Saturday marked the 1,150th day of the vigil. A new sign on the door advises the 'the Vigil is canceled as of 5 PM Saturday, February 18, 2012.
Vigilers gathered at the church to mark the end of the of their long watch.
ADAMS, Mass. — Three long years of patience and prayer paid off on day 1,150 as St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was declared open as a mission chapel in hopes of healing the divided Catholic community.
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.
Michalenko supported the vigil both as a member of the church and as president of the Adams Historical Society. The 1978 renovation of the church was the biggest nongovernmental preservation project in town, he said. "Here's yet another preservation movement at the same time that the people were preserving something important to the community ... it's important to our heritage, our history."
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."
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Fr. Boyle demonstrated tremendous restraint over the past 3-1/2 years as the vigilers and others lambasted him in the media. They owe this holy man a big apology, and maybe now they will realize that he wasn't their enemy. He fought the Bishop for this complete reopening, and deserves full credit for getting it done.
Whose idea was this? Certainly not Fr. Boyles? The ever faithful and vigilers are the real inspiration for this solution. Lets hear it for the for the small and determined group of parishioners. They set the world on fire.
Maybe an apology for him would be considered AFTER he issues an apology for what HE did at the midnight mass! That disgraceful, insulting display will forever be etched into the minds of all of us who saw it and witnessed it firsthand. Make one thing perfectly clear, he did not fight the bishop for this! It was the decision that was handed down in Rome that forced the 2 of them to open the church, it has nothing to do with goodwill or decisions by either of them!
Editor: The diocese could have opened it once a year; instead, Father Boyle's plan integrates into the parish. You won! Why continue the anger? I Agree (32) - I Disagree (20)
Congratulations to all those who fought to keep our beloved Parish open. I am so proud of my parents Richard and Barbara Wisniowski. They truly showed all of us in our family what dedication and perseverance can accomplish. Your grandchildren will keep your experience with them forever and I truly believe that their future will formed around a premise that you should always fight for what you believe in! I pray that the community can now heal and that all can show forgiveness.
Although, it can be said that the viglers "won". It's about more than that. It is about being respected and treated with dignity that all people deserve. The "Midnight Mass-acre" was a horrific display of arrogance and petty anger. No matter the outcome of the St. Stan's suppression the Catholics of Adams deserved an apology. We have yet to get an apology. Fr.Boyle may want to wax philosophically about the need for forgiveness and unity but perhaps he should lead through example and humble himself and ask for that forgiveness.
I never believed the church would reopen. I thought the diocese would just hope all the parishoners would get discouraged or just go away. It is great to see it reopen, and it is a tribute to all of those who never gave up, stuck to what they believed in, and were very devoted. Congratulations to all of you. It is truly a beautiful church, and great place worship.
Be willing to bet a lot of money there was a 2nd letter from Rome to the diocese that said "open it as it was before". Boyle and bishop hate the polish people. I was at the xmas eve massacre. It was awful. To be honest boyle is lucky he made it through the night.
Bet the bishop doesn't show up for the reopening either
After the mean, horrible things that were said about Fr. Boyle in the newspaper blogs when news of the Church closing was announced, his reaction was completely understandable. I was sickened at some of the comments that were made and now these same bloggers are demanding an apology from him? That's a joke. Be happy that the Church is reopened and appreciated that Fr. Boyle had more to do with the new arrangements than you know. He deserves a big "Thank You." The Catholics in Adams must come together and worship as a community and put the past behind them as God teaches.
Good point that the mean comments did not start with Fr. Dan, accusations were flying before Christmas Midnight Mass. I think that he was suffering from discouragement. I feel that same discouragement now as to what some are writing. I really have to question if we will be able to come to any true peace? Too much ownership of churches and not enough people reaching out to others. Hope and pray attitudes change.
It seems true that Fr. Dan was just discouraged at the midnight mass. There were many cruel comments about him that were flying around. It is amazing that he even endured all the hostility. These comments now make me wonder if we will all be able to come together in peace. Sounds like that same old stuff of church ownership and not reaching out to others in gratitude.
Still up on the high horse. Father Boyle is a person just like us. Did any of you ever make a mistake before or do you all think you are perfect. I hear alot about wanting an apology but I see no forgiveness in these people. That happened years ago. You will never forgive and forget.These are the same people that thought they were to good to worship God with the rest of Adams. They don't need an apology becaise they will never forgive.
Discouraged no, extremely arrogant yes. That goes for all the posters right above this. You were all against the vigil and the Polish people. Guess what you lost. Deal with it. Yes the community comes together but not until all you, the bishop and Boyle admit you were wrong! It was what the people wanted Boyle said. No kidding. But it took an ORDER from Rome for you to do it
Now that St. Stan's is back open they better rename the The Church of Pope John Paul the Great back to Notre Dame or a lot of french people will be upset. This whole thing is rediculous. The three churches in this town were here because of long ago hatred of three different ethnic groups. That is the reason this town has 3 churches. I don't care what church or churches are open. I don't worship a building, I worship God and his son Jesus Christ. Where ever the 8 am mass is on sundays is where I will go. I think ultimately these people forgot the First Commandment and worshiped the building and not the faith it represents. Congratulations on keeping St. Stan's open.
Here is a quote about forgiveness from today's "Ask Amy" section of the Washington Post newspaper: "Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. Forgiveness equates with freedom from the shackles of anger and resentment."
It is time for rejoicing and reconciling, and not for stirring up stale old hurts. It is a time for compassion, not for projecting blame on others.
Actually, the three ethnic groups hated each other at least in this town. You could not date someone back when these churches were built who were in a different ethnic group, let alone marry them. It was very similar to the south between african americans and whites. If you did, you villified by others and your family. If you look further, you will find the truth about this, ask the older generations, they will tell you the samething.
I think that this church is really beautiful inside and out. I am so happy for the people who got this church to open up again.It is so nice. My father used to take me to this church for alot of weddings and funerals. I want to thank all the people who worked real hard on getting this opened.You all did a good job.
I am so pleased to hear that hank and his 200 plus vigilers were able to stay together, grow together and see first hand God's move! In scripture we read" Commit your works unto the Lord and your thougths shall be established" I was blessed to have filled in ocassion in the vigil. I knew in my heart that our Lrd would honor the commitment of these very special people!
MAy you all heal and move forward in honoring our Lord!