St. Stanislaus Church To Reopen
Vigilers gathered at the church to mark the end of the of their long watch.
Rumors about the reopening of the historic Polish church had been circulating since mid-week but the official word was given at the afternoon Mass at Pope John Paul the Great Church.
"Bishop McDonnell has given his approval and blessings to a plan that I have submitted that would restore the status quo of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church," the Rev. Daniel Boyle told the some 500 parishioners packed into the church.
The parish will be "fully utilizing" St. Stan's, including Sunday Masses at 8 a.m. beginning on April 1 and on Holy Days, and funerals, weddings and baptisms as requested.
"As we prepare to begin our annual Lenten journey focusing again on reconciliation and peace, we have the unique opportunity in the Parish of Pope John Paul the Great to begin healing the division and strife that seems to have splintered our parish and even our town," Boyle said.
His announcement was met with silence (and a few quiet claps) but soon after the bells of St. Stan's rang out in joy as church members who'd sat vigil in the church for years waved to horn-tooting motorists.
Richard Wisniowski said he'd asked if Boyle thought ringing the bells would be OK: "He thought it would be very appropriate."
"We pretty much received what people here expected we'd get," said Eugene Michalenko, of the planned Masses. "We got weddings and funerals, too, they could have denied that and they didn't."
The announcement brings closure to the three-year vigil to keep the church open after the Diocese of Springfield ordered it closed along with a number of other churches in Berkshire County and the Springfield as part of nationwide consolidation of parishes.
The very active parish at St. Stan's, however, didn't bend so easily. Just days before the official closure at Christmas, a group of dedicated members began a round-the-clock vigil to keep the doors open as an appeal by the Friends of St. Stan's worked its way up the heirarchy to Rome.
Last year, the suppression of St. Stan's parish was upheld but not the closure of the church itself. Both sides again appealed and the Apostolic Signatura affirmed the parish suppression in November; on Saturday, the diocese said the Apostolic Signatura had agreed that "adequate cause had not been demonstrated to reduce St. Stanislaus Church building to 'profane' status."
The plan by Boyle to continue the church as a mission chapel within the Parish of Pope John Paul the Great (comprised of the former St. Thomas, Notre Dame and St. Stanislaus parishes) was approved by the diocese.
"I pray that the entire Catholic community of Adams rejoices today," said Bishop Thomas McDonnell in a statement. "I am grateful that, in consultation with others, Father Daniel Boyle has developed a plan which not only provides a sustainable solution for the Catholics of Adams but promises as well to be a vehicle for healing and growth."
A number of parishes around the country, particularly in Boston, attempted vigils; a few are still going on but fewer still have been successful.
"It went to the Vatican and came back ... a little town in Massachusetts ... I don't think any other churches have been reopened," said Michalenko. "I was at a nursing home this afternoon and I was tellimg this woman they were going to open the church. She couldn't believe it."
Church members had continued to collect funds and support programs and missions of St. Stan's during the three-year vigil.
The end of the vigil at 5 p.m. on Day 1,150 was bittersweet. The tribulations had brought together a devoted group that numbered at times more than 200 over long, sometimes cold, nights.
"I made a lot of friends sitting here," said Wisniowski. "I came every day at 6 a.m. and stayed overnight on Thursdays."
Helen Lipinski and Louise Charron spent their Fridays at the churuch. "We had a therapy class," said Lipinski. "If we had a problem we brought it here," chimed Charron.
Michalenko said he enjoyed his Wednesdays at the church and will miss the people he'd spent time with.
"I'm glad the strife is over," he said. "That there's healing and reconciliation and hope. Whatever bad feelings there had been are now over ... we are looking forward to a comfortable future."
In his missive, Boyle called for healing of a division that had affected the parish and the town.
"This is truly a time for us to look ahead ... not back," he said. "It is a time for us to resume our spiritual journey together as one faith community moving always toward the Resurrection and joy of Easter Sunday."
The Rev. Daniel Boyle's letter to the Parish of John Paul the Great:
"As we prepare to begin our annual Lenten journey focusing again on reconciliation and peace, we have the unique opportunity in The Parish of Pope John Paul the Great to begin healing the division and strife that seems to have splintered our parish and even our town.
During the next forty days our parish will begin preparing for the reopening of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church as a chapel/mission of The Parish of Pope John Paul the Great.
While the Vatican has ruled in favor of the suppression of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, it also has decreed that traditional worship should be allowed at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Bishop McDonnell has given his approval and blessings to a plan that I have submitted that would restore the status quo of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.
The first Mass is planned for Palm Sunday, April 1, at 8 a.m. when we can come together again to worship as a unified parish that is filled with praise and thanksgiving.
This is truly a time for us to look ahead … not back. It is a time for us to resume our spiritual journey together as one faith community moving always toward the Resurrection and joy of Easter Sunday.
There must be sensitivity and care shown to embrace those who might still feel estranged. There will be challenges and we all must focus on the future, forgiving and forgetting as Jesus has taught us. As we move forward this isn’t about winning or losing, instead it must be about building up our faith community, our traditions and most importantly our parish.
What will this mean as we go forward? Quite simply we will begin fully utilizing the St. Stan’s church building for worship, and Kolbe Hall and the rectory as needed. Sunday Mass will be celebrated at St. Stan’s at 8 a.m. as it was previously. Mass will also be celebrated there on all Holy Days of obligation and special occasions. Funerals and wedding liturgies will be celebrated at St. Stan’s when requested, as well as Baptisms.
The spiritual center for The Parish of Pope John Paul the Great will continue to be the former Notre Dame Church, where parish communal liturgies will be offered.
The goal of the pastoral team will be to retain, renew and nourish the varied needs and traditions of our Catholic faith community striving to always be inclusive and not exclusive.
Additional details on the actual specifics will be shared as plans are finalized.
With great joy, the faith community of Adams will soon be able to stand together again as one parish worshiping our one true God."