, Apartment 2, Worcester was charged with Possession of Class A Substance and Conspiracy to Violate Controlled Substance Laws.

Eduardo Diaz, 33, of 159 Water Street, Worcester was charged with Use of Firearm in a Felony, Resisting Arrest, Possession of Firearm/Ammunition without an FID Card, Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Distribute, Interfering with a Police Officer and Conspiracy to Violate Controlled Substance Laws.

Wilfredo Valle, 32, of 300 Gregory Avenue, Passaic, NJ, was charged with Use of Firearm in a Felony, Resisting Arrest, Possession of Firearm/Ammunition without an FID Card, Possession of Class A Substance with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Class B Substance with Intent to Distribute and Conspiracy to Violate Controlled Substance Laws.

Israel Diaz, 36, of 41 Merrick Street, Worcester was charged with Possession of a Machine Gun, Trafficking in Class B Substance more than 200 Grams, Trafficking in Heroin more than 200 Grams, Conspiracy to Violate Controlled Substance Laws, Use of a Firearm in a Felony, Possession of a Firearm without an FID Card, and Possession of Ammunition without an FID Card.

Additional charges are pending and all eight individuals will be arraigned tomorrow at the Worcester County District Courthouse.

Three additional individuals were arrested in Connecticut and are facing numerous firearms and drug charges.
“These arrests and seizures of narcotics, firearms and suspected drug profits will deliver a significant blow to the cocaine and heroin trade in Worcester and the surrounding region,” said Colonel Richard D. McKeon, Superintendent, Massachusetts State Police. “Today’s operation and the investigation that preceded it is a model for interagency cooperation.”
“I commend the work of the State Police Detective Unit attached to District Attorney Early’s office and of our partners at the Worcester Police Department, ” he said.

Chief Gemme commended Captain of the Bureau of Investigative Services, Paul Saucier, Vice Squad Lt. Joseph Scampini, and Police Officer Larry Williams for their tireless work on the investigation. “The results of this investigation are a tribute to the dedication that we continually see from our officers working to keep our community safe,” said Chief Gemme

WOW

The hypocrisy of the WPL and St. Mary’s church and … Kudos, Mayor Joe Petty! (and CM Ed Augustus!)

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St. Mary’s church: their parking lot is their God! This summer they repaved it.

By Rosalie Tirella

You see how rough things are, here on Ward Street: the kids and guns, the used syringes in backyards, the despair. Hell! The trash on Endicott Street has doubled in massiveness since I last wrote about the heap!

It seems no one around here wants to step up and improve lives: The pastor of St. Mary’s church won’t allow the Worcester Public Library bookmobile to park in his church parking lot so our Ward Street kids and parents can feed their brains and hearts. But he’s got the Worcester Public Library bookmobile, Libby, in his precious parking lot for the students at his private St. Mary’s School!

To add to the WPL bookmobile carnival of hypocrisy: the Worcester Public Library doesn’t want to come here, to the hood, because they fear the folks in this neighborhood won’t respect/return library materials. I cringed when the library official laid this short-sighted BS on me!

Economic profiling?

Classism? Racism?

An UNWILLINGNESS TO EDUCATE FOLKS? Reach out to special populations?

The Worcester Public Library official also told me that when her people take the library bookmobile into Worcester inner-city neighborhoods on the fly they call it GUERILLA library services!

What a horrible way of looking at helping poor families!

One newer Worcester Public Library librarian, pleasant, young, and you would think more idealistic than her boss, told me, shaking her head, in mock? sadness: UNFORTUNATELY, IT’S BUILT INTO THE SYSTEM.

As in SYSTEMIC CLASSICSM AND RACISM, sweetie?

You are not so sweet!

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Libby should not be sidelined by the prejudices or shortsightedness of the WPL librarians and staffers!

This is what poor people have been up against since Nero cheered the chariots on!!!

So, it’s with JOY AND GRATITUDE that I write: MAYOR JOE PETTY IS SUPER! HE HAS STEPPED UP! HE GETS IT.

A few days ago, Petty told me: YES,the kids in your neighborhood need something. We’re looking at putting in a football field for kids there, off Ward Street/Ward Street area. Ed Augustus is working on it… We want to put a neighborhood football field in …

PERFECT. We need a green place where our kids can run, play, enjoy themselves! So often I’ll see them skateboarding on our busy streets, walking the family pup on Ward Street, trying to carve out some place to MOVE in this intense, congested inner-city ‘hood.

There are so many kids here, looking, exploring, active, smart, filled with potential … If the city cuts them off, if all they see is concrete and violence, what are they gonna be up to in our city in a year or two? If there’s no safe, green place to run and play or read or garden, what then? In a few years, guns, mayhem and a feeling of dislocation will claim our kids’ hearts … and it will be that much more difficult to turn things around … the cycle of pain will continue …

Petty and Augustus get this and are working to rewrite the narrative! Go, WARD STREET AREA FOOTBALL FIELD,GO!!!!!

Stop the violence that is tearing up Worcester! SOS! Save Our Streets!!

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S.O.S.
Save Our Streets

City Hall Common

July 26

5 pm

Peace Rally and March

Please come join us in a peaceful gathering to build community and start a movement of non-violence in this city.

The violence touches everyone but ESPECIALLY the mothers, and fathers, and other family members who have to bury children.

Come out and support one another.

Come out and support a community that so desperately needs peace.

There will be marches beginning in various locations to converge on City Hall Common at 5 pm.

We will hear from family members and have a balloon letting to honor those killed on ALL sides of this tragedy.

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