Home About Archives RSS Feed

St. Stan's Vigil to Mark Two Years

Andy McKeever

 ADAMS, Mass. — The altar at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is once again covered with a bevy of cheery red poinsettias. It's been a tradition over the years to turn the front of the sanctuary into an overflowing garden at Christmastime.

But as the Friends of St. Stan's enter their third year of protest over the historic church's closure, the setting out of the poinsettias has become a benchmark in a lengthening vigil.

Sunday will mark two years that vigilkeepers have been staying in the church in hopes of convincing the Vatican that the house of worship their grandparents and great-grandparents built a century ago will be around for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There is no sign of an end to the vigil as the cold creeps back into the pews.

"It's still going strong and we're entering our third winter now," said Eugene Michalenko, one of the spokesman for the vigil effort, on Thursday. "We have heard nothing yet."

St. Stan's was ordered closed as part of a consolidation in the Springfield Diocese; the parish and that of Notre Dame and St. Thomas were to be joined up the street at Notre Dame, newly renamed as Pope John Paul the Great. The use of the first Polish pope's name didn't appease  some in the congregation, who immediately set up the vigil.

So for two years now, at least one person has been in the Polish church to keep the diocese from locking the doors. The vigilers will hold a small celebration and sing Christmas carols at 1 p.m. on the anniversary.

Volunteers are there round the clock, taking turns and even sleeping in the cold church. This year, a space heater warms a small room behind the altar to give the faithful some respite.

The group is waiting on a decision from the Vatican that could take years. Parishioners joined eight other churches in the state in appealing their closures to the Apostolic Signatory but that decision has been delayed multiple times. The Signatory is the last step in the appeals process.

Cold weather will not stop the St. Stan's vigil as it enters its third year. The church was closed by the Springfield Diocese on Dec. 30 two years ago.
The building is no longer a church in the eyes of the Springfield Diocese and Mass is not held there, but parishioners do still pray there.

If St. Stan's is empty, church officials will lock the doors and strip the interior of religious relics before it sells the building.

Vigilers fear their Polish heritage will be stripped along with icons and stained glass.

In Boston, vigils continue in a handful of churches; in other parts of the country, vigil attempts have been cut short by police action. The Friends of St. Stan's were concerned about that at first but an uneasy truce with the diocese has left both playing a waiting game.

The massive chandeliers, the painted ceiling and all the decorations and architecture has created one of the most beautiful churches in the county. Vigilkeepers say it's priceless and by staying in the building, the church will remain intact.

And so the annual tradition of decorating the altar still continues, but change is inevitable. Zepka J & Sons Florists used to bring thousands of flowers into the church every winter but this year it had to be scaled back, Michalenko said.

The 100-year-old florist closed this fall; owner Matthew Zepka, a longtime usher and Eucharistic minister at St. Stan's, died last December at the age of 89.

Thomas Zepka, his son, used his connections with wholesalers to bring in about 60 red poinsettias this year.

"Now people are buying them individually and bringing them in," Michalenko said. "It's not as big as it used to be. The alter used to be full."

Tags: anniversary, Christmas      
News Headlines
Substance Abuse Prevention Part 1: The Data
St. John To Make Run For Cheshire Select Board
New Gallery Drawn by North Adams' Air of Contemporary Art
MCLA Makes It Official With Inauguration of President Birge
Lanesborough to Walmart: Come Build Here
Clarksburg Seeking Write-In Candidates for Empty Posts
Cheshire Wants to Brighten Up DPW Garage
Clarksburg Country Club Owner Denies Accusation of Waste Dumping
Few Candidates Take Out Papers For Lanesborough Election
Safety Officials Keeping Eye On Potential Pipeline Protests
Appeals Process
Parishes have some options to protest their closings.

Appeal to the bishop within 10 days of a decree of suppres-
sion or merger. He's got 30 days to get back to you - or not. 




If the answer is still no, the parish then has 10 days to appeal to the Congregation of Clergy in Rome. They could take years to respond and usually back the bishop.

All is not lost. The next step is to appeal to the Apostolic Signatory, the Vatican's "supreme court." It is headed by St. Louis' former Archbishop Raymond Burke, who leans conservative.
If the first appeal for a hearing fails, the last step is a plea to the full bench of the signatory. The process can cost thousands.

Bishop Hopes Closings Reinvigorate Parishes

Bosley Wants More Dialogue on Church Closings

Parishioners Seek Solution to Save St. Stan's

Parishioners Set Vigil to Save St. Stan's

St. Stan's Closes With
Tears and Defiance

St. Stan's Hopes for Strength in Numbers

St. Stan's Pins Prayers on Mediation Request





Boston (3)
coverage (4)
diocese (9)
event (5)
parish (5)
related stories (2)
Rome (6)
update (12)
Christmas Trabold Thanksgiving Decision Hajdas Appeals New Orleans Apostolic Signatura Deicision Anniversary Vigil Marians Tomkowitz Ruling Divine Mercy Opening Republican Reopening Decision Council Of Churches Time Decree Closing Appeal Congregation Of Clergy Borre
Popular Entries:
St. Stan's Announces Church Is Saved
Diocese Releases Statement on St. Stan's Ruling
Diocese, Vigilers Appeal Ruling on St. Stan's
St. Stanislaus Church To Reopen
St. Stanislaus Reopens For Palm Sunday Mass
St. Stan Vigilers Hope Prayers Answered
Diocese Says Vatican Upholds Closure of St. Stan's
First Western Hemisphere Divine Mercy Images Still at St. Stan's
Boston Setback Doesn't Shake Vigilers' Faith
St. Stan's Vigil to Mark Two Years
Recent Entries:
St. Stanislaus Reopens For Palm Sunday Mass
St. Stanislaus Church To Reopen
Diocese Says Vatican Upholds Closure of St. Stan's
Diocese, Vigilers Appeal Ruling on St. Stan's
Diocese Releases Statement on St. Stan's Ruling
First Western Hemisphere Divine Mercy Images Still at St. Stan's
St. Stan Vigilers Hope Prayers Answered
St. Stan's Announces Church Is Saved
Pontiff Rejects Boston Parish Appeals
St. Stan's Vigil to Mark Two Years