St. Stans Gets Reprieve -- Set to Reopen Palm Sunday

Berkshire Eagle
February 18, 2012

After 1,150 days of occupying a Catholic church slated for closing, parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church are celebrating the pending reopening of the church as a place of worship.

The Rev. Daniel Boyle, priest at the Parish of Pope John Paul the Great, announced that St. Stanís would be reopened as a mission, or satellite location, of Pope John Paul the Great. Its first Mass since closing will be at 8 a.m. on April 1, which is Palm Sunday, he said.

It is extremely rare that a closed Catholic church reopens. Upon its closing in 2008, parishioners occupied the church, keeping vigil day and night since then. Observers credit the 150 to 200 vigilers for safeguarding the structure and its artifacts. After the closing was announced, an appeal to the Vatican on behalf of the churchís parishioners was filed in September of 2008.

Following a lengthy progression through the Vatican law system, it was determined that the Diocese of Springfield did not have the right to render the church as no longer sacred ground and should be used for regular worship.

"St. Stanís is among the first of all Roman Catholic churches in America to be reconciled and given truly pastoral status, through Bishop Timothy McDonnellís generosity in granting sacraments," said Laurie Haas in an email announcing the re-opening.

Haas was one of the organizers of the appeal effort. She credited Boyle with being receptive and helpful in determining the future of St. Stanís.

The announcement was good news for members of both churches. The struggle had raised tempers and caused friction throughout the Adams Catholic community.

After the service, Boyle expressed hope that the community could reunite.

"There will be challenges and we all must focus on the future, forgiving and forgetting as Jesus has taught us," Boyle said during his announcement. "As we move forward this isnít about winning or losing. Instead it must be about building up our faith community, our traditions, and most important our parish."

Following the final ruling at the end of January, Haas and Boyle put together a plan for the use of St. Stanís, a plan that was subsequently approve by the Diocese of Springfieldís Bishop Timothy McDonnell.

The church will celebrate Mass every Sunday at 8 a.m, Boyle said. There will also be Mass for all the Holy Days of obligation, such as Easter and Christmas. Funerals, weddings and baptisms will also be hosted at St. Stanís upon request.

"I think it is an excellent resolution," Boyle said following Saturdayís Mass. "I hope this is setting us on the road to unity."

After the Mass, vigilers and supporters stopped in to St. Stanís to share their glee.

"Itís a big deal," said Jack Tarsa, a St. Stanís vigiler. "Iím real happy about it -- I think everybody is. It was a long battle."

Vigilers agreed that because of the well-organized effort to staff the vigil, its members became a tight-knit group that covered for each other. Everyday, vigilers came to the church to fill their shift, and usually brought home-cooked food for the other vigilers.

"Iím glad the strife is over and we can get back to normal," said vigiler Eugene Michalenko. "But Iím going to miss the vigil."

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was founded in 1902 after several years of effort on Summer Street for the Polish Catholic population of the mill town. Since then generations of Adams families have considered it their spiritual home.

To reach Scott Stafford: or (413) 496-6241








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